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Nursery headteacher forced to fundraise for resources marches on Westminster to demand funding

PUBLISHED: 17:30 13 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:30 13 March 2019

Carole Jacques from Earlham Early Years Nursery School in Norwich joined hundreds of others on a march to Downing Street to secure funding for maintained nursery schools. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Carole Jacques from Earlham Early Years Nursery School in Norwich joined hundreds of others on a march to Downing Street to secure funding for maintained nursery schools. Picture: Neil Didsbury

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The leader of a Norwich nursery has revealed she is having to decide between resources and is forced to fundraise to make sure children receive a good education.

Carole Jacques, headteacher of Earlham Early Years Nursery School in Norwich. Picture: Neil DidsburyCarole Jacques, headteacher of Earlham Early Years Nursery School in Norwich. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Carole Jacques, headteacher at Earlham Early Years Nursery School, joined around 600 colleagues on Monday as they descended on Westminster asking for long-term funding to secure their future.

Ms Jacques said not only had the local nursery grant been cut, but her nursery was expected to meet all the same requirements as a school - such as meeting Ofsted expectations and hiring qualified teachers - but without the same level of funding.

She said one example was that while it cost around £3,000 a term to support a child with an education, health and care plan (EHCP), the nursery only got £100 per child.

“We’re between a rock and a hard place,” she said. “That’s been the case for quite a while. We’ve lost 20 posts - not all full time - all of those 20 posts were needed, they all do a job and they remain.”

Ms Jacques joined hundreds of others on a march to Downing Street to secure funding for maintained nursery schools. Picture: Neil DidsburyMs Jacques joined hundreds of others on a march to Downing Street to secure funding for maintained nursery schools. Picture: Neil Didsbury

She said those roles had now been taken on by others, such a Ms Jacques becoming the special educational needs coordinator, alongside her role as headteacher. The job used to be a three day a week post.

“Staff are having to pick up a huge amount of extra work. It’s put a huge strain on our resources, we are doing fundraising and applying for grants, and trying to get as much as possible for free.

“I’ve gone to a printing company a couple of times and got end of roll paper.”

Children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi joined the campaigners on Monday, which also included nurseries from Emneth and King’s Lynn, before they handed a letter to chancellor Philip Hammond demanding him to safeguard the future of maintained nursery schools in the forthcoming spending review.

The children at Earlham Early Years Nursery School in Norwich enjoying story time. Picture: Neil DidsburyThe children at Earlham Early Years Nursery School in Norwich enjoying story time. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Some £24m has been provided up to 2020/21 but the concern is what happens after that.

A total of 251 heads signed the letter to Mr Hammond, which read: “However, the long-term survival of maintained nursery schools still hangs by a thread.

“The fact remains that, even with the supplementary funding, most maintained nursery schools have had to make large cuts and make hard decisions to balance reduced budgets.

“Exceptional, highly trained, early-years staff have been lost to the system through restructures or because of the constant worry of an uncertain future.

“As head teachers and governors we are trying to plan for a future that, without the sustainable funding, will probably mean the closure of our schools.

“We are making decisions that could be detrimental to the future of our schools because we have no clear decision from the Government about our funding.

“We need your support again. We need stability to continue the life-changing work we do.”

It concluded: “Our schools help families to grow, and we nurture and develop the children we support. There will be a terrible cost to our social fabric, and the wider education and care system, if our schools cease to exist.”

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis also joined the campaigners. He said: “Maintained nurseries do extraordinary work closing the gap between the most disadvantaged children and their peers, often in areas of deprivation and with particular expertise in supporting children with special educational needs or disabilities.

“This government must commit now to a continuation of funding for these nurseries past 2020. If that commitment isn’t made, these vital early years providers will be bracing themselves for a 30pc cut to their budgets which could spell the end for hundreds of nurseries.”

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