Nursery provision threatened by new budget plans

Local parents and teachers have been stunned this week to hear of plans for significant cuts in education spending.

The Council has notified the community that because of a much reduced Government grant the axe needs to fall on the education budget which makes up over half of the total. The reason that the grant is low is that it has been calculated on growth in population which is increasing more slowly in Hounslow than other parts of London. The Government has increased spending on education but most of that is taken up by rising costs partly brought about by increased teachers' salaries.

Hounslow's Revenue Support Grant increased by 4.39% against a national average of 5.35% In the area of education an extra £6.666mn was given to Hounslow which was up 6.2% against a national average of 8.7%

According the Council the low grant combined with the the increased GLA Precept would require a rise of up to 20% if services were maintained at the current level.

The planned cuts will take £3mn out of the education budget with Nursery education being particularly targetted. There will be no more funding for nursery nurses in reception classes at present included in the budgets of schools with infant classes. The council spends more on this area than their standard spending assessment because they admit children to nursery classes at three and four-year-olds full-time to reception classes whereas the government only funds the admission of four-year-olds to nursery classes and rising fives to reception classes. The cuts would seem to make redundancies amongst nursery teachers highly possible. It may be individual schools in Chiswick will have their own funds available to maintain standards of provision.

Michael Sterne, a former lead member for education at Hounslow Council, has urged people to campaign against the cuts and a petition with over 10,000 signatures is planned. He has suggested writing or e-mailing the Leader of Hounslow Council, John Connelly and the lead member for education Cllr. Sharma. He also urged that people write to MPs Ann and Alan Keen about the serious problems caused by the government’s financial settlement. Letters can be sent to the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA or as attachments to emails to Alan Keen ( or to Ann Keen via her Assistant, Anita Ralli (

There has been some speculation that the Council has deliberately highlighted cuts to nursery education with a view to later withdrawing them and using this to justify a high Council Tax rise this year. One local resident commented, "This is spin on a par with New Labour in Westminster. Serious questions need to be asked about this budget as opposed to people just taking everything the Council says at face value."

Michael Sterne refuted these claims pointing out that as such a large proportion of the budget it is inevitable that education would be a target. He said: "The choice is stark: either increase council tax or cut services. You can't have it both ways and you can't hold Hounslow responsible for the government's actions."

Serious Cuts Proposed in Education