Parents’ relief as nursery avoids axe

Fiona Oatman and daughter Sarah
Fiona Oatman and daughter Sarah
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PARENTS have spoken of their relief that their children’s nursery has been granted a reprieve after being told that it was to close after more than four decades.

Edinburgh University bosses reassured parents in a recent meeting that there are currently no plans to close the Uni-Tots Nursery in its Department of Psychology and that it will remain open “for at least a year”.

As reported in the Evening News last month, mother-of-two Fiona Oatman, from Newington, said she was told by staff that the nursery – where students carry out psychological tests on the children – would close in August.

At the time the university said no formal decision had been taken but added that it was “examining a range of options” for nursery provision.

An online petition started by parents of children at the nursery has since attracted hundreds of signatures, with a Facebook page called Save Uni-Tots Nursery also set up.

Malachi Bogdanov, 42, whose three-year-old daughter Amelie attends Uni-Tots, said he was “very pleased” with the decision not to close the nursery.

“I think the university has backtracked because there’s been a lot of pressure from parents and teachers and other people,” he said.

“There has been a huge campaign over the last week – there is a petition with over 800 signatures. There was a proper mobilisation of support for the nursery, which put the university under pressure.”

Mr Bogdanov, who lives in Leith, added: “There was a meeting between the parents and the university, which stated that the nursery would not be closed down and if there was that potential, then obviously it would keep in consultation with the parents and staff.

“The university said the nursery would not be relocated for at least a year.”

The nursery, which overlooks George Square, is used to support research and teaching in the university’s psychology department, with children occasionally taking part in games which provide insights for professional psychologists and students into the development of thinking and social behaviour in the pre-school years.

Mrs Oatman, whose four-year-old daughter Sarah has been attending the nursery for the last 18 months, said: “I was so utterly delighted to hear that they’re keeping the nursery open – it’s absolutely amazing.”

A spokesman for the university said there were even plans to expand its nursery provision.

“The University of Edinburgh is completely committed to providing a nursery service for staff and students at the university, and there are no plans to close its Uni-Tots nursery at this stage,” he said.

“In fact, the university is looking to expand its nursery provision with a plan to develop a new state-of-the-art facility in the future.

“Senior management from the university met with a delegation of parents on Wednesday morning to explain to them that, contrary to some reports, Uni-Tots will reopen as normal in its current location after the summer break.

“A service of this kind would never be closed until all users were offered alternative facilities and a full consultation about future nursery provision with all relevant stakeholders had been conducted.

“As the university seeks to expand and modernise its nursery services, parents and other key stakeholders will be fully consulted throughout every step of the process.”