One of my priorities is to try to correct some of the historic unfairness to Cornwall when it comes to various funding formulas. This includes the Early Years National Funding Formula, and I want to make sure that early years providers are funded on a fair and sustainable basis.
I recently met with Caroline Dinenage MP, who is the minister responsible for early years at the Department for Education. It was a constructive and encouraging meeting. I had been concerned about the way in which Cornwall was to be funded under initial proposals, and wanted to ensure that we are treated fairly.
The Government’s response to the recent consultation includes assurances that the Government will provide supplementary funding of £55 million a year to local authorities for maintained nursery schools for the duration of this parliament. This will keep funding stable during the implementation of the national funding formula.
I am also pleased that all local authorities will receive a minimum funding rate of at least £4.30 per hour. The Government is also introducing a new national Disability Access Fund to support access for disabled children.
I am always hugely impressed by the work done at schools such as Camborne Nursery School. Last year, the school received its fourth successive “outstanding” report. Ofsted inspectors were impressed by the quality of education provided to children, and their levels of confidence. The school has opened a dedicated classroom for two year olds to enable staff to prepare them for their school years.
The first three years of a child's life are the most formative and have a crucial impact on a child's life chances. Many primary school head teachers tell me they have noticed a growing trend in the last twenty years of children arriving in reception class with language difficulties and, however much effort those schools put in, those children start at a disadvantage. This is why I will continue to support local nursery schools, and fight to ensure that Cornwall is funded fairly.