Government-funded nurseries face a crisis that threatens their survival, according to a survey by leading unions and charities.
One third of nurseries maintained, funded and controlled by local authorities, reduce staff and services due to the impact coronavirusand the uncertainty over the funding they will receive in the next school year, according to the survey.
They lose an average of £ 70,000 in income, but have to spend an additional £ 8,000 for the additional costs related to COVID, according to the survey from Early Education, NAHT, NEU and UNISON.
But as they are managed by the local authorities, the nurseries maintained are not eligible COVID-19[female[feminine relief programs that help the private sector. And unions say they have had little to no access to the additional COVID funds provided to schools.
“What has happened is that there have been incentives to support schools and to support the private early childhood sector, but the sustained sector has shrunk and, as a result, we have been put into focus. financially challenged by the fact that a large portion of our COVID costs “were not paid for by any incentives,” said Cathy Earley, principal of Greenacre Community School in Bootle.
She said the work she and her staff did during the pandemic went far beyond the classroom.
“We were a lifeline and we picked up on situations families found themselves in. So if the families isolated themselves and had no one to do the shopping or couldn’t get a Tesco delivery we would help with that, sometimes single parents isolating themselves with their families were alone. And sometimes we were the only voice on the end of the phone. “
The maintained nurseries are located in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country. Beatrice Merrick, Executive Director of Preschool Education, insists that a reduction in their services would have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable children.
She said: “The preschools maintained have a truly unique role, they specialize in early childhood with a much higher level of expertise among their staff, so they have a special role to play in supporting children with disabilities. special educational needs and disabilities.
“And very often, they support children that other local settings do not have the expertise and the facilities to accommodate.
She added: “If the preschools weren’t there, these kids might not have another place to go.”
Lucy Kavanagh’s two young children have free places in a well-maintained nursery, which allowed the young mother to attend college and embark on a career as a midwife.
“If I didn’t have access, I would have to drop out and I wouldn’t be able to go to college. It would have an impact on the lives of my children, ”Lucy told Sky News.
“Even at a time when it was locked and I wasn’t in college, I was able to send my kids, so I was very lucky, because if I had the kids at home with me while still zooming online, teaming up, doing my college I just couldn’t have done it and I wouldn’t have gotten the grades to go to college either. “
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: ‘We are providing local authorities with around £ 60million in additional funding this year for their maintained preschools, and we have confirmed the rates they will receive until March. 2022 in order to clarify their budgets to them as soon as possible.
“This additional funding was introduced as a temporary solution while a longer term solution to fund the maintenance of preschools is being considered.
“The ministers made it clear that our commitment to do so remains unchanged and that any changes will follow public consultation.”