Nurs­ery school for vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren faces clo­sure

Midweek Visiter - - Front Page - BY KATE LALLY kate.lally@trin­i­tymir­ @kate­lal­lyx

ACASH cri­sis sweep­ing Mersey­side’s ed­u­ca­tion pro­vi­sion means a school at­tended by some of the re­gion’s most vul­ner­a­ble pupils is to close at the end of the aca­demic year.

A statu­tory no­tice for the clo­sure of Sand Dunes Nurs­ery School, in Seaforth, is cur­rently be­ing pub­lished by Sefton Coun­cil.

Sand Dunes is said to be at­tended by “some of the most vul­ner­a­ble” chil­dren in the re­gion.

The school, which was es­tab­lished in the 1940s, cur­rently looks af­ter around 70 pupils, aged two-five.

The ma­jor­ity of chil­dren who at­tend are vul­ner­a­ble and have ex­ter­nal in­volve­ment ei­ther from So­cial Care or SENIS (Sefton coun­cil’s team to sup­port chil­dren with spe­cial ed­u­ca­tional needs).

Sefton Coun­cil and the school ex­plored ev­ery avail­able op­tion be­fore Sand Dunes for­mally pro­posed the clo­sure.

A pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion, which was orig­i­nally planned for eight weeks, was ex­tended to a pe­riod of nine weeks to al­low enough time for peo­ple to sub­mit their com­ments and ran from July to Oc­to­ber.

Meet­ings were also held with staff, gover­nors, and par­ents/car­ers of pupils at the school.

A re­cent meet­ing of Sefton Coun­cil’s cab­i­net con­sid­ered a re­port on the out­come of the con­sul­ta­tion process. There was a huge amount of sup­port for Sand Dunes, but no vi­able op­tions to ad­dress the fi­nan­cial short­fall.

Cab­i­net mem­bers say they will con­tinue ex­plor­ing al­ter­na­tives with the school and to re­port on this and any rep­re­sen­ta­tions re­ceived to the clo­sure no­tice in the New Year.

Sefton Coun­cil’s cab­i­net mem­ber for chil­dren, schools and safe­guard­ing, Cllr John Joseph Kelly, said: “Sand Dunes Nurs­ery has been a cru­cial part of the com­mu­nity for many years.

“This has been demon­strated with an on­line pe­ti­tion which has had more than 900 sig­na­tures.

“I un­der­stand that this is a dif­fi­cult time for all those in­volved and want to thank ev­ery­one who took the time to tell us how they felt through the con­sul­ta­tion.

“It is ex­tremely re­gret­table that the gover­nors at Sand Dunes Nurs­ery school have had no al­ter­na­tive but to re­quest a for­mal con­sul­ta­tion to close, be­cause it is no longer fi­nan­cially vi­able.”

Ear­lier this year, schools across the bor­ough sent let­ters to par­ents, im­plor­ing them to write to Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May ask­ing her to stop cut­ting ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing.

Axe poised – Sand Dunes nurs­ery, Seaforth

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