Worcester needs more specialist nurseries for children with special educational needs (SEN), according to nursery nurses.

Staff at Wishing Well Nursery in Rainbow Hill said the number of children with SEN is increasing every year.

But giving those children the education they deserve is getting harder, they say, because of a lack of both specialist places and support for the nurseries that do take on SEN children.

Owner Jennifer Jenkins said the increase in numbers “could be for any number of reasons”.

“People are struggling,” she said.

“As a city centre nursery we’ve certainly seen the impact, especially since the closure of the nursery at Fort Royal.

“We don’t discriminate - we take all children, as long as we feel we can meet their needs. But not every nursery is able to do that.

“And we do our best for the children, but we’re nursery nurses - we’re not trained in SEN and we’re learning on a daily basis.

“There’s also a staffing crisis in nurseries - the pressures are huge and people can only take so much of doing it for not much more than minimum wage.”

Dawn Morris, SENDCO at the nursery, said she has to create more education, health and care (EHC) plans, which identify the extra help or support a child needs, than ever before.

“But the process takes months,” she said, “and often by the time a child goes to school, there’s nothing to send with them so the school has to start from scratch again.”

“And there’s a knock-on effect,” said general manager Mary Felici, “we have 10 children here who should be accessing Fort Royal when they leave, but the reality is that six of them will probably go to mainstream schools.”

Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet is set to approve plans for a new special school in Malvern next week.

But Wishing Well staff say that would still leave the problem of having a shortage of places for two to four-year-olds.

Previously, governors at Fort Royal said the lack of SEND places could have “dire consequences” for vulnerable children.

Cllr Tracey Onslow, the county council’s cabinet member for education, said the council is working with schools to increase pupil numbers and lobbying the government for more funding.