A full three weeks after the Department of Education revealed to the Salford Star that it had not received a request from Salford City Council for Early Years funding flexibility, the Salford Mayor has finally written to Nick Gibb, Minister of State for School Standards, asking for discussions "as a matter of urgency".
Salford Council is proposing to shut its five OFSTED rated outstanding nurseries due to changes in the funding formula for Early Years, which mean it cannot retain as much subsidy for its own childcare places as previously.*
The consultation on the closures was due to start on 26th February but, after huge opposition by parents, staff and unions at a public meeting, and the revelation by the Salford Star that funding flexibility hadn't even been requested from the Government, the consultation was halted for a month.
During the month's grace, the Mayor and councillors have agreed to take part in a campaign with parents, staff, unions and activists to lobby the Government for extra funding, and this will conclude with a Save Our Nurseries march and rally on 24th March, two days before a new closure consultation is set to start.
The march will be from Victoria Park in Swinton, to the Salford Civic Centre in Swinton, and the Mayor will be one of the speakers at the rally, along with parents, staff and unions.
In the meantime, the letter, dated 9th March and co-signed by Salford Conservative Party Leader, Les Turner, has now, finally, been sent to the Government.
The letter states that the "redistribution of the funding towards providers to support working parents...has had a profound impact on services". It adds that the Council didn't consider that it was eligible to apply for what it calls 'disapplication of the regulation', nor for extra funding for Maintained Nursery Schools, and has "no option but to reconsider the future of our 5 Dedicated Schools Grant Funded and much loved local authority nurseries".
The Mayor asks for the Council to be eligible for the Maintained Nursery School funding and "for any future funding that is made available", adding that he "would welcome a discussion with a lead officer in the area of Dedicated Schools Grant as a matter of urgency, given the planned consultation will commence on 26th March".
The Minister now has less than two weeks to respond and sort out the mess...
March and Rally To Save Our Nurseries
Saturday 24th March
Victoria Park 11am
Almost 6,000 people have now signed the petition to Save The Nurseries - to sign, click here
*For a full background see previous Salford Star articles...
Over 100 Workers Could Lose Jobs in Salford Council Nursery Massacre – click here
Salford Nursery Closure Fightback Begins – click here
Hundreds of People Pack Save Salford Nurseries Meeting – click here
Salford Council Nursery Closure Government Bombshell – click here
Salford Council U-turn On Closure Consultation – click here
Save Our Nurseries Lobby Becomes Press Launch of Campaign – click here
Salford Council Still Not Asked For Funding Flexibility As Closure Clock Ticks – click here