Devastating blow for parents and children as pre-school near Buckingham and Milton Keynes closes for good

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Village pre-school ‘fearful it will impact on school numbers’

A village pre-school has made the heartbreaking decision to close for good, following a devastating Ofsted report.

Thornborough & Nash Pre-school closed at the end of term on Wednesday, July 19, and will not reopen its doors in September.

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Following an Ofsted visit in April, the inspector’s report, published in June, rated the pre-school as Inadequate in all areas. The village setting, a charity run by a committee, had previously been rated Good.

Snack time at Thornborough & Nash Pre-schoolSnack time at Thornborough & Nash Pre-school
Snack time at Thornborough & Nash Pre-school

Despite huge support from local parents, the committee felt they had no choice but to close down, as they would no longer receive government funding for free childcare provision – administered by Bucks Council Early Years - and the pre-school’s constitution meant committee members would be personally liable for any financial loss.

Committee member Alice Woodyard, whose four children have attended the pre-school, said: "Basically we received funding up until the end of this school term, but from September we’d have received nothing.

"Bucks Early Years pulled all support to us the minute our inspection was published – even though they had supported us after our inspection and they were working with us very closely up until our inspection.

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"They wiped their hands of us. They didn’t support us in any way, shape or form after our report was published.”

Artwork on display at Thornborough & Nash Pre-schoolArtwork on display at Thornborough & Nash Pre-school
Artwork on display at Thornborough & Nash Pre-school

A closing down sale is being held on Sunday, July 23, from 2pm to 4pm in the village cricket pavilion, where the pre-school was held.

Alice said: “It’s just desperately sad. The parents are devastated. The children have all had to be split and moved to loads of different places – it’s awful.

“And there is nowhere else to go. The closest place we’ve got is Padbury, which has a waiting list, and then it’s going into the bigger pre-schools in Buckingham.”

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She added: "It’s more than just a pre-school, it’s a meeting point for children and for mums. Our village would be just another soulless place without the pre-school and the infants school.

"It’s such an enormous resource and I don’t think these Ofsted inspectors realise the enormity of what they do. It’s devastating for us as a community.”

Thornborough Infant School’s interim co-head, Laura Passenger, said: “We are genuinely devastated that the pre-school has closed. It was a real asset to our village, with dedicated staff and genuinely happy children.

"We are fearful that it will impact on our school numbers, as a majority of our children move from the pre-school into our Reception class.”

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Anita Cranmer, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services, insists the council provided ‘substantial support over a long period of time’.

She said: “We are sorry to hear this pre-school has decided to close permanently. The council has provided substantial support to this setting over a long period of time, including prior to its Ofsted inspection. We were informed on 26 May of their decision to permanently close, before the Ofsted report was published. We were aware that this was a difficult decision made by the setting itself after a great deal of thought. At this point the council’s priority was to identify alternative provision for the children and families impacted by their closure decision. There is further work to be completed and the council is hopeful of securing provision closer to this local community for families in the future.

“Following the initial Ofsted finding, the council provided immediate support to help the pre-school with an improvement plan. If the pre-school had decided to stay open, funding would have remained in place until October by which time Ofsted should have re-inspected. Had the setting secured an improved Ofsted judgement no disruption to families or children would have taken place.”