15th Sep, 2019

Solihull school takeover of special needs nursery gets council go-ahead amid concerns

Felix Nobes 10th Apr, 2018

A SOLIHULL school is to take over a special needs nursery, prompting concerns among some parents.

But Solihull council insists it has approved the move – scheduled for September – to protect the nursery’s future.

Reynalds Cross Special School will ‘acquire the site and premises’ at Green Lane Nursery, a council report states.

The nursery at Green Lane, Shirley, has been run by the Solihull Special Needs Association (SCSNA), a charitable trust which is due to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.

The playgroup achieved an OFSTED rating of Good in 2015.

And it also won a Gold Community Award for its services to the borough.

The report adds: “This provision has been growing year on year to meet the rising need for early years places for children with additional needs.

“A significant proportion of the children attending this provision move on to attend Reynalds Cross Special School.

“The Trust that runs Green Lane nursery has been concerned about being able to secure the long term future of this provision.

“Key issues involve the increasing time commitment required by the volunteers that form the Trust for the facility, due to increasing workload, together with the on-going requirement to raise funds to secure staffing to meet growing demand which is currently run by volunteers.”

It continues: “Green Lane is based in its own building, which is located on council land.

“Under this proposal the building will transfer to and be run by Reynalds Cross School. The provision will cater for up to 12 part-time three and four-year-old places (7.2 FTE – Full Time Equivalents).

“The Trust will continue to exist but will no longer have a requirement to provide education or childcare and will become a fundraising arm of this extended provision, similar to a PTA (Parents and Teachers Association)..

“Staff working for Green Lane nursery will be subject to TUPE transfer requirements.

“Initially the provision will transfer with minimal change. However it is anticipated that, longer term, the school will seek to increase and enhance the provision, possibly through the delivery of 30 hours extended provision.

“This proposal will secure an equivalent Early Years provision in South Solihull as is being provided by Pebbles in North Solihull.”

But the decision to go-ahead has met with some opposition among some staff and parents.

One staff source and some service users outlined their fears with the Solihull Observer about any future job losses and the nursery’s current intake, with some travelling from outside the catchment area for Reynalds Cross – and the borough.

The Green Lane staff member, who wanted to remain anonymous, also questioned why taxpayers’ money would be used, at a time of cutbacks and council tax rises, when the charity is “financially stable”.

The council report states the council will “commission” the staffing at a cost of £11,616 per place, of which the council will receive £2,223 in Nursery Education Grant.

Our staff source at SCSNA told us: “Numerous complaints from the community have been received regarding the takeover, the treatment of current staff, families and most importantly the children that access the setting.

“The charity has served the community and children with special educational needs and disabilities well and there is confusion as to why a successful and profitable charity needs to be transferred… which will cost more to run than what is currently taking place.

“The wellbeing of the current attendees and their families should be at the forefront of any agreement.”

Kylie Booth, a disgruntled parent, said: “The merge with Reynalds Cross would completely change the homely feel of the playgroup.

“You are just a number to the local authority but not at Green Lane – they treat you like family.”

Another, David Thane, who lives in Bromsgrove, said: “Before my child started attending Green Lane, she wasn’t really making eye contact or interacting – she is severely autistic. But since starting, its like a completely different child.”

He fears she may lose her place.

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