Battle to keep staff at nursery

Children join their parents on a protest against the loss of staff at the nursery
Children join their parents on a protest against the loss of staff at the nursery
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PARENTS are fighting plans to cut the number of staff at their children’s nursery, fearing their education will suffer as a result.

Four staff members will be leaving Hope Cottage Nursery within the next week, sparking anger amongst parents.

A nursery teacher, learning assistant, nursery nurse and learning assistant who works specifically with children with additional needs will all go.

Education bosses insist no-one is being made redundant and that they are leaving due to temporary arrangements coming to an end. But parents say this is just their way of justifying a series of cuts without having to consult anyone.

One of the campaigners, Gael Cochrane, 37, fears that the time the children spend with a qualified nursery teacher will be vastly reduced.

Miss Cochrane, whose four-year-old daughter Mairi attends the Newington nursery, said: “A couple of weeks ago we received a letter saying we are having a farewell party for the staff members that are leaving, and that was the first we had heard about it.

“They didn’t consult with us about it.

“Myself and other parents are really concerned about what impact it’s going to have on the nursery kids as they are going to miss out on valuable teaching time.

“These cuts remove in one go over 14 years’ worth of nursery teaching experience and will make a very real difference to the standard and quality of teaching and care the nursery will be able to provide.”

Miss Cochrane added that the nursery, which is 98 years old, had its teaching time cut just last year from five days a week to three and a half.

Another parent, Teresa Catto-Smith, is particularly angry after previously battling with education chiefs over their decision to close Westfield Court Nursery. She said: “Once again I find myself worrying about how effective and supportive the pre-school education is for my child.”

The parents have collected 113 signatures on a petition to protect staff numbers at Hope Cottage, which they have sent to the council’s education director Gillian Tee. They are also lobbying city councillors.

Angela Clarke, whose son Ollie, two, also attends the nursery, said: “My Ollie loves being at the nursery and much of that is down to the quality of the lessons and the great relationship he has with the teachers, nursery nurses and assistants.”

A city council spokesman said the staffing situation at Hope Cottage Nursery is a result of changes to temporary staffing arrangements and said that a senior early years worker will be appointed.

He added: “No teacher, nor any member of staff, is being made redundant at Hope Cottage Nursery and there has been no reduction in the core funding or staffing allocation.”

gfraser@edinburghnews.com