Hungerford Nursery School 2023 Appeal

Hungerford Nursery School provides excellent early-years education to Hungerford and the wider community (for which it has won serval awards and professional accolades) and yet still needs to call for more volunteers and financial sponsorship. Moreover it is (as of 6 February 2023) still unaware of the nature of its financial settlement from Whitehall after 1 April 2023.

Pupil numbers have been rising recently (104 currently) and also the proportion of pupils who are considered vulnerable (29%), who receive free entitlement (26%) and who are SEND (28%). All these ratios are considerably higher than when the Head Teacher, Suzanne Taylor, took over 14 years ago. The School is also  – in the absence of any DfE support – funding cooked lunches for 11 children a day whose parents can’t afford to pay: this costs the school about £2,200 a term and cannot continue unless it can be funded by other means in the future.

Hungerford Nursery School is truly exceptional, winning several awards including the GOLD Award for Learning Outside the Classroom and the Communication Friendly Spaces Award from Elklan. It is running Action Research projects with Universities of Oxford and Bristol. It is part of a successful bid to form a National Early Years Stronger Practice Hub. Suzanne herself is now Area Lead for the DfE Early Years Covid Recovery Programme in Wiltshire. The School has trained teachers. It is a facilitator for NPQEYL (National Professional Qualification in Early Years Leadership). Five staff are part of the National Early Years Covid Recovery Programme for the Department of Education which is supporting other settings all over the South. It has runs training for WBC on Outstanding EY Settings following its latest Outstanding Ofsted report (indeed, it’s never had any other rating than “outstanding”).

Despite all these achievements, financial threats remain to both the Nursery School and the Centre for Families. Many of these stem from the fact that they are catering for more children with special requirements than the funding is able to support. Juggling staffing numbers, applying for grants, grappling with new government schemes and appealing for, and inducting, volunteers all occupy a good deal of staff time. There is also the continued backdrop of the uncertainty for funding maintained nursery schools at all, which results in basic funding being allocated only annually. Nor have rising energy costs been kind to the finances. All in all, the report was one of continuing excellence in the face of considerable obstacles (which makes the excellence all the more remarkable).

What the School and Family Centre most badly needs at present are volunteers and sponsorships for free school meals and services’ costs. “Even though we are an outstanding setting,” Suzanne Taylor said, “achieve impressive outcomes for the children and are highly effective in all we do, we are still facing significant, and increasing financial challenges. Quality is no protection for us. In view of these challenges we are very grateful for any support or help during these challenging times.”

How you can help

If you would like to find out about volunteering at the school or sponsoring free school lunches, please contact office@hungerfordnursery.w-berks.sch.uk or call 01488 682628.

Financial contributions are gratefully received by SHOAL Friends of Hungerford Nursery School for the following projects:

 

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