Clitheroe school's nursery class could be scrapped after consultation
A nursery class at a primary school in Clitheroe could be closed over concerns that low pupil numbers have made it financially unviable.
Just three applications were received this year for places for three-year-olds at Edisford Primary School.
At the request of the school’s headteacher and governors, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet has agreed to launch a formal consultation into the future of the maintained nursery facility at the Edisford Road site.
Depending on the outcome of that process - which will run from 13th November until 25th December - the class could stop operating from April 2022, leaving the school serving four to 11-year-olds only.
Cabinet member for education and skills Jayne Rear said that the authority considered that there were “enough good quality nursery places in Clitheroe to mitigate the loss of [nursery] provision at Edisford”.
A report presented to a meeting of the cabinet noted that the nursery facility is “having a significant impact on the school budget” and its closure would improve the “overall financial position” of the establishment.
The document added: “There has been a drop in the...birth rate in this area, leading to a significant number of surplus nursery places.
“Prior to seeking a decision to close the nursery, the governors undertook an informal consultation with parents on how the school could increase the uptake in places. Feedback from parents indicated that they felt limited by the 9.00am to 3.00pm offer, [which] was only available during term time.”
The school's governors have also explored the possibility of leasing their nursery space to a private provider, which would help reduce what cabinet members were told is a “sizeable budget deficit”. If progressed, that move would ultimately require approval from the county council.
The authority has this year carried out a consultation into its 24 standalone maintained nursery facilities, which a meeting of the children’s services and education scrutiny committee last month heard could lead to “difficult questions” being asked about the futures of “one or two" of them in the coming months.