Deaf school confirms loss-making nursery to close

Nursery parent Fiona Pashley and son Adam, three. Picture: comp

Nursery parent Fiona Pashley and son Adam, three. Picture: comp

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Scotland’s national deaf school has confirmed its loss-making nursery will close – sparking shock and anger among campaigning parents who wanted to save it.

Mums and dads of children at Donaldson’s School nursery in Linlithgow said the institution’s leaders had “refused” to implement proposals which would have seen it retained as a community facility.

Today, governors hit back and said keeping the nursery open would create an unacceptably high level of financial risk.

But mum Jenny McDonagh slammed the decision and said: “Working parents need nursery places which fit with the working day, but they also need to find childcare that meets the needs of their individual child.

“Donaldson’s offered something for children who wouldn’t always thrive in other settings. It’s a huge loss, and the Scottish Government should step in to keep the nursery open, at least until an alternative arrangement can be found.”

Campaigner Fiona Pashley, 41, added: “Donaldson’s is an outstanding nursery which has never had proper financial management.

“My elder son started at the nursery over three years ago, and we have never had regular bills from the school. Having new board members in charge has made no difference.

“It’s no wonder that the nursery runs at a loss when it doesn’t send out bills properly.”

A recent Care Inspectorate report revealed the nursery had been graded “very good” for quality of care, support and environment, while staffing, management and leadership were rated “good”.

Parents said that as well as having three dedicated spaces for youngsters with additional support needs, it was popular with families whose children struggle in large or noisy environments, and benefit from purpose-built surroundings and highly qualified staff.

Stressing that efforts to re-deploy six nursery workers were continuing, a spokeswoman for Donaldson’s School said: “Following careful consideration of the proposals provided for the continuance of the nursery for local children at Donaldson’s School, which has run at a loss for several years, the board of governors has decided the costs involved would result in the school retaining significant financial risk.

“The board also considers that now is the best time to close the nursery when places are available elsewhere for the children.

“We are aware the decision will be a disappointment to the families with children at the nursery and assure them that very careful consideration was given to their proposals.”

A spokesman for West Lothian Council said: “We will continue to fund West Lothian children who have been allocated a place at Donaldson’s nursery until its closure.

“The council was preparing to grant the full allocation of 24 nursery places to Donaldson’s for the 2015-16 term, when they informed us of their decision to close the nursery.”

He added: “We have written to the parents/carers of all West Lothian children placed at Donaldson’s nursery to offer them a place in another nursery in Linlithgow, including flexible and wraparound care options.”