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Hidden Value: A report exploring the role and future of maintained nursery schools in London

Our research reveals that many of these schools face closure within the next two years unless the government takes urgent action.

  • By Hannah Barker

By collating findings from interviews with headteachers and leaders representing around a quarter of London’s Maintained Nursery Schools, this research aims to uncover their hidden value, including the contribution they make to social mobility and the school readiness agenda by supporting some of London’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable children.

Maintained nurseries are vital to delivering the government’s social mobility agenda. They prioritise working with the most disadvantaged children and provide high quality teaching and support that helps narrow the gap between deprived children and their peers. They also support a disproportionate number of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), particularly those with the most complex needs. Specialist teachers are employed who recognise signs of SEND at an early age and develop learning plans tailored to the needs of each child, ensuring that children with SEND are supported and ready for school.

However it is unclear how much longer these settings can continue to provide this support. The government has invested £55 million to ensure that maintained nursery schools can remain open – but this funding isn’t guaranteed past March 2020. A recent London Councils survey found that maintained nursery schools in over a third of London boroughs may be threatened with closure if the government were to remove this additional investment, and the majority of headteachers interviewed as part of the recent research have warned that they will soon have to begin turning away pupils with complex needs unless more funding is secured.

To ensure that maintained nusery schools can continue to provide effective support for the most vulnerable children, London Councils recommends that the government implements a sustainable funding solution for maintained nursery schools, which acknowledges their status as schools, their higher costs, and the distinct role they play in the early years system.

Read the full report

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Hannah Barker, Principal Policy and Project Officer