Sunday, 7 September 2014

The future of Nursery Schools: Tuesday morning's adjournment debate in Parliament

On Tuesday morning, Pat Glass MP has secured an adjournment debate on the Future of the Nursery School.  So, there is still just time to get in touch with your MP (it takes less than a couple of minutes online) and tell her or him about the importance of nursery schools having a future.

Pat Glass MP
It's urgent: over 100 nursery schools have closed since 1999.

Some basic text you might want to use or adapt is below. You might also want to have a look at Why Nursery Schools Matter from the National Campaign for Real Nursery Education.

If you have some time to personalise what you say and make it more relevant to your MP, then your email will have even more effect. If it helps, have a look at what I wrote to Stephen Timms MP.

Dear [insert the name of your MP]

On Tuesday there is an adjournment debate on the future of nursery schools. The continued closure of nursery schools is a matter of great concern to me, and I think it is urgent that parliament speaks up to support them.

Maintained nursery schools are DFE-registered schools, like primaries and secondaries. There is a substantial evidence-base for their effectiveness. The DFE-sponsored Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) project found that nursery schools had the highest quality and the best outcomes for children. As recently as this year, Ofsted’s first Annual Report on the Early Years found that “looking only at the overall judgements given, nursery schools perform considerably better than other types of early years provision”. In fact, figures from the National Campaign for Nursery Education show that 55% of nursery schools inspected between 1st January and 31st March 2014 were judged outstanding in comparison to 8% of Primaries and 14% of Secondary schools.
Perhaps even more impressively, Ofsted commented in its annual Early Years Report that nursery schools are the only part of the school system which “perform as strongly in deprived areas as more affluent ones”.

So, the evidence points strongly to the quality of nursery schools, and their particularly beneficial impact for disadvantaged children. Nursery Schools do not just benefit the children on their roll: they are often at the heart of Children’s Centres, providing support and early intervention for thousands of children. Increasingly, they work with other early years settings and with childminders to support quality improvement for all. The national charity Early Education reports that more than 80% of nursery schools are involved in training and placements for training, with more than one in five leading or being part of a Teaching School Alliance.

Yet they are closing fast. In 1980, there were 599 nursery schools in England. According to the DFE, there are now just 418. And the rate of closure is getting faster all the time: figures from the national charity Early Education indicate that over 100 nursery schools in Britain have been closed since 1999.

Across the country, many nursery schools report that they are feeling vulnerable to closure. In a recent survey conducted by Early Education, 77% of nursery schools reported that they were concerned about their future viability or faced imminent loss of their independence. Only 12% felt positive about the future. Ignoring the evidence about quality and wider impact, the previous minister for Early Years and Childcare, Liz Truss, sat back and allowed the continued loss of nursery schools to accelerate, telling the Select Committee that “nursery schools should not get special treatment”.

Please show your support for nursery schools on Tuesday, before it is too late.