BURY North MP James Frith and council leader Rishi Shori have called on the government to provide more funding for council-run nursery schools.

It comes amid fears that thousands of children with special needs could miss out on vital daily care and support unless the government continues to provide extra funding for them.

Maintained nursery schools provide care and support for more than 5,000 children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) across the UK.

The government has provided £55 million each year in supplementary funding for maintained nurseries since a new funding formula was introduced in 2017.

The additional funding was provided to cover the extra costs faced by maintained nursery schools, such as the need for more highly qualified staff.

However, it is set to end after 2019/20.

Nearly two thirds of councils responding to the recent survey by the Local Government Association said they fear maintained nursery schools in their area will close if the funding is not protected.

More than half also said the loss of funding would mean reduced support for children with SEND.

The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, is calling on government to commit to continue its funding for an extra year in 2020/21 to help councils keep maintained nurseries open before a long-term sustainable funding solution is found as part of the Spending Review.

Hoyle Nursery School, in Chesham Fold Road, is one of 397 maintained nursery schools across England.

More than 40,980 children are enrolled at maintained nursery schools, of which 13.8 per cent have SEND. Only 6.3 per cent of 3 and 4-year-olds in the general population have SEND.

Maintained nurseries are often more highly rated by Ofsted than other types of provision, and concentrated in areas of deprivation, which otherwise tend to experience lower-quality provision.

In a joint statement, Mr Frith and Cllr Shori said: “We have grave concerns about the future of maintained nursery schools if the government does not continue the funding beyond 2020.

“This could have a detrimental impact on children with special educational needs, for whom maintained nurseries provide a lifeline of vital support.

“The government must commit to an extra year of funding in 2020/21 as part of wider work to find a long-term sustainable funding solution in the Spending Review.

“We were disappointed at the lack of money in the Budget to address the wider funding pressures faced by councils in providing support for children with SEND and call on the Education Secretary to look at this issue as a matter of urgency.”