House of Lords
Baroness Hughes of Stretford (Labour)
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether a maintained nursery school can become an academy.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to enable maintained nursery schools to become academies.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have received any requests from any maintained nursery schools to become academies; and what would be their response.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether a maintained nursery school with at least five children of statutory school age and on roll would be eligible to apply to become an academy.
Lord Hill of Oareford (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Education; Conservative)
Under current legislation, maintained nursery schools are not permitted to become academies. Academies are independent schools and are defined by Section 463 of the Education Act 1996 as schools that must provide full-time education for five or more pupils of compulsory school age.
If a maintained nursery school had five or more pupils of compulsory school age, then it would technically meet the definition above. However, as a maintained nursery school could not guarantee, on a continuing basis, that it would have pupils of compulsory school age in attendance, we do not consider that this meets the requirements of the legislation.
The department has received two requests regarding maintained nursery schools becoming academies. Officials have informed them that maintained nursery schools cannot become academies at this time.
While we do not consider that a compelling case for permitting maintained nursery schools to become academies has been made, we continue to be keen to work with maintained nursery schools and Sure Start children's centres to explore new forms of governance which give parents and staff more of a say in how those organisations are run and will consider further representations on the issue.