Saturday, 13 August 2022

Pre-school under threat of closure after numbers fall

BENSON Community Pre-School could close in the summer because of a lack of children signed up to start in September

BENSON Community Pre-School could close in the summer because of a lack of children signed up to start in September.

Parents and carers have been sent a letter outlining the difficulties faced by the pre-school, which is based at the youth hall in Oxford Road.

Chairwoman Carol Stratford says: ?As many of you will have noticed, the number of children attending our pre-school has been exceptionally low since September and as a result the pre-school has made significant financial losses during the last two years.

?Based on the children currently registered with the pre-school, there are only three that are anticipated to remain in September when the next intake transfers to school.

?Despite the best efforts of both the staff and committee over the last six months, we have been unable to attract significant numbers of additional children and it is likely that the pre-school will become unsustainable from September. Please be reassured that the pre-school will remain open for the remainder of this academic year.?

Jemma Carman, whose daughter Lexi-Faye, three, attends the pre-school, said parents wanted to save it. ?It would a massive shame to lose it,? she said.

Mrs Carman, 32, from Wallingford, had planned to send her other daughter Kiki-J, who is five months old, to the pre-school.

She attended a meeting at Benson parish hall last month where parents were told the pre-school was struggling. Mrs Carman said: ?The parents were asking questions like ?how many students do you need to be registered for it to work and for it to go forward?? and they were really vague with numbers. They must have known last year what the numbers were and what the forecast would be.

?All the parents went away thinking ?do they want to save it?? If they do, the parents want to help.

?I like the staff, I like the youth hall and I like that it?s in Benson. Lexi-Faye immediately settled and has excelled so much. She just loves it there ? she?d go every day if she could.? Mrs Stratford says that Benson Primary School is proposing to lower its age of intake and open a new nursery class from September to ensure there is still ?high quality? community-based provision for  pre-school children. She says: ?It is hoped by moving the three- to five-year-olds? provision into the school, the nursery class can benefit from the facilities already provided by the school and in turn will be able to attract a greater number of children.

?The school will be able to provide the following that the pre-school is simply unable to do: a designated classroom providing a stimulating and appropriate environment for early years children that doesn?t require packing away each day; purpose-built outdoor facilities; Forest School; access to the wider facilities of the school; and management that is not reliant on volunteers.?

A spokeswoman for the pre-school committee said no decision had been taken about its future.

She added: ?We continue to welcome enquiries from new families. However, in order to remain open, we require a significant increase in children and a new committee.?

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