The Fields Nursery is set to slash pupil numbers, opening hours and nursery staff numbers after savage reductions in funding caused by Government policies.
At a time of rising demand, places for youngsters will be cut from 152 to 126. The news comes hot on the heals of the announcement of the closure of Trumpington Park nursery.
Opening hours at The Fields will be reduced from 8am-6pm to 8am-4pm and the nursery will open in term time only. 15 staff face losing their jobs.
Central government funding has not kept up with the cost of wages, pension contributions and inflation rises. In addition the introduction of the government’s ‘free 30 hours childcare offer’ has delivered a severe blow to nursery finances. The government budget to the nursery for each ‘free’ hour of childcare they provide is £4.79 per hour whereas a commercial rate would be £8 per hour.
Daniel Zeichner MP said: “This is really bad news – the Fields does a brilliant job in one of the most deprived parts of Cambridge. It is much more than just a nursery school, it is a hub for many essential services that are key to the local community. The government’s free childcare policy was always a con, because it was never properly funded, and they just passed the buck on to local councils. There is no point in a theoretical free 30 hours of childcare if there are no places available and, sadly, that is the way we are heading in Cambridge.
“This is heart breaking for the hard working and dedicated staff losing their jobs and painful for parents and children alike. The reduced opening hours and end to holiday provision will also come as a bitter blow to many working parents. This is what happens when you cut services to the bone. Local providers are doing their best but in the end we will all suffer from the Government’s mismanagement.”