Parents’ fears as Eastbourne nursery set to close

An Eastbourne nursery will close at the end of next month – much to parents’ dismay.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 6:58 pm

Eastbourne Montessori School, in Willingdon Road, was informed its contract to educate children between the ages of two and six had not been extended back in April.

Parents of children at the school now say they are having difficulty finding a suitable place for their youngsters to continue their education.

Parents Clare and Bradley Tester-Spratt said, “There is a high possibility that if Eastbourne Montessori School closes, I will not be able to find the appropriate childcare for my child so I can go to work at such short notice.

Lucy Forrester and Sofia Mattlock with children at the Eastbourne Montessori School at The Hub on the Hill. (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-210615-164912001
Lucy Forrester and Sofia Mattlock with children at the Eastbourne Montessori School at The Hub on the Hill. (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-210615-164912001

“I have already enquired at two nurseries and as my son is not three until October, most nurseries will not have him at lunchtime.

“This means I will have to ask my employer to either take unpaid leave until January 2022 or leave my job as it will affect the vulnerable young people I work with.

“This will also affect my family financially and my mental wellbeing as I have worked hard to have a career that brings my life meaning.

“Also, there are not many childminders available at such short notice. I searched for three months prior to him being able to start nursery.”

A spokesperson from a group of Eastbourne Montessori School parents said they are appealing to people who may own or know of a privately rented facility that has a safe outside space, room, toilet, and kitchen facilities that they might be able to use.

Parents Rachel O’Neill and Giles James said, “We are extremely concerned at the very real prospect of the closure of EMS and the impacts that this will have not only upon our own two children, but all the children who attend or were planning to join, as well as parents’ ability to work as key workers and the impacts upon the community at large.

“Our youngest son, like many young children has been severely impacted by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, emotionally, socially, and developmentally.

“Having just recently started at EMS he has settled in well and come to thrive in this unique and special environment.

“We are incredibly worried at the possibility of another sudden disruption to his education and our childcare arrangements, particularly as we can see that with every session he attends at EMS the damage done by the pandemic is quickly being repaired.”

Due to the closure some parents are considering leaving their jobs or taking up to four months’ unpaid leave, according to a spokesperson from the group of parents.

Parent Gemma Aellah said, “Since learning of the closure, I have tried to find alternative childcare but have found it impossible to find a childminder or a new nursery with availability for this transition period.

“Furthermore, even if I do eventually find a solution, it will be very upsetting and disruptive for my child to have to attend a new setting immediately before starting school, which itself will be a big change for her.

“My annual leave has already been allocated and I do not have any remaining to use to cover this period.

“I now am faced with talking to my employers about taking unpaid leave.”

The spokesperson from the group of parents said, “Early years education is vital for the future of our children and our community.

“We were made aware of the contract ending at the end of April, but suitable spaces are very limited especially at such short notice.

“There are currently four children who have had to have their school entry deferred because they are not ready.

“Due to Covid restrictions, they missed out a lot with their social development.

“This will now mean further disruption to their education as they will not be able to attend an educational setting until September 2022.”

The group of parents also praised the work of Lucy Forrester, a qualified Montessori practitioner from the school, and fear the impact of losing her.

Miss Forrester, who runs the school, said, “Having moved here 14 years ago and achieved my ambition to open an accredited Montessori school, I am determined to continue my search for a new home for the school.

“Being a passionate advocate of Montessori education, I know that it gives children the best possible start on their educational journey, preparing them with life skills.

“It has been wonderful to see the children in our care thrive and once we have found somewhere we will welcome more to join us.”