STOURBRIDGE MP Suzanne Webb visited St Michael's Christian Pre-school in Norton to discuss the challenges the sector is facing around funding.

The Conservative MP met with manager Sally Collins, her deputy Claire Powers, Peter Barber - the chair of the management committee, and Rev Jonathan Evans.

The group shared their concerns about early years funding and the important job pre-schooling has at the start of a child's education.

Suzanne also toured the pre-school in Maynard Avenue that is rated excellent by Ofsted.

She described the facility as "great" with a "wonderful atmosphere" and said: “The cost of living is putting many businesses and organisations under pressure and I heard loud and clear from St Michael’s what those challenges were.

“The government has recently increased the national average hourly funding rate for two-year-olds to £8 from this September. It will rise to £5.50 for three-to-four-year-olds.

“In addition, when the 15 hours for children aged nine months and above is launched in September 2024, the hourly funding is expected to be around £11.

“The children’s minister has said more funding for the sector is earmarked as the government expands free childcare hours and entitlement over the next few years.

“However, it is important I listen and understand what my local providers think about the changes and the rate increases and whether they will be enough. I will be feeding these back to the relevant ministers who need to know what brilliant early years providers like St Michael’s think.”

Manager Sally Collins thanked the MP for listening to concerns and said : “We were pleased to achieve an outstanding Ofsted result for the second time.

"The inspector praised St Michaels church-run pre-school for its inspirational learning environment where parents express a high level of contentment with the care their children receive and the involvement of them as a whole family unit.”