A UNION has asked the council to halt a consultation which could see some of the county's 24 maintained nurseries closed.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has appealed to the director for education at Lancashire County Council to halt a consultation on the financial viability of 24 nursery schools - 19 of which are in East Lancashire.

The consultation into the future of early years settings was put on hold during the pandemic and after the NAHT and Department for Education wrote to all local authorities last February. But the consultation process is now set to restart.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, has described the continuation of the consultation as a ‘deeply concerning’ decision given the current climate and states Lancashire County Council is the first council they are aware of to have started a formal consultation.

He said: “Maintained nursery schools play a vitally important role in our education system.

“The essential value of maintained nursery schools has been clearly demonstrated during the Covid-19 crisis. They have remained open throughout lockdown, working tirelessly to provide essential support for families in some of the most deprived areas of the UK.

“It is widely accepted that early intervention is one of the most effective strategies to address gaps in learning. Children need the extra support of maintained nursery schools now more than ever as we tackle the challenge of education recovery.”

He also added that the settings offer high quality early education and support to children from deprived backgrounds and those with special educational needs and disability (SEND).

He added: “We urge Lancashire County Council and all local authorities to pause and ask the government to immediately confirm the extension of supplementary funding to 2022, as well as finally providing the long-term funding solution that has been repeatedly promised.”

The authority initially indicated it would consult on four of its 24 maintained nurseries which were deemed to be “financially unviable” – or in need of major changes to prevent them from falling into that category, while a further 10 were classed as “financially vulnerable”. The fourteen nurseries which are at risk have not been publicly named, however, the council later said it intended to hold a consultation into all 24 sites.

Edwina Grant, county council executive director for education and children’s services, said: “I am proud of our school leaders and their teams for how they’ve responded to the pandemic and worked to keep providing an education for our children.

“Recognising the current situation with Covid-19, we have decided to not engage in debate with the headteachers until mid-May. Until then we will continue with our analysis work, so that we can move quickly at that time.

“We went into the pandemic with concerns about the financial projections of some of the maintained nursery schools, for a range of reasons, and we are keen to talk to them as soon as possible as to how they see their position now. The aim of this consultation will be to have an open discussion with nurseries to find out more about any viability issues and how we can support them.

“The DfE makes it clear that any decision to close a nursery should only be made based on a strong case to do so.

“If individual maintained nurseries overspend, then it can impact on all schools’ budgets through the way that school funding works. So if one area is overspent, it is important we look at how we can support nurseries to make the best use of the available funding and protect all nursery places where we can.”

List of nurseries which are maintained by Lancashire County Council:


Rockwood Nursery School

Taywood Nursery School

Basnett Street Nursery School

Stoneyholme Nursery School

Reedley Hallows Nursery School

Rosegrove Nursery School

Ightenhill Nursery School

Whitegate Nursery School


Lee Royd Nursery School

Fairfield Nursery School


Newtown Nursery School

Bradley Nursery School

Woodfield Nursery School

McMillan Nursery School

Walton Lane Nursery School

Ribble Valley

Ribblesdale Nursery School


Bacup Nursery School

Staghills Nursery School

Hillside Nursery School

West Lancashire

Moorgate Nursery School


Highfield Nursery School

Duke Street Nursery School


Stoneygate Nursery School


Appletree Nursery School