Pre-school announces closure due to ‘intolerable’ strain on teachers

Ravensemere Arc Pre-school in Beccles will be closing on November 1. Photo: Ravensmere Arc

Ravensemere Arc Pre-school in Beccles will be closing on November 1. Photo: Ravensmere Arc - Credit: Archant

A town preschool has announced its sudden closure, blaming a lack of government funding and pressures put upon childcare settings.

Ravensmere Arc Pre-School in Beccles will be closing on Friday, November 1, giving staff four weeks notice.

In a statement the school's managing director Caroline Gooderham said the close was with "much sadness and regret".

She said: "This has been an extremely difficult decision for me to make but is one that is supported by the staff.

"I hoped to stay open until Christmas but circumstances have now forced my decision, so I apologise that I have only been able to give four weeks notice."

Mrs Gooderham said the school is closing for many reasons, including "pressures and expectations put upon small childcare settings such as the Arc which have become increasingly intolerable over recent years".

"We have increasingly voiced our concerns and frustrations with the decreasing respect this profession attracts. The funding that we receive from the government, which we receive for most of the pre-school hours leaves us with a shortfall to be financially sustainable."

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The school also pointed to unpaid debts by parents as a reason for closure.

Finances had become so hard for the school that Mrs Gooderham had taken a second job and was working seven days a week.

"This, coupled with lengthy discussions with the staff about the future of childcare and education in our society, leads me to conclude closing the arc is the right decision to make."

Councillor Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for Children's Services, Education and Skills, said: "I was sorry to hear that Ravensmere Arc has taken the decision to close.

"There are instances when a pre-school or nursery will decide to close for business reasons. The council's Early Years and Childcare service will always offer its support before such a decision is reached, as it did with Ravensmere Arc.

"I would like to reassure parents that our Family information Service will support those who need assistance to find a suitable alternative provider for their children, to access their early years entitlements."

Councillor Jones added he will continue to campaign for fair funding for schools and early years provision.

Head teacher Mrs Gooderham added: "There has been a pre-school at Ravensmere since the 70s and I have spent almost 20 years working here.

"Since announcing our closure o we have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback from the community, for which I am extremely grateful.

"I have very fond memories of the hundreds of children and their families who have passed through our doors over the last two decades and closing the door for the final time on November 1 will be a very emotional day I am sure."

Have you been affected by the closure? Email or call 01502 525832.