Croydon Council is asking residents for their views on a proposal to reduce the number of Maintained Nursery Schools through closures or mergers, to make the schools financially sustainable.
Croydon’s Executive Mayor approved plans to consult on the proposal at June’s Cabinet meeting following an update on the schools’ finances.
Maintained Nursery Schools are local authority-run schools that provide early years education and childcare to children aged two to four during school hours, usually 8.30am – 3.30pm during term time. They do not usually include wrap-around care, and some have seen a fall in numbers over the past three years.
The schools receive government funding and run at higher costs than other early years providers, as they must function like a school and employ a headteacher, special educational needs coordinator, qualified teachers, and meet the same standards and requirements as schools.
Maintained nurseries form part of Croydon’s wide range of early years education and childcare options for young children, with over 570 providers to choose from boroughwide.
The council and the schools have been working together to look at ways of reducing spend, and steps have been taken to reduce outgoings. The council is now looking at all options to make the schools financially sustainable. Doing nothing is not an option as the service must be financially sustainable to continue.
The consultation asks residents to have their say on the proposal to reduce the number of Maintained Nursery Schools in Croydon by closures or mergers.
All responses will help the Executive Mayor of Croydon in Cabinet to understand the impacts of the proposal and make an informed decision on the next steps.
At this stage of the process no decision has been made on the proposal. Following this consultation, if the decision is made to close or merge any of Croydon’s Maintained Nursery Schools, a further consultation will be run to ask for views on a more detailed proposal.
The consultation closes at 11.59pm, Tuesday 17 October.
“I know how important early years education and childcare is for families and we have a variety of options available for families in Croydon.
“When I became Mayor, I promised to fix the council’s finances, and this means addressing all areas of council debt. Our Maintained Nursery Schools are not financially viable as they are. Some are running at a loss which has led to an overall debt of over £560k, and we must find a way to make the service sustainable.
“Doing nothing isn’t an option, but before we consider how we move forward, we need to hear from the families who use the schools, past, present and future, to help develop alternative options. I encourage anyone with a connection to the schools to get involved and have their say.”
Jason Perry, Executive Mayor of Croydon