Memorandum submitted by Horsham Nursery School, Children and Family Centre

 

Introduction

 

This submission is being made by Debbie Carter - Headteacher of Horsham Nursery School Children and Family Centre.

I have been a Headteacher at the above nursery school for the past 6 years and have taken on the Head of Children's Centre role since January 2008 when we became a Children and Family Centre.

 

Executive Summary

 

The development of the SFF to be implemented in April 2010 will have a significant impact on our nursery school with a potential budget shortfall of 200,000. A loss of this magnitude will impact significantly on our ability to continue to offer an 'Outstanding' (Ofsted 2009), quality of education for the children of Horsham and the surrounding area.

 

In 2008 we moved into a purpose built nursery school and children's centre, accommodating 78 part time places, offering 12 1/2 hours of free education to all children the term after their 3rd birthday..

 

Factual Information

 

The impact of the SFF in West Sussex

 

1. The 3milion pounds invested in Horsham Nursery School Children' and Family Centre will be under a significant threat as the formula will only provide for staffing levels in line with the national minimum leaving insufficient funding under the formula to maintain the building. This will threaten the future sustainability of the nursery provision and could ultimately result in the closure of the nursery school

 

2. The nursery school has always had good Ofsted judgements 1997, 2000, 2006, and last year in 2009, received an Outstanding judgement. The SFF will threaten the continued development of the provision to build on and sustain this judgment, therefore providing a beacon of excellence across West Sussex that can be shared with other PVI providers

 

3. There are 4 maintained Nursery Schools in West Sussex, 3 have outstanding Ofsted grades and 1 good. There are 433 PVI providers. The redistribution of money will not significantly increase the level of funding for the PVI providers and will severely disable the Nursery schools ability to maintain their current outstanding judgments.

 

4. The reduction in funding will adversely affect staffing ratios and experienced staff will be lost at a time when early years and early intervention have a high national and local priority.

 

5. West Sussex's formula operates on the basis of 95% capacity. This is not achievable, and most private nurseries would look at 85% occupancy being a sustainable business model.

 

6. The Nursery Schools in West Sussex have all been developed into Children and Family Centres. All centres have developed integrated teams and working practices in line with the governments agenda to provide a more safe and seamless services to families and young children. The work of these centres ensures that children's safeguarding issues are at the centre of our work and that early intervention programmes are in place to support the most vulnerable members of the community. The impact of the SFF severely affects the long term sustainability of these centres in times of reducing budgets across both Nursery School and Children's Centres.

 

7. Our Nursery schools have always focused on vulnerable children and children with additional needs. Experienced teaching staff and SENCO's ensure that children are well supported. Often children who are not flourishing in PVI settings are transferred to maintained provision where staff expertise helps to ensure children's needs are met. A reduction in funding will severely limit our capacity to do this to our current standard. This will have funding implications further up the school if early identification and intervention of the most vulnerable is threatened.

 

8. Nursery Schools are held accountable for their budgets and the quality of the provision they offer in a variety of ways: including through the governing body, termly SIP visits, Head teachers' performance management, FMSIS etc. The PVI sectors have no such financial controls or accountability in relation to raising standards which is a key feature of the drive to create a SFF.

 

9. The Nursery Schools and PVI sector are inspected under different Ofsted regimes therefore there is no parity or comparisons that can be made against judgements. The PVI have a much less rigorous inspection regime.

 

Recommendations for Action

 

1. Re think the single formula funding - it is really going to raise standards? Or is it more likely to spread funding with no discernable increase in quality across the PVI sector but a significant decrease in the provision offered by the maintained nursery schools.

 

2. Look to increase the funding for early years in West Sussex which has a low government settlement.

 

3. Scrutinise the potential impact on quality that the SFF might have on the PVI providers at the price of destroying the outstanding provision that Maintained Nursery School provide in West Sussex.

 

4. Require authorities to have an average % occupancy capacity that is realistic within the formula

 

5. Investigate how the existing capacity in the autumn and spring terms could be used to develop the quality of PVI provision across the Nursery schools localities.

 

December 2009