Welwyn Hatfield politicians agree: save maintained nursery funds

There is cross-party support for continuing maintained nurseries' funding. L-R Tamsin Jackson-Mynott

There is cross-party support for continuing maintained nurseries' funding. L-R Tamsin Jackson-Mynott (LD), Rosie Newbigging (Lab) with Ludwick Nursery head Karen James, MP Grant Shapps (Con). Pictures: supplied - Credit: supplied

From the council to the MP’s surgery, pretty much every politician in Welwyn Hatfield is calling for the Government to keep maintained nursery funding - but will the Treasury follow through?

In 2017, the Government introduced £55million extra funding for maintained nurseries, but this is set to end after 2020.

Ludwick Nursery School in WGC, Birchwood Nursery in Hatfield, and Tenterfield Nursery School in Welwyn are all maintained nurseries - they provide specialist education for children with disabilities and special educational needs.

Headteacher Karen James of Ludwick Nursery said they wouldn’t be able to save enough to cover costs if the funding runs out, telling the WHT in October: “I am very concerned that unless more funding is allocated, maintained nurseries will close for good.”

This was heard loud and clear by Rosie Newbigging, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate, and MP Grant Shapps, both of whom visited Ludwick last week.

Ms Newbigging said: “It is shameful that the government has failed to confirm long term financial security for the nurseries,” adding that Labour policy guarantees funding for maintained schools as part of its plan to establish a National Education Service.

At a council meeting on Monday, November 19, Liberal Democrat councillor for Peartree ward Tamsin Jackson-Mynott put forward a motion for the council to ask Mr Shapps to support the cause in Government, which was carried unanimously by the council.

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Her own daughter attends a maintained nursery school, and she spoke about their value. She said: “I’ve heard people dismiss these schools as being nothing more than play with no real teaching but that could not be more wrong.

“Of course there is a lot of learning through play but my daughter is taught creatively to amazing effect.

“I’ve seen her flourish in her time there.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Nigel Quinton also plans to raise the issue at county council level tonight (Tuesday, November 27).

Two days later, Mr Shapps joined the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Nursery Schools at parliament, where Mrs James spoke out about her concerns to politicians across the spectrum.

Mr Shapps said: “Although I know that the government says that funding for nurseries is part of the decision-making process of the next Comprehensive Spending Review, I am writing to the Chancellor to lend my support to this very worthy campaign.”

Mrs James told the Welwyn Hatfield Times that she’s pleased with the political unity. She said: “It’s great to have all this cross-party political support, and huge support from parents as well.

“But it’s a decision for the Department of Education and the Treasury, so we’re still left with this uncertainty.”