Memorandum submitted by Bollin Primary School, Trafford

 

Concerns regarding the changes to the funding of Nursery through the introduction of a single funding formula.

 

 

1. Bollin Primary School has a Nursery class that can offer up to 52 part time places (26 morning and 26 afternoon). The school currently offers a 'mixed economy' of 12 full time, 14 morning and 14 afternoon places and this reflects the needs of the school community.

 

2. From April 2010, the Local Authority has made the decision that no full time places will be funded and the money that is being saved is being reallocated across all sectors using the single funding formula. No full time places will be offered unless parents can contribute towards the cost.

Despite perceptions that Bollin Primary School is located in a 'leafy suburb', it may be that this cost (4 per hour) will be prohibitive for some family circumstances. The full time places are currently taken by parents who work. Some are single parents. Other places are offered to children in vulnerable circumstances who might have Special Educational Needs - particularly Speech and Communication, or English as an Additional Language needs.

In some more challenging areas in the borough, full time places are desperately required by some families - these are children who really need early support.

3. Bollin Primary School's budget for 2010, based on the single funding formula will be reduced by 10,000. This will need to be supported by the school's budget - or the Nursery admissions policy will need to be altered. There could be staffing implications for the future, particularly as there will be further budget constraints when the next 3 year funding cycle starts in 2011.

 

4. The Local Authority is moving almost 80,000 from the schools' sector to the PVI sector as a result of applying the single funding formula. This means that a number of Nursery classes in Primary and Infant schools will be affected. Despite 300,000 'protection' being used to support 'losing' schools, there are 31 schools losing money, ranging from between 1,038 to 12,699. In comparison, there are far fewer losses in the PVI sector once the formula is applied. 12 settings lose money, ranging from between 3 to 852 - the rest of the 90 settings are small gainers.

 

5. As a knock on effect, schools will probably apply a number of strategies to ensure that they have appropriate funding by filling places. This could be:

i. offering places for rising 3s

ii. admitting children at different stages through the year

iii. actively marketing against the PVI sector

iv. charging competitive prices for any spare capacity

As a result, other childcare settings may find that they have difficulty in maintaining their offer and flexibility could effectively become further reduced across the Local Authority.

 

6. The formula appears to be driven in order to provide the best options for part time employment and the flexibility that this requires. The formula can be designed to offer incentives for this type of offer. It appears that PVI settings will be able to accommodate more flexibility and therefore enhance their budgets further.

Schools are unable to offer a wide range of flexibility because of the constrictions of the school day - unless they have Extended day services already set up.

 

7. It may be difficult for The Bollin Primary School to provide 15 hours because the school day does not naturally fit this timetable. Many other schools in the local area are rearranging the Nursery hours in order that staff can be offered a lunch break.

At the moment, Reception class hours at school are from 8.55am until 3.15am. The Nursery cannot offer two 3 hour sessions in this time frame as teaching and support staff would only have 20 minutes break for lunch. If the school alters the start of the day, parents with older siblings may be dropping off Nursery children at 8.45am and will then have to wait until the rest of school is opened before the older children are admitted - the process will be reversed in the afternoon and Reception children may be dismissed at 3.15pm and Nursery at 3.30pm.

 

8. Finally, the single funding formula is moving provision from Early Years 'Education' to 'Childcare', and in Local Authorities that have previously offered excellent quality Early Years Provision, the PVI sector is reaping financial rewards. It seems ethically wrong that excellent state nursery classes are being sacrificed for settings that are run as businesses - and, regardless of quality, which are actually designed to provide a profit for the owners.

 

 

November 2009