HC Deb 05 March 1981 vol 1000 cc191-2W
Mr. D. E. Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has any evidence of local education authorities closing nursery schools and replacing them with nursery classes in primary schools; and if so, what is the effect on overall numbers of nursery schools available and the use of qualified nursery staff.

Dr. Boyson

Prior to the 1980 Education Act local education authorities were not required to give formal notice of proposals to close nursery schools. Between January 1979 and January 1980, the latest date for which figures are available, the number of nursery schools in England increased by three to 596. In the same period the number of nursery classes increased from 3,796 to 4,027.

Since 5 May 1980 local education authorities have been required, under section 12 of the 1980 Act, to publish any proposals for the closure of nursery schools and to copy their proposals to the Secretary of State. There have to date been four closure proposals, all of which have been approved. In three cases the nursery schools are being replaced by new nursery classes housed in surplus primary school accommodation and the staff, except for the head teachers who have either resigned or retired, transferred to the nursery classes. In the remaining case the children have been absorbed into existing nursery classes. This closure coincided with the retirement of the head teacher, and the nursery staff were redeployed.