Parents have been left in shock at the sudden closure of a parent and toddler group that runs out of Dover Road primary school.
The Peter Rabbit group has been running for the last 23 years in the Beehive room and was taken over by mother-of-two Louise Page about four years ago.
Even though she is a parent governor at the school, she had no idea of the planned closure and was given the devastating news last week, just as the school broke for half term.
Child minder Mrs Page, who first attended the group 12 years ago with her son Henry, said: “The head teacher told me the group had to close on Wednesday.
"I said I wanted to organise a party and she said leave it with me and then on Friday we got a letter saying we’d closed. We’ve not heard a thing from the school since.
“The parent and toddler group has about 30 children regularly attending and we also run holiday clubs and have Christmas parties and so on.
“It’s a supportive group where everyone looks after each other.
"We do a lot of things to get children prepared for nursery, we cover healthy eating, we do arts and crafts and we have a music session where we sing and sometimes have instruments.
“It’s self-funding and any money we make we use for an end-of-term trip to the beach.”
On Tuesday, Louise and some of her parents and volunteers made their way to the school to clear out boxes of toys and games and are now looking for somewhere to store them.
The 44-year-old added: “Everyone has been in shock and some of the parents have set up a Facebook page which has had a huge response and I’ve had so many texts and emails and messages.
“I’m being asked if we’re going to set up somewhere else but I don’t know. It’s very hard to speak to anyone because it’s the half term week.
“The school is looking to provide a similar scheme because the government is offering funding for two-year-olds – that’s where we came in before.”
A letter sent out from head teacher Catherine Ward stated that governors and Reach2, the trust which runs the school, are submitting a bid to the Department of Education to rebuild the ‘early years’ area.
Mrs Ward said: “We would love to have a new modern building for our pre-school and reception children.
“As with everything it depends on whether we can get the funding for this, which will run to millions, but we are hopeful and we will push.
“In the meantime we are going to refurbish the nursery building. We also intend to start a small pre-pre-school group for two-year-olds. This will be housed in the Beehive for the time being.
“Consequently the Beehive will need redecorating and equipping and so from today, the toddler group run by Mrs Page will be closing.
“We thank Mrs Page for providing the toddler group for some of our parents and children over the years.”
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