Nursery merger set for approval

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PLANS to merge a Sheffield nursery with the primary school next door are set to be given the go- ahead by councillors.

The proposals will see Birley Community Nursery amalgamate with Birley Primary next April.

Birley is one of only three council-run stand alone nurseries in the city and the future of the other two, Grace Owen at Park Hill and Broomhall, is also under review.

National changes to early years learning funding have made independent centres unaffordable.

Consultations on the Birley plans with parents, staff, governors and community leaders began earlier this year.

Cabinet member for children, young people and families Coun Jackie Drayton said: “We are currently reviewing the whole way we deliver early years services across the city to make sure we are delivering the right model in the most efficient way.

“Amalgamating the nursery into the primary school at Birley means we can still keep the nursery provision, which parents told us was really important to them in our review.

“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 new funding system has taken away from independent nursery schools extra funding which allowed them to stand alone and have their own headteacher.

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

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

The Birley plans will go before the Cabinet next Wednesday.