Welcome Nurseries, at Lundwood’s Priory Campus, opened in December having taken over from charity Barnardo’s - which had run the centre since 1995.
After Barnardo’s announced they couldn’t afford to keep it going in April last year, parents and staff at what was previously Priory Family Centre Nursery rallied around to ensure the nursery could stay open, forming a campaign group to voice their opposition and stress its importance.
The new owner’s arrival - which came about as a result of the parents’ campaign being seen in the Chronicle - came with a promise of significant investment and capacity more than doubling when the doors opened, from 36 children to 86.
Full day care - from 8am to 6pm - was offered with funded hours for eligible children.
However, just weeks after education watchdog Ofsted gave the setting a damning report in which leaders were told it requires improvement, its doors abruptly closed last Friday leaving parents and carers in limbo.
Parent Amy Richardson told the Chronicle: “We received an email informing us and despite attempting - on numerous occasions - to contact them this week, there’s been no reply.
“Many people pay up front, so I’m about £500 out of pocket currently.
“Parents actually helped save this facility from closing not so long ago so to be treated in this way is just not fair - there’s been no warning or explanation.”
Ofsted inspectors said the provision was affected by staffing issues, which mean ‘there are sometimes not enough staff working directly with the younger children’ and knock-on effects on children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
“When there are not enough staff working directly with younger children, staff are unable to implement their curriculum effectively,” the report added.
“Therefore, while children enjoy playing with the activities set out, quality interactions and communication with the children reduce.
“Staff are aware of children’s individual needs but this does not help to close the gaps identified in children’s learning quickly enough.”
Welcome Nurseries - which run dozens of sites across the country - confirmed in a statement that the Priory Campus site has closed but urged parents to register at one of its other sites.
“We are currently undergoing a restructure and unfortunately, we will not be able to move forward with the Priory Campus nursery,” it added.
“Unfortunately, the nursery at Priory Campus will be permanently closed.
“We understand that this will come as a shock, and we apologise for the short notice and any frustration or inconvenience caused.”