Memorandum submitted by Dee Teasdale

 

 

1. I should like to bring the following to your attention regarding the extended offer of 15 hours for 3-4 year olds which is due to commence in September 2010.

 

 

2. I am the Headteacher of Walkergate Early Years Centre. The Centre has been operating in the Walkergate area for 30 years providing full and part time places. The majority of children who attend the Centre come from the local area. The following changes will have an impact on the community that the school serves. We serve a mixed community and often our parents come from other authorities because of historical ties and our reputation.

On our site we have a voluntary not for profit charity that provides day care 0-3 and a Children's Centre. We all share the same building and the same vision for families and children.

We are unique in relation to Newcastle and have fulfilled the requirements for extended services for many years. We are fearful that the funding regime will jeopardise the early intervention and prevention work that we are currently able to offer to families and children.

 

3. The Local Authority have worked to provide a formula that matches within the departments guidelines. They are supporting Walkergate, as a maintained nursery setting, with transitional funding over the next two years. This will help to ease some of the difficulties we face whilst trying to give an outstanding service with diminishing resources. In this setting we stand to lose approximately 270, 000 from our budget with possible additional loss or gain with a trigger and clawback mechanism within term.

 

4. Lack of funding - through the new funding requirements and place funding withdrawal

OUTCOME -

Loss of jobs - to school staff team, outlying services and related Local Authority Services. Additional loss of jobs for parents who cannot sustain part time working. Many of our parents exist on the borderline for benefits or who have employers who cannot be so flexible in childcare terms. Many of the jobs fall into the lower pay scales.

 

Lower levels of support to children including fewer hours spent in the school setting. This could lead to a range of social issues resulting in higher levels of social service involvement.

 

The additional effect to a range of other practitioners who support school cannot as yet be identified.

 

 

5.15 hours extended offer

OUTCOME -

Lower offer than the full time places currently been given to 3-4 year olds.

 

Loss of curricular extension time impacting on children's development and ability to progress to the next steps of learning.

 

Parents who were planning to go back into the world of work - not able to access training and unable to afford adequate childcare.

 

Rising threes not able to access the provision. Younger children have been able to access at least part time provision to support their learning.

 

 

6. It was the Labour Government's vision that Early Years provision could act as an enabler for parents, allowing them time to return to work, enter training or achieve a better balance in their work and family life. The Government also considered that parents who are able to go into training or work brings considerable benefits to the children and often an effective change to the society that the children live in. The erosion in the time that we currently give will not help us to manage any of these benefits. Many submissions from our parents support this view.

 

 

7. The Government have clearly stated that the extended offer is predicated on clear evidence which shows that involvement in high quality early years education can lead to better educational and social outcomes for all children - which last through primary school. There are particular benefits for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The shortening of the day already on offer will not help us address the imbalances for our children. There will be undoubtedly be adverse effect on the further stages of education i.e. Foundation Profile and Key Stage results.

 

 

8. Walkergate Early Years Centre is situated in an area where there are significant disadvantages for children. We have an outstanding reputation in relation to providing for children, families and community. Out latest Ofsted inspection (July 2008) graded us Outstanding in all areas. We can prove that we help our children to have outstanding progress over the time that they spend with us. The children progress very well in the areas of personal, social and emotional development and communication language and literacy development. These are the building blocks for the following areas of Every Child Matters, Enjoy and Achieve, Economic Well Being and Making a Positive Contribution. High quality input to these areas helps to ensure that children are able to become citizens fit for the 21st Century society. This is something that the City of Newcastle will seriously need to maintain a future economic basis. We will not be able to serve our children well on a part time offer.

 

 

9. Parents are just beginning to realise the implications of the extended offer and are justifiably angry at what they consider to be an erosion of the quality and service that they have previously received from this Centre.

 

 

10. The DCSF guidance clearly states that it is not the intention to close nursery schools. If this is a serious consideration from the Government there should have been exemption clauses to protect maintained nursery schools. I agree with Baroness Walmsley that there should be an amendment to the bill protecting maintained nursery schools. Unfortunately the impact of budgetary cuts could over time result in our establishment becoming non viable.

 

December 2009