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Norfolk pre-school warns it may face closure if new committee can’t be found

PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 February 2018 | UPDATED: 12:00 14 February 2018

Kenninghall Pre-School Nursery. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Kenninghall Pre-School Nursery. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A south Norfolk pre-school has warned it may face closure if a new committee can’t be found at a crunch meeting this month.

Elizabeth Truss on a visit to Kenninghall Pre-School Nursery. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYElizabeth Truss on a visit to Kenninghall Pre-School Nursery. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The five-strong committee at Kenninghall Pre-School Nursery will soon resign, and have told parents and carers a new committee must be found at a meeting later this month.

Heidi Glendenning, chairman of the committee, warned that if they failed to do so, the nursery, near Banham, would close with immediate effect.

The popular nursery, which had just over 20 children on its roll last October, is a registered charity, run by a committee which must legally be made up of 60pc parents.

With the current committee’s children moving onto primary school this year, it will leave the nursery without the required make-up, sparking a hunt to find replacements before it is too late.

“A lot of parents are unaware that the pre-school is committee led by a team of volunteers who are responsible for the overall management and smooth running of the setting,” Mrs Glendenning said. “This can mean anything from organising a fundraising event to negotiating a business lease.”

The demands of the role have seen pre-schools around the country struggle to attract parents willing to get involved.

MORE: ‘We have to stay open’ - £100,000 needed to save popular Kenninghall Pre-School Nursery

“The committee is the employer of staff in the pre-school and so has overall responsibility and liability for recruiting, training and developing staff, paying their salaries and managing their contracts,” Mrs Glendenning said.

“The current committee members are all busy mums who feel they no longer have the knowledge, skills and time required to make the pre-school reach its full potential and would like to give the opportunity for other parents and members of the community to join the committee and have an active role in the children’s early years education.”

But while she said the role would take time and dedication, she said “knowing you’re helping your child’s learning environment makes it worthwhile”.

The pre-school launched a £100,000 fundraiser to see it move into a new home, and out of the mobile classroom home it has been housed in for 25 years. South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss visited its site last month to boost the fundraising campaign.

If you are interested in joining the committee, email hdawno@hotmail.co.uk by Friday, February 23.

Not an unusual scenario

Difficulties recruiting volunteers to run childcare settings is not uncommon, a charity says.

The Pre-School Learning Alliance, which represents more than 14,000 settings, including Kenninghall, said the demand on parents was often difficult to overcome.

Bridget Allison, publications and informations manager, said that charities played a huge role in providing childcare, but that they must be run by volunteers, which, in the case of early years, was often parents.

“The benefit of this is that it gives parents the opportunity to be fully involved in their child’s progress and development, but of course not all parents can commit to a trustee role due to other commitments,” she said.

“If a charity is unable to recruit sufficient volunteers to undertake trustee positions, then this may lead to closure – and unfortunately we often hear of childcare settings finding themselves in this difficult situation.”

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