Empty seats in Wisbech preschool

Clarkson School Nursery has lots of places empty for the start of term. 'Michelle Haworth (nursery teacher)
Clarkson School Nursery has lots of places empty for the start of term. 'Michelle Haworth (nursery teacher)
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A WISBECH school nursery has found itself in the unusual position of struggling to fill places and is faced with empty seats for the new intake.

Following last year’s introduction of 15 free hours a week for three and four-year-olds, more childcare providers are offering a preschool service and Clarkson Infants’ and Nursery School is feeling the effects.

Early Years Leader Sue Barnes said: “We’ve never had a problem filling spaces before. The children’s centres and nurseries offering funded places are the only thing I can think of that is causing this.”

Although around 20 of the 78 nursery places are empty at the moment – about 25 per cent – Mrs Barnes knows that come next September, the reception classes will be oversubscribed.

She said: “There are clearly parents who want their children to come here, so why aren’t they coming to the nursery? I know we can’t compete with the flexibility of a private nursery but we offer a lot. For example, Mrs Haworth is a qualified teacher who is very up-to-date on all the latest training.”

This year, there are several children starting school who attended preschool elsewhere who have found it harder to settle in as they are unfamiliar with the school.

“We really work closely as a team in Early Years and have a good handover,” Mrs Barnes said. “We know what children have been taught, who needs a bit more help. The nursery staff are just next door if a child needs a familiar face.”

Anyone who is interested in taking a nursery space at Clarkson should contact Mrs Barnes on 01945-584867.