Last week, I spoke in a debate in the House of Commons to share his concerns about the future of state-maintained nursery schools.
State-maintained nurseries are at the forefront of widening social mobility. They provide a vital service to disadvantaged communities: with two-thirds of maintained nurseries being found in the 30% most-deprived areas in England.
Reading East’s three maintained nurseries (Caversham, New Bridge, and Blagdon) have all been rated outstanding by Ofsted – along with 63% of all maintained nurseries nationwide.
However the future of maintained nurseries is under threat. 12 maintained nurseries have closed since 2016 – with the year 2018 experiencing the highest number of maintained nursery closures for a decade. Recent Government cuts to nursery schools amounts to a 31% cut in funding.
In the debate in Parliament, I said: ‘I want to give some of the context for Reading because it helps us to understand the particular pressure caused by the combination of deprivation and a high-cost area. It can be a very worrying combination for nursery schools and other parts of the public sector.’
I continued: ‘Today’s debate should have a real impact… As we have heard, our nursery schools are a vital asset to our community. I urge the Minister to do everything that he can to raise this point with the Treasury.’
I ended by inviting the Minister for Children and Families, Nadhim Zahawi MP, to meet with him and discuss the problems facing Reading nurseries in person. You can find my speech here
Yesterday, following the debate in Parliament, myself and other cross-party MPs presented a public petition to the House of Commons to guarantee funding for maintained nursery schools after 2020.