Oakham’s Catmose Nursery is likely to close its doors permanently

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A nursery which was heavily criticised by Oftsed after a three-year-old child was able leave the premises unnoticed looks set to close.

As reported in the Mercury, Catmose Nursery – based on the Catmose College campus in Oakham – received a number of visits by inspectors and was ordered to make improvements after Joseph Kemp was found in the street.

A passer-by took him to a police station on the afternoon of Friday, August 5.

Now, the Rutland and District Schools’ Federation – which runs the nursery as well as a number of other schools – is to discuss closing it down permanently when a meeting is held next week.

A letter was recently sent to nursery staff, warning them of possible redundancies if the closure is approved.

In the letter, which has been seen by the Mercury, executive principal Stuart Williams, writes: “The financial position of the nursery has become unsustainable, last year it lost at least £38,000 and in the current financial year –which began on September 1 – it already has a deficit of £11,000: this is predicted to rise substantially.

“The financial situation is likely to deteriorate further because of proposed cuts to Early Years funding and increased staffing costs as a result of the Living Wage being implemented. This combination has unfortunately made the nursery unsustainable.”

The letter states the federation is exploring ways to avoid compulsory redundancies, with some staff potentially being redeployed elsewhere in the federation.

If redundancies are necessary, Mr Williams writes that two of three senior staff members would be at risk, alongside six from a pool of 11 nursery nurses.

There is no mention in the letter of the Joseph Kemp incident.

When asked by the Mercury if there was any link between the Ofsted investigation and the potential closure, Mr Williams said the answer was no, adding: “The financial position of the nursery provision was in deficit last year and this situation is going to worsen in the future as a result of changes to Early Years funding.

“The college’s other funding is provided only to educate 11 to 16-year-old students. By law it cannot be used to support or subsidise the nursery.”

He said parents would be offered help to find alternative nurseries for their children.