PARENTS from St Michael’s Pre-School in Lyme Regis were called to a meeting yesterday and told the educational facility will close down next week.
The pre-school, run in affiliation with St Michael’s Primary School in King’s Way, will close on Tuesday, July 23, leaving Lyme Regis without an early years educational facility.
Parents were told the pre-school had been running at a deficit since it first opened and the total income received from fees, grants and fundraising had not been enough to cover even the basic cost of staffing.
The predicted deficit for the current year was £20,000, which was an increase on last year and this was expected to continue to rise if the pre-school remained open.
A letter from school headteacher Nick Kiddle and chairman of the governors, Michaela Ellis, said it was with “great sadness and deep regret” that the difficult decision had been made to close, but the pre-school had become “unviable” and there was no other choice.
The letter stated: “Added to a falling school budget, and cuts made across the whole school, a substantial rolling pre-school deficit is too heavy a burden to maintain.
“Even an increase in fees for all those parents already paying would not make it possible to sustain the current provision.
“Unfortunately, this reflects a national problem: early years funding and provision is a national concern.”
The letter added that pre-school staff had “worked tirelessly” to promote the pre-school and increase the number of children attending, but they were unable to shrink the deficit.
The school governors have been in contact with Dorset Council and the local Family Partnership Zone team to seek help, support and guidance for all families affected by the closure.
The letter concluded: “Over the years we have been fortunate enough to work with so many supportive parents and families: we are grateful for all your encouragement and help. Thank you.
“We would also like to thank Caroline, Kathy and Amanda [pre-school staff] for all their hard work and their dedicated attention to every child in their care. Their development of provision for early years learning has been inspirational. Thank you to them.”
Disappointed parents and family members of the 20-plus children that attended the pre-school have taken to social media this week to express their concern, including that their children will not be prepared to attend primary school without a pre-school facility.
Several have expressed disappointment that they were not given more than a week’s notice of the closure, and have called on both Dorset Council and Lyme Regis Town Council to provide additional funding for the facility.
Dorset Council confirmed that the pre-school was a governor-managed pre-school, meaning it was managed by St Michael’s Primary School.
A statement said: “Dorset Council was not involved in the decision to close the preschool. Any decision to close would have come from the school.
“The Family Information Service (FIS), run by Dorset Council, offers a brokerage service for parents to help them find alternative childcare provision.”
Uplyme currently has a pre-school based at the village hall and Charmouth Primary School is in the process of setting up a nursery, which will be run alongside its reception class.