A Lewisham councillor joined campaigners handing in a petition to demand more funding for nurseries. 

Bellingham Cllr Alan Hall, along with parents, children, teachers, and head teachers arrived at Downing Street on March 2 to deliver the 25,000-signature petition to ‘save our nursery schools’. 

The petition was backed by the National Education Union, Early Education, the National Association of Head Teachers, and the APPG for Nursery Schools, Nursery and Reception Classes, as well as members who work in maintained nursery schools. 

There are 389 nursery schools in England but many have been forced to close “as a result of chronic underfunding”, according to the NEU.  

“Unless the Government changes course, even more nursery schools will face threat of closure.  

“They have accepted that nursery school funding is insufficient and as a stopgap measure, allocated some money to plug the holes – but only until 2021. 

“The Government must make a funding commitment in the Budget on March 11 that secures the long-term future of maintained nursery schools,” it said.  

Cllr Hall said: “Cutting and closing nurseries is a false economy. 

“Our pleas for secure and proper funding could be heard in No 10 but are they listening?”  

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said the Government’s attitude to nursery schools, “characterised by indifference and piecemeal measures”, is having a “detrimental effect on children at a critical stage in their development. 

“We cannot afford for this to continue.  

“Maintained nursery schools not only educate our youngest children but also provide the kind of support for parents and carers which is no longer available from local authorities.  

“It is vital Government listens as a matter of urgency to the thousands of people who have signed our petition for additional funding.” 

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We recognise the importance of maintained nursery schools and the valuable services they provide, particularly in disadvantaged areas. 

“We are providing around £60 million of supplementary funding for maintained nursery schools during the 2020-21 financial year and are committed to funding for these settings in the longer term.”