Consultation to begin on closure of nursery

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COUNCILLORS have given the go-ahead to hold consultations on plans to close a Sheffield nursery school.

Proposals to merge Birley Community Nursery with its neighbouring primary were discussed by the Cabinet.

A review of Sheffield’s three council-run nursery schools was set up following the introduction of new national funding rules which will plunge them into the red.

Previously, nursery schools received extra funding which enabled them to stand alone as a school and have their own headteacher.

Under the new formula, their income has been reduced and they cannot meet their current costs.

The two other nurseries affected are Broomhall and Grace Owen at Park Hill.

A working group, including governors, was set up for each of the nursery schools to find the best way forward.

The proposal for Birley would see a sustainable future for the nursery places and have the advantage of close links with the primary school.

The plans would see a dedicated early years facility operating inside Birley Primary, and are part of a broader review of the city’s early years provision.

Parents and carers and other nursery users will be consulted before any final decision is made.

A review of the consultation process will be brought back for discussion at the city’s Cabinet later in the year.

Coun Jackie Drayton, Cabinet member for children, said: “It is crucial to get education right, right from the beginning of life, which is why we have set up a review of all early years services, including nursery school provision.

“We want to make sure the children in Birley are getting the best possible standard of education which is why these plans are crucial.

“The reduced funding from central government means that if we don’t take action now there is a danger that the nursery will have to close in years to come.

This would leave Birley children with no early years provision and this is not acceptable at all.

“Although the quality of provision in the existing nursery school is excellent, the merger is the best option to ensure high quality early years provision can continue on the Birley campus.

“The close links with the reception class will also build on the existing good practice for children moving up from nursery to school in years to come.”

The merger would also mean that the federation running Birley College and Birley Primary would able to offer continuous education to children from the age of three to 16.

A final decision on the closure of the community nursery is not expected to be implemented until April next year.