Cash help for 'opt out nurseries'

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The Independent Online
OPTED out primary schools will be able to create their own full- time nursery schools, completely funded by the Government, writes Colin Hughes.

Although the proposal is not spelt out in the Education Bill published yesterday , the Independent was told by the Department of Education that any primary school can apply to add a nursery. It added that the new Funding Agency for grant-maintained schools would 'look favourably' on such applications. Agency-approved full-time nursery places would be funded in the same way as primary school places.

That represents a substantial shift in government education policy, and creates a powerful incentive for primary schools to opt out where the local education authority has shown little interest in promoting nursery places.

It also raises the prospect of a substantial demand-led increase in education spending. The new policy has probably not been formally announced, therefore, because it is being thrashed out with the Treasury.

The education department said part-time places would not be funded; but a primary which opts out with its nursery could continue to provide part-time places as an agent for the local authority.