Brighton nursery to close despite parents’ campaign

A school’s nursery class will close despite protests from parents.

Hertford Infant and Nursery School’s head teacher and governing body proposed the nursery class from September because of low numbers.

The proposal was formally approved yesterday (Monday 11 January) by Brighton and Hove City Council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee.

The lack of nursery-age pupils led to the school going £40,000 over budget in the past school year and more than £99,000 over budget in 2018-19.

After a four-week public consultation, parents sent six emails objecting to the closure and 270 people signed a petition on the 38 Degrees website opposing the move.

Parents put their case to keep the nursery open at a virtual meeting of the Children, Young People and Skills Committee yesterday.

One mother, Gracie Lain, said that the nursery was an “integral part” of their children’s education.

She said: “It means local kids can attend the same site when they start their nursery education at three. It aids their transfer from nursery to junior school.

“Transition becomes easier as friendships span through the nursery setting over into the infants.”

She said that many parents took up the option of 15 hours of free nursery places without paying the top up fee required at some private settings.

Another mother, Gemma Austen, said that it was the wrong time to make such a decision because numbers were low in response to the coronavirus pandemic and were normally lower in the autumn.

She said: “I know of tons of families with children in reception and year one who are planning on sending their two and three-year-olds, as am I.”

Childcare strategy manager Vicky Jenkins said that it was “useful” to hear parents’ thoughts.

She said that free places were available at the council-run Cherry Tree Nursery in nearby Brentford Road.

Green councillor Sarah Nield that said children received excellent teaching and care at the nursery.

She said: “Listening to the petitioners it does sound like a brilliant nursery. I appreciate the point they made that free places are free and I am pleased they can get a free place near by.

“It is really hard when the closure is requested by the school themselves.”

Green councillor Hannah Clare, who chairs the committee, said: “It’s a position no one wants to be in – and I am sure for the school themselves having to make this decision.

“But sadly, when the provision isn’t sustainable, it makes it very difficult to keep going.”

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