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Rhondda Cynon Taf Nursery Provision

At their meeting today, the Council’s Cabinet have agreed proposals to reduce the funding made available for nursery provision whilst at the same time rejecting plans to stop funding free school meals for eligible pupils. 

Council Leader, County Borough Councillor Andrew Morgan, said: “Following an extensive consultation process Cabinet today took the difficult decision to amend funding arrangements for nursery education. 

“The responses received via the consultation raising concerns about the removal of funding for free school meals led Cabinet to make amendments to the original proposal to ensure those pupils eligible will continue to receive free school meals. 

“Constructive discussions have been ongoing with schools and childcare providers during the consultation process regarding the proposed amendment to funding arrangements and with an implementation date for the changes of September 2015, Council officers will continue to work with childcare providers and schools to manage the impact of these changes. 

“The difficult decision we have taken today will contribute over £2million in savings as we strive to close the initial budget gap faced of £30million. 

"We made clear at today's meeting that if it were not for the harsh financial realities we face we would not be considering this option." 

County Borough Councillor Eudine Hanagan, Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “In making our decision today to reduce funding for nursery provision we have taken into account feedback from the consultation to ensure funding for free school meals is retained and free Home to School transport for those children eligible where schools maintain full time or where there are plans for wrap around provision in accordance with the Council's current policy. 

“From September 1, schools will receive funding for part time provision of 15 hours from the term after a child’s third birthday. Despite the reluctance of Cabinet to make this change it must be remembered that even after these amendments our level of provision continues to compare favourably with other local authorities with similar demographics to us.

"Furthermore Cabinet determined that this decision will ensure sufficient nursery education provision for the children of Rhondda Cynon Taf."

Some of recommendations moved at meeting: 

•     That the proposed funding arrangement for the provision of Nursery Education for Rhondda Cynon Taf should be based on:- §     Part time (half day) (15 hours per week) provision from the term after a child’s 3rd Birthday (pre-nursery and nursery); §     Full time (30 hours per week) provision from the term after a child’s 4th Birthday (nursery and reception) §     Funding up to 15 hours per week (subject to capacity) of nursery provision in private, voluntary or independent registered education providers from the term following the child’s third Birthday where there is no suitable availability within a school §     That children already in receipt of full time nursery provision (during the 2014-2015 academic year) would continue to be funded for full time provision i.e. they would not be affected by implementation of the proposal the service change.

•     That the provision of funding for Free School Meals is to continue for those children eligible and in receipt of either both part time and or full time nursery provision.

•     That the provision of Home to School Transport continues in line with the Council’s current policy and in accordance with that policy, transport would only be arranged to coincide with the start and end of the normal school day and not at lunchtimes. 

•     That the implementation of the decision taken in respect of the proposal takes effect from 1st September, 2015.