Yesterday, Save Salford Nurseries campaigners were back in London again, this time to meet with the Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, NadhimZahawi.
The delegation included parents, myself Lee Shannon, and Danielle Walker; Broughton nursery manager, Val Worrall and UNISON officer ,AmeenHadi, alongside Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett and Salford MPs, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Barbara Keeley.
Both parents spoke about the importance of keeping the five outstanding-rated nurseries open, and how the nurseries should be held as an example of how well public sector early years provision can perform, particularly for children with Special Educational Needs and those who have English as a second language. All of these nurseries score highly on school readiness, with children ready to start learning the school curriculum from day one.
Val Worrall then spoke about how local authority nurseries cannot disappear from the early years sector as a result of the changes to the funding formula as they have a vital role to play in supporting children and their families, some of whom are the most vulnerable in the city.
Paul Dennett made several excellent points to Nadhim Zahawi, including how the nurseries should be protected and how, nationwide, we don't have a level playing field. Salford is disproportionately affected by central Government cuts, not only in nursery funding, but in the Council budget as a whole, which has reduced more than half since 2010 due to Tory austerity.
The initial response from Nadhim Zahawi was to question why other local authority nurseries were not knocking at his door with similar funding problems. Nurseries in Birmingham, Bradford and Cambridge are all affected, however Salford is the first city to put together a campaign and take it to the Government.
The most positive news from the meeting was that Nadhim said he wants to work with the campaigners to find a solution to ensure the long term future of the nurseries, pointing out the work the nurseries do is invaluable, and adding that the Government will try to help wherever they can.
Overall, it's a 'work with us and we'll see what we can do' answer from the Government. Actions were agreed on both sides and further ministerial meetings will be taking place soon.
For further background see previous Salford Star article – Government To Finally Meet Nursery Campaigners - click here
Words by Lee Shannon
Photo by Gareth Lyons