Memorandum submitted by Dorothy Gregory
1 My concerns are that the
change in the funding system will cause larger classes for very young children,
staff redundancies and the closures of some nursery schools.
2 As a headteacher of nursery schools for over 20years I am passionate about the right of every child to have the very best provision and there is no doubt that cuts in funding will adversely affect quality provision.
3 Such provision necessitates well qualified and committed staff who can provide a balance of teacher led and child initiated activities underpinned by a curriculum based on a co constructed process of observation and documentation. This is extremely difficult for children who only attend on a part time basis and high quality will be threatened.
4 Quality provision requires strong, visionary leadership by professionals with knowledge and understanding of young children's development. I would query the quality of future applicants who would want to lead part time provision.
5 My strongest concerns are for the most vulnerable children, those living in poverty and disadvantage. In so many cases school is not only a place of education but also a refuge where needs can be identified and networks established to support them. Many of these children will not attend on a part time basis. These are children with no boundaries, no routines, no healthy food or regular mealtimes and parents who are unable to cope. The children and families need full time support as they are doubly disadvantaged. Working with parents is a major part of nursery school life but interaction between home and school requires broad ranging intervention to be really
successful. Time is a crucial factor. Part time provision is not sufficient to address all the issues.
6 Encouraged by government initiatives, many parents have accessed paid employment. However in areas of disadvantage these jobs are often poorly paid and I would doubt the ability of the majority to continue employment if nursery hours are reduced as they would be unable to afford payment for extended hours.
7 Early years have received a higher profile in the last few years. However I feel that the provision of a mere 15 hours, particularly for vulnerable children, is little more than sticking plaster. I would also reiterate that it is not until children have attended nursery that problems are identified.