Salford nursery campaigners – including mayor Paul Dennett – took their argument for proper funding to government minister Nadhim Zahawi today.
Their meeting with the children and families minister follow a successful campaign meeting in Westminster at the end of April and campaigning work by UNISON.
Workers and parents, together with their trade union UNISON and Salford mayor Paul Dennett, are asking the government to take two steps to guarantee the future of the city’s five local authority nurseries – which are rated ‘outstanding’ by regulator Ofsted.
They are calling on the government to reverse changes to the Dedicated Schools Grant which prevent councils from spending all but a small percentage on directly delivered early years services.
As an immediate step, they are also asking that councils are allowed to use £55m transitional funding to allow schools-based nurseries to manage changes.
The nurseries were originally faced with closure this August, but after a 300-strong public meeting and discussions with parents and unions, Salford’s mayor agreed to invest a further £1.5m to secure them until at least August 2019.
“This is a campaign that the people of Salford have rallied behind because they know how much it means to keep these nurseries open,” said Salford branch secretary Steve North: “Not just for the children and families who use them now, but for future generations.
“The changes to funding are impacting other parts of the country and we have launched a national petition to highlight this.
“We are hoping Mr Zahawi will listen to our representatives and will take steps to support councils who want to ensure outstanding early years provision.”
The call was backed by general secretary Dave Prentis. Writing in his blog ahead of today’s meeting, he said: “All too often, early years is a poor relation, yet all the evidence suggests that intervention at an early age has the greatest impact on the lives of young people and their families.
“It is the responsibility of the government to take nursery cuts seriously – and that should start with the most senior voices in that government.
“Please support the campaign and demand the government reverse changes to the Direct Schools Grant.”