Nurseries ‘could close’ if Tory free childcare plans go ahead

Hundreds of nursery schools in England could be forced to close if the government presses ahead with plans to extend free childcare, a leading union warns.

The NAHT says nurseries would struggle to implement the Government’s free childcare plan. Photo credit: Flickr

Under a Tory manifesto pledge, free term-time care for three and four-year-olds will double from 15 hours a week to 30. 

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The Government has provided extra funds to support nurseries, but only for two years.

Analysis from the National Association of Headteachers found that nurseries in some areas would see their funding per hour almost halved by 2017-18 unless ministers offer extra support.

In Birmingham, for example, funding per hour of childcare would fall from £8.36 in 2015/16 to just £4.44 in 2017/18. 

NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby said: “The Department for Education’s own data shows that any funding approach that does not reflect these costs on an ongoing basis will be a body blow for early years education in nursery schools. There is additional funding available, but only for two years.

“After that point, England’s nursery schools will cease to be financially viable. The 30 hours offer will be doomed before it even gets started, additional places won’t materialise and current places will be lost as nursery schools across England close their doors for good.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said there had been a record investment in early years, worth £6bn a year by 2020. 

She added that ministers were “consulting with the maintained nursery schools’ sector on future funding in due course.”

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