Closure of '˜outstanding' pre-school shocks parents

A popular pre-school in Worthing is set to close, despite being rated '˜outstanding' by Oftsed.

Welcome In Pre-School, Worthing. Picture: Derek Martin
Welcome In Pre-School, Worthing. Picture: Derek Martin

The Welcome In pre-school in Crescent Road, Worthing, is run by the Salvation Army and has been looking after children from low-income families for 20 years.

In 2012 it was rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.

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But parents were recently informed that the preschool would be closing at the end of July.

Elaine Lacey, 33, from Durrington has three children who have attended the pre-school and is involved in a petition to try to keep it open. She said: “We weren’t expecting it at all. A few staff members had left but we were told it was fine and that they were hoping to employ new people.

“All of a sudden we were asked to attend a meeting and were given the news it was to close. It’s an absolutely lovely pre-school, it just seems such a shame it has to close.”

A Salvation Army spokesperson said that the decision was made after ‘careful consideration of all possible options’.

“As a church and a charity we have a duty to ensure all our funds are used appropriately and are directed to the areas of service most needed in our community. When the preschool first opened in 1996 it offered a unique service to people on lower incomes for whom the existing preschool places were inaccessible.

“Today, a number of similar preschools support families in the town. The Welcome In Preschool is simply not financially viable in this climate. We are working with parents to direct them to alternative preschool provision in the area.”

“It has been our privilege to work with children and their families in Worthing through our preschool for the past 20 years and we are grateful for the professionalism and excellence of our staff throughout this time.”

Speaking on behalf of staff at Welcome In, deputy manager Nina Down, 39, said: “We feel it’s a great shame to lose this pre-school. Being part of a charity and community programme we’re able to support children from all cultures and with different needs. The staff are really upset – all our children came here too. It’s one big extended family.”

The Salvation Army are helping staff to find new jobs.