Walpole Cross Keys pre-school faces closure unless more youngsters attend

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A village  pre­school faces possible closure if more children don’t attend.

Come September just four youngsters have been enrolled at Ladybirds Pre­School, Walpole Cross Keys, rendering it financially unviable, according to those in charge.

Ladybirds is the village’s only such facility and one of a small number offering funded places to two year olds as well as 15 hours’ a week for those aged three and over.

It currently has 11 children on roll, but when the new school year starts numbers will be severely depleted as those aged four and over move up to the neighbouring primary school.

New committee chairman Jane Wilkinson says it’s vital more places are filled to help keep the pre-school going, which was rated as good by Ofsted at its last inspection.

“Ladybirds has been running about 20 years now - it’s a lovely little school, where everybody knows each other and looks out for each other,” she said.

“We’re desperately looking for new children to come and join us though. This year’s intake into the primary school is set to be one of the biggest for a long time.

“As things stand we’ll be left with just four children - that’s going to put us in limbo, it’s not financially viable to run it with just four.

“We are looking into opening for afternoon sessions and Fridays, depending on the demand from parents and carers.

“We just need some support to keep it going.”

The pre-school - a charitable organisation only receiving income from the children’s fees and committee’s fundraising - has two members of staff plus parent helpers who give up their time voluntarily.

“With small numbers it can be really difficult to raise money,” added Mrs Wilkinson, “But that’s also one of the best things about it - some children really do thrive in a smaller setting.

“The pre-school is open to children from outside the village, and we’ve got some great facilities, indoors and out.

“That’s why we’ve got to keep it going as long as we can.”

To help raise funds Ladybirds is hosting an Easter fair from 10am to 2pm on Saturday, April 5, in its grounds at 28 Sutton Road.

There are spaces for car boot and craft tables as well as an Easter egg hunt, tombola, raffle, cake stall and a beautician who will be offering treatments including gel nails.

* Ladybirds is open Monday to Thursdays, from 9.15am until 1pm. For more information visit www.crosskeysprimary.org or call 01553 828680.