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Staff march on Downing Street over nursery school funding

Parliamentary reporter @TrinderMatt

ABOUT 150 nursery school staff joined parents from across England to demand more funding for the sector in a protest outside Downing Street today.

Headteachers’ union NAHT said a delegation was due to deliver a petition, demanding more cash support, to No 11, Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s official residence, after the Star published this story.

Up to 2,000 school leaders, staff and educators signed the petition following warnings from campaigners that council-run nursery schools, many of which are in the most disadvantaged areas of the country, need more help after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some centres have been forced to cut staff and services because of lost income and additional pandemic costs, coupled with a lack of certainty over the funding they will receive next year, unions warn.

Ahead of Mr Sunak’s spending review next week, school staff are calling for enough resources “to put in place a long-term viable funding solution.”

Before the protest, NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said: “Maintained nursery schools have been left in limbo for years, under threat of closure.

“As we head towards the spending review it is critical, now more than ever, that the Chancellor delivers once and for all for the sector.”

Unison assistant general secretary Jon Richards added: “These schools play a vital role in supporting young children with complex and special educational needs.

“Nurseries need a long-term funding settlement urgently to ensure they have enough staff — no child should be left behind because of budget cuts.”

A Department for Education spokesperson claimed that ministers are providing local authorities with about £60 million in supplementary funding for nurseries this financial year, with “decisions on future spending” to be made next week.

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