County Hall bosses are pulling the plug on free childcare at a popular nursery after it was branded inadequate by government watchdogs.
Owners of The Nursery in Leyland’s Wade Hall say they may now be forced to close, leaving the families of 57 youngsters searching for new places.
The day care facility was deemed inadequate in all four areas following an inspection by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted).
The inspector slammed the effectiveness of the leadership and management, quality of teaching,learning and assessment, development, behaviour and welfare of the children as well as the outcomes of the young charges.
Although nursery bosses are appealing against the findings, County Hall bosses said funding for two to four year olds who qualify for free nursery places will cease this week, despite a pending appeal.
Angry parents started a petition and are calling on Chorley and South Ribble’s MPs, as well as local councillors to help keep the facility open.
The owner, who did not want to be named until her appeal, said many of the families who used the facility, which is housed in Wade Hall Children’s Centre, received free child care.
Without their funding she will be forced to close, after nine years in the town.
She added that she had 30 years’ child care experience and had worked with the Children’s Centre and LCC to provide a much needed service in an area of deprivation.
She said: “This is not about me but about the staff and the parents. They are an inspiration.”
Local businesswoman Sophie Wilding, who’s two year old attends the nursery is spokeswoman for the parents group.
She said: “Parents are very upset and worried. I pay for my childcare and chose to send my daughter there because of the reputation. We don’t recognise the nursery in that report.
“People are very concerned about what will happen if it closes. A lot of the children have complex needs or learning difficulties and the staff there are wonderful and work alongside the Children’s Centre.
It will have a massive impact on the community if they close that nursery.
“It has a good reputation parents know each other as do the children, both inside and out of nursery.
On top of that staff will lose their jobs. These are local people.
“The Ofsted was Good last time and while we accept the paperwork or monitoring may not have been up to scratch for parents it is about being comfortable leaving your children there, especially those with special needs.
This has come as a shock.”
Jonathan Hewitt, head of the county’s school improvement service, said: “We understand the impact on parents of the The Nursery’s owners’ decision to close, however the rules agreed by the Lancashire Schools’ Forum are very clear, and mean that funding is automatically withdrawn when a provider is judged to be inadequate.
“In the wake of the decision to close, we have worked very hard to ensure that local people are aware of the childcare options available to them.
“We have identified more than 90 available places at nurseries within two miles of the Wade Hall Children’s Centre. We have given information to all affected parents, as well as providing additional staff at the centre to provide face-to-face support, information and advice. Staff at the centre are helping parents to access alternative free early education funded care, and the county council’s family information service is providing information on alternative nursery or childminder places.”
A spokesman for Ofsted said: “We can confirm that we have received a complaint from the nursery. While we do not comment on complaints received, we take all complaints very seriously and deal with them as quickly as possible as set out in our published guidance.”