Calls to stop consultation on the future of Lancashire nurseries
The Chorley Council has called for a consultation on the future of the borough’s two maintained preschools.
Lancashire County Council, which manages Duke Street and Highfield [Wright Street] in the district, began the process earlier this month after more than a year of delay due to the pandemic.
As the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) revealed in January 2020, the authority initially intended to assess four of its 24 incubators deemed financially unsustainable.
However, he later expanded the consultation to include them all, warning that each site could become unsustainable if the government does not commit to continuing with an additional top-up grant for preschools that was previously scheduled to end in March 2021. This cash has since been guaranteed for an additional 12 months.
A meeting of the full Chorley council heard claims that the consultation was “premature” and “untimely” as the county tries to emerge from the pandemic. A notice of motion presented by Labor councilor Hasina Khan asked the district manager to write to County Hall asking for him to be arrested.
Cllr Bev Murray, a cabinet member for early intervention with the Labor-led authority, said the two kindergartens in the district catered for children whose needs could not be met by other providers – and had been successful to balance their accounts in the current and in the future. years. The latter point has made council chief Alistair Bradley question why they should go ‘through that ringtone’.
Cabinet member Alistair Morwood – former chairman of the governors of the two schools, which are deemed “exceptional” by OFTED – warned that private nurseries were not “lining up” to take on the role of institutions, which, according to OFTED him, gives children “The best start in life, especially those with special educational needs and disabilities”.
“They can never – and never will – be able to replace preschools and their teachers,” said Cllr Morwood.
He also called on Lancashire County Council’s newly elected Conservative leader Phillippa Williamson to remember an event for preschool governors – during her tenure as a member of the children’s cabinet – in which she said “how crucial it is, how essential [nursery schools] were the life of the children of this arrondissement ”.
However, the leader of Chorley’s Tory opposition group, Martin Boardman, questioned the timing of the motion and noted that the county council had never mentioned that “some” kindergartens were not viable. financially.
“While Chorley’s two preschools are exceptional and have managed to balance their books, there is nothing to worry about.
“The [are] 24 of these schools – some of the 24 overspend and every penny of overrun affects all other maintained schools in Lancashire. Every penny is needed in every school, ”said Cllr Boardman, who is also a former principal.
The conservative group abstained in the vote.
The LDRS understands that the consultation of the departmental council will gather information on the service offered by preschools, as well as their financial situation, in order to provide strategic support to those in need.
In a statement released after the meeting, Lancashire County Council Executive Director of Education and Children’s Services Edwina Grant said the consultation had been postponed from a scheduled start in March, following the representations of school principals and in recognition of the pandemic situation at that time.
She added: “The future of nurtured preschools in Lancashire is integral to how local authorities respond to the needs of children and families across the county. They constitute a key element of the offer for early childhood, often in disadvantaged geographical areas.
“Now that many advisory services are working as usual, this consultation is ongoing.
“Ensuring that we have the correct and most up-to-date information so that we can support the maintained nursery school sector and identify which, if any, of our nursery schools need help and support to plan for the future. is a priority. ”
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