Following a consultation with its five maintained nursery schools (MNS), West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) has now finalised its budget settlement for MNSs for the financial year 2022 -23.
All five MNSs participated in the consultation and with their input a funding formula based mainly on pupil hours but also taking account of deprivation, based in the index of deprivation (IMD) in catchment areas was used to set the budgets.
Cllr Fiona Baker, WNC’s Cabinet member for children, families and education, said: “I would like to thank all the heads and chairs of governors who took part in the consultation and for their very helpful feedback. It has been a challenging and complex process and I am pleased that we have now reached agreement on a final budget settlement.
“As part of the budget settlement, all five MNSs within West Northants benefit from a £718,000 funding supplement provided by the government through the Dedicated Schools Grant. At present, Camrose Nursery School receives £259,000 from this grant, some of which is used to provide valued services to its local community outside normal curriculum hours. This has been agreed thanks to the generosity of the head teachers at the other three nursery schools (Parklands is federated with Camrose).
“WNC aims to achieve a more equitable and representative sharing of the subsidy funding across all MNSs over the next three years, requiring the Camrose Nursery School’s supplement to be reduced over time to help deliver this.
“There will be further discussions with all MNSs during the 2022/23 financial year about the formula to be used from 2023/24 and beyond and the council will continue to seek external funding in order that as many children as possible in all deprived areas can benefit from ‘wrap-around-services’.”
To enable Camrose Nursery School to plan its reductions to its future years’ budgets, WNC has allocated it £95,000 as a one-off contribution from a central underspend of the Dedicated Schools Grant.
The head teachers and chairs of governors from Gloucester, Wallace Road and Whitehills nursery schools, who have participated in the consultation on the budget, have acknowledged the plans to move to more equitable funding and have commented: “We are happy with the three-year timescale for the implementation of the maintained nursery school formula in full, as we recognise the difficulties that would be caused to Camrose if it had been immediate.
The head teacher and chair of governors of Camrose nursery school said: “We understand fully the need for the grant to be distributed in a way that is fair to all maintained nursery schools, and are grateful to our colleagues for their generosity in agreeing to spread the budget reduction that Camrose will experience over three years.
“We are also grateful to the council for allocating a one-off grant to assist us in the first year of the transition. However, we want to protect the additional services we currently offer and will be seeking to work as a nursery, and with the council, to identify possible additional sources of funding to continue to provide these.”