'˜Huge loss to community' as Eastbourne pre-school is forced to close

An Eastbourne pre-school has been forced to close after 40 years.

Monday, 22nd May 2017, 12:22 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:28 pm
Devastating: Rising Stars in Seaside has been looking after children for 40 years

The senior manager at Rising Stars, in St Andrew’s Church, Seaside, says the difficult decision had to be made because of a lack of funding from East Sussex County Council.

Kate Peach said, “It’s no longer possible to carry on. It’s really sad, but we could not provide good quality care with the funding we were receiving. It’s impossible.

“The team work really hard, we got a ‘Good’ in our last Ofsted. Now we have to make staff redundant.”

The pre-school, which looks after 36 children and has three members of staff, has announced it will close after July.

Mrs Peach said, “It’s a huge loss to the community. It will have a direct impact on St Andrew’s Church, which we pay rent.”

She believes this is an example of the wider problems pre-schools are facing across the country.

She said, “Figures of pre-schools closing is frightening. It’s absolutely devastating. As child care starts to disappear parents won’t be able to return to work.

“The county council is increasing the workload and making it very difficult for staff to deliver quality child care – and paying them a very low rate. It’s disrespectful to our industry.”

The pre-school has particularly been struggling, Mrs Peach continued, due to the Government’s 15 hours of free childcare policy, which local authorities subsidise.

She said the amount provided by East Sussex County Council simply is not enough to cover costs.

Chair of the school committee, Carly Hobden, said, “The committee has liaised with the local authority who are not able to support us any further by increasing funding or making changes to the workload they give us.”

An East Sussex County Council spokesperson said, “The level of funding for the 15 hours of free childcare parents are entitled to claim is laid down at a national level and allocated according to Government guidelines.

“In East Sussex, we are committed to the provision of good quality childcare for our families, and comply with our statutory duties to ensure there are enough places for children in the county.

“We provide support and guidance to early years providers on both the quality of their work with children and financial and business matters and would encourage the management committee at Rising Stars to contact us directly so we can discuss the issues they’re facing.”