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Nursery under threat as pupil numbers fall
11:50am Saturday 9th March 2013 in News
THE future of the nursery at a Worcester school is under threat as changes in government funding and dwindling pupil numbers take their toll.
A public consultation is being held over options for Red Hill CE Primary School’s nursery unit. Parent Emma Duell, of Chase End Close, had hoped to send her two-year-old son Ned to the nursery in September.
“I had hoped to be able to send my youngest son to the nursery in 2013 as my older son thrived there and it aided a seamless transition into the reception class upwards.
“I’m very conscious of the school’s position and I don’t want to be critical of that, but I want people to know this facility was there and there’s the possibility that we might lose it forever.”
The nursery was funded by the number of places it offered up until 2010 when the Government imposed new rules allocating funding by the number of pupils on its roll. Between 2007 and 2009, pupil numbers ranged bet-ween nine and 15, peaking at 28 in 2011, but dropping to 14 last year. The nursery needs 21 pupils to break even.
Spencer Morris, the headteacher at Red Hill, said: “The governors have been thinking about the future of the nursery. The staff there are fantastic and the kids love it. This is all to do with government funding.
“There are a number of reasons numbers have fallen. A lot of parents have asked for all-day care, whereas we only run a morning nursery. The governors may look into that if they feel that’s an option.
“As a working dad myself, I understand that it’s really difficult for working parents to drop their child off at 9am and have to pick them up again at noon. The nursery opened with the school and it was felt at that point to run a morning-only nursery.
“The governors are taking these comments on board.”
The document says that in 2010 and 2011, about half of the number of children that attended the nursery went on to Red Hill’s reception class.
It says places are available at nearby private and school-based nurseries.
Val Houghton, the school organisation advisor for the Diocese of Worcester, said: “After the informal consultation stage, we will then look at guiding the governing body as needs be.
“We’re not actually giving any recommendation at this point in time. We’re listening to what people are saying.”
Comments on the proposal must be submitted by Friday, April 12.
The consultation document and feedback form are available in the letters section from redhillprimary.org.