Childcare Minister Liz Truss refuses extra funds for threatened nurseries

 

Education Correspondent

It would be “invidious” of the Government to save hundreds of outstanding nursery schools facing closure because of funding changes, Childcare Minister Liz Truss told an all-party committee of MPs today.

Pat Glass, Labour MP for North West Durham, had called on Ms Truss to reinstate the nurseries’ previously ring-fenced funding and protection against closure, arguing that the schools were too good to be allowed to “wither on the vine”.

Many of the remaining 418 standalone maintained nursery schools are at risk of closure because they are more expensive to run than nurseries attached to schools, the education select committee heard.

However, the vast majority (96 per cent) have been judged to be good or outstanding by Ofsted and are renowned for the high quality of their staff.

But Ms Truss was adamant that maintained nurseries should not get special treatment. She told the committee: “There are 16,339 school nurseries and 418 nursery schools. Do I support high quality teacher-led provision? Absolutely, wherever it is. But to say that these 418 are better than the 16,000 school nursery classes, we do not have any evidence for that.

“Why should it be that because they are a maintained nursery school they get extra money. That is not equitable. I think it would be invidious of the Government to pick out particular schools for extra funding because of their structure.”

Ms Truss was giving evidence after being recalled to the Select Committee after MPs said they were “disappointed” by the “inadequate” Government response to the committee’s report into Children’s Centres published in December last year.

Ms Glass said: “Many of them [maintained nursery schools] are outstanding. Many of them are facing imminent closure. Are we really in the business of closing the best of our schools?”

MPs also questioned Ms Truss about how funding cuts had affected the network of Children’s Centres. Bill Esterson, Labour MP for Sefton Central, said a 15 per cent reduction in the Early Intervention Grant over the last year suggested that the network was at risk.

Committee Chairman Graham Stuart, Conservative MP for Beverley and Holderness, highlighted statistics showing that 60 per cent of parents had used a children’s centre five times or less in the last year. He said: “Are we seriously suggesting that’s a serious intervention? We are spending a vast amount of money on a programme that looks to all intents and purposes that it has been hollowed out.”

Ms Truss responded saying there had only been 76 centre closures since 2010 with six new centres opened. She said: “We must be careful not to talk down Children’s centres. Tales of closure across the network are not true.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee