Maintained Nursery Schools
Decision Maker: Education Scrutiny Committee
Decision status: Recommendations approved
Is Key decision?: No
The Chair welcomed Andrew Good, Head of Financial Management (Development and Schools); Helen Belbin, School Advisor; and Jan Holmes, Headteacher of Walton Lane Nursery School and Rocking Horse Club, to the meeting.
The report presented provided information about Lancashire's Maintained Nursery Schools (MNSs), including updates on standards and finances.
From April 2017 the Government brought in an Early Years National Funding Formula (EYNFF). This arrangement introduced a mechanism for distributing early years funding from National Government to each local authority and set a framework that must be used to distribute funding to all types of early education provider, including nursery schools. The Government had committed supplementary funding for MNSs until March 2020 and in that time local authorities had to establish the future for their MNSs.
Members were advised that MNSs took a large number of children with SEND, including those with complex needs. In many cases the Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) process had not begun which has resulted in MNSs receiving minimal funding for SEND.
Members were advised that MNSs were located in areas of deprivation and worked with the most vulnerable children. It was highlighted that there was an opportunity to realign the provision for families and young children so services were more cost effective and supportive.
The Committee was informed that there was a task and finish group established to work with MNSs to formulate and implement a plan to secure their future and to ensure that the provision was delivered consistently across the county. The recommendations from the task group were due in October 2018.
Members felt that there should be more integration between Estates and the various service areas. Some of the nurseries had space available and it was highlighted that it would be sensible to utilise this space appropriately by looking at service co-location options.
The issue of the historical spread of nurseries was raised and members stated that the distribution of nurseries was important. Members also agreed that a consistent approach to Early Years Education across the county was needed.
The Committee enquired about early intervention with the Child and Family Wellbeing Service to ensure suitable alignment of services and how that could assist with the financial stabilisation of a large number of nurseries. It was confirmed that the task and finish group was already looking at what the structural future was for this particular part of Early Years provision and the Committee requested a response from the task and finish group for its November meeting.
- The report be noted.
- The implementation of the recommended actions set out in the report to support maintained nursery schools identified in Schools in Financial
Difficulty categories 1, 2 and 3 be endorsed.
- The outcome of the nursery task group be reported back to the committee in November.
Report author: Paul Bonser
Date of decision: 25/06/2018
Decided at meeting: 25/06/2018 - Education Scrutiny Committee