Full consultation on childcare called for

Wooler First School is moving to the middle school site next month.
Wooler First School is moving to the middle school site next month.

Parents affected by childcare changes in Wooler are calling for proper consultation and a full explanation of how the new system will work.

As previously reported by the Gazette, Wooler First School is to amalgamate onto the Glendale Middle School site from September.

However, the first school site has, up to this point, housed both the county council-run Sure Start centre and a pre-school run by the first school, which will be replaced by a new service at the middle school site.

This means that there will be no provision to take on further 0 to two-year-olds, although the three currently enrolled will be looked after and the county council has said that it is ‘confident that over the next few months there will be provision in place’.

Last Thursday, around 30 parents attended a public meeting in Wooler to share their views and to discuss the issue.

They formed an action group and are writing to the school, Sure Start and the county council to call for the consultation to be restarted or extended so that it does not run solely during the summer holidays.

The concerned parents also want someone to explain to them exactly what the new provision will look like.

Susie Hardie said: “For the community, it’s come as a real shock. This wonderful provision, which has been rated outstanding by Ofsted, is being removed.

“I feel very lucky that my youngest is starting school this September, but I’m a working mum, both my children went there and without it, I would have been left high and dry.

“I don’t know who’s responsible for the decision. I support the move of one school to the other site, but they have their hands tied.

“We don’t really know to talk to about it and it makes it very difficult to ask questions in the right direction.

“The sad thing is that people who need that service don’t know they need it yet.

Joyce Guthrie, chairwoman of the Northumberland Public Service Alliance, whose members are being affected by job losses, and also a parent in Wooler, said that there is ‘a lack of coherent information’.