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'Devastated' Montessori nursery closes after lack of funding

03-Jan-18
Article By: Melissa McAlees

Parents of children attending a Hertfordshire nursery have been left ‘truly heartbroken’ after the setting was forced to close its doors for the final time just days before Christmas.

Credit: Swirk/Shutterstock.com

Bishops Stortford Montessori Nursery provided the only Montessori education in the area since 2007, but after ‘struggling financially for some time’, Principal Louise Bailes made the difficult decision to permanently close the nursery on 13 December last year.

Lorna Walters Cannon, deputy manager at Bishop's Stortford Montessori Nursery, said: “We are devastated to report that the nursery has closed its doors for the final time. It was heartbreaking to have to inform the parents and our wonderful team of staff.

"We have to accept that the nursery is no longer viable, and the company will now be dissolved.”

’We have fought against the many odds stacked against us’

Ongoing issues with late payments, steadily decreasing child numbers and ‘incredibly low’ funding rates from Essex Council have been contributing factors to the closure of the nursery.

Rated ‘good’ by Ofsted in April 2016, the ‘well-led’ and ‘stimulating’ setting provided 24 places for children aged between two-and four-years-old and employed six members of childcare staff.

Sharing her disappointment on Facebook, Ms Walters Cannon wrote: “Since 2011, we have fought against the many odds stacked against us which have made running a nursery so difficult. The government push to get children earlier and earlier into mainstream schools where they have the facilities to provide wrap-around care. We can no longer compete financially. Our funding rate is very low and over the past year this has led to losses of circa £70,000 per annum to the business.”

Facebook users have also shared their concerns for the future of the sector on the Champagne Nurseries - Lemonade Funding page. One said: “So sorry to hear this, it's such a worrying time for us all. I've been running my pre-school for 20 years and never had such anxiety as I have had this year. Shame on the government for not listening to the people this is affecting.”

Another user posted: “Once they have gone, they have gone. The buildings, the equipment but most importantly fabulously dedicated, well-trained experienced staff with a passion for working with children at one of the most crucial stages of their lives.”

’To say we are heartbroken is an understatement’

Wishing families well in making alternative childcare arrangements, Ms Walters Cannon said: “Understandably this is a huge blow for parents and staff. To say we are heartbroken is an understatement.

“We are so proud of the fantastic and dedicated staff, and we have constantly strived to give children the best possible start to their education through a rich curriculum, superb teaching and an emphasis on supporting the varying needs of the wonderful families who have entrusted their children into our care.

“We are so very sorry the nursery has come to such a shocking and abrupt end, we never thought it would come to this, but these are circumstances which are completely out of our control. We will miss everyone terribly.”

The nursery was rated Good in its last inspection by Ofsted in 2016.

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