Homeless pre-school latest to close

Nikita Ahmed, 26, with her children Kian and Bobby

Nikita Ahmed, 26, with her children Kian and Bobby Buy this photo

First published in News thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys. Call me on 01865 425403

A SECOND pre-school in Blackbird Leys is to shut after its attempts to find a new home failed.

Shepherds Hill will close in mid-July after being told in February by heads at Windale Primary School – where it meets – that it would have to vacate.

Heads said the Dunnock Way school needs the two rooms used by the pre-school group to accommodate growing pupil numbers.

Since then the pre-school management committee and councillors have tried to find it a new home.

But manager Sarah Pearson said: “We’ve not been able to find anywhere.

“We have tried so hard but we’ve just come up against so many brick walls.

“We’re running out of time – we’ve only got until July 11 and we’ve still not found anywhere.

“The committee have decided that we’re going to close down.”

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Staff and children at Shepherd's Hill pre-school

Shepherds Hill looks after 88 children aged two to three and pays £6,000 a year in rent to the school.

The school has a nursery and will expand from 50 children (25 per session) to 78 (39 per session) for each morning and afternoon session.

Ms Pearson said: “Most of the children are going into nursery because they’re now of nursery-school age, but the two-year-olds will have to be relocated.”

The school has said it had “no option” as its intake grew.

The estate’s other pre-school facility is the Co-Operative Childcare Blackbird Leys Nursery, in Cuddesdon Way.

Admissions for two-year-olds were stopped last year after concerns from Ofsted inspectors including children hitting each other.

But last week it was announced that the nursery had improved and could take those age groups again.

Little Doves pre-school shut in March because of staff shortages.

Val Smith, an Oxfordshire County Council member for Blackbird Leys, said: “We had looked at several sites, including the old Scout Hut on Sandy Lane and the Blackbird Leys Adventure Playground site, but none of those were suitable.

“The classes were too big and they needed too many resources for any of those sites to work.”

Nikita Ahmed’s youngest son Bobby, three, was due to start at Shepherds Hill in September and will now go to the school instead.

The Evenlode Tower resident, 26, said: “It’s a shame because my eldest Kian went there and he loved it.

“They couldn’t give all of the younger children spots at Windale, so the other children who didn’t get a space haven’t got anywhere it go.

“Blackbird Leys is a big estate and there’s now no other nursery bar the Co-Operative and they don’t take many funded kids.

“There’s nowhere for those two-year-olds to go.”

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