Fears have been raised for the future of several Barnet nursery schools as an education funding squeeze continues.

Moss Hall Nursery School and the Barnet Early Years Alliance federation – a group of three nursery schools – may not be able to balance their books “in the near future”, a council report says.

The schools have suggested “they will have to draw heavily on their balances over the coming year or two”, it adds.

Every primary and secondary school in the borough will see per-pupil funding rise by at least 1.84 per cent in 2020-21 after the Government announced a £2.6 billion increase in spending.

But the funding rise for nursery schools is smaller, and the council says it has been lobbying the Government to solve the problem at a national level.

At a meeting of the children’s, education and safeguarding committee on Monday (January 13), Cllr Pauline Coakley-Webb (Labour, Coppetts) warned nursery schools “are likely to go to the wall” if nothing changes.

She added: “If nothing happens at a government level, will this council be prepared to let these schools go to the wall?”

Committee chairman Cllr David Longstaff (Conservative, High Barnet) said: “We have written to the secretary of state for education; he has promised to do a review and make sure the funding is changed.

“There is no intention on this council to close nursery schools.”

Cllr Longstaff added that the review would come “very soon”, and councillors “threatening Armageddon” did not help the situation.

Ian Harrison, Barnet Council’s education and skills director, said early years providers would see a lower increase in per-pupil funding – 1.3 per cent – than primary and secondary schools.

He added the national funding formula applied to nursery schools does not account for the fact that they cost more to run.

The report also says there has been a growing number of council-run schools with deficit budgets, with some receiving less funding due to a falling intake of pupils.

Mr Harrison explained the council can help schools by agreeing “licensed deficits” for up to three years and drawing up a recovery plan to get them back on track.

Schools with a falling pupil intake have been encouraged to merge with other schools to stop them getting into financial difficulties.