Parents fighting to save ‘inadequate’ pre-school

Michelle Stead is one of the parents petitioning to keep Mill Dam Ducklings open. She is pictured with her daughter Scarlett.
Michelle Stead is one of the parents petitioning to keep Mill Dam Ducklings open. She is pictured with her daughter Scarlett.

Parents are campaigning for a nursery school rated “inadequate” in all areas by Ofsted to remain open.

Nearly 100 people have signed a petition to save Mill Dam Ducklings in Ackworth, after parents were told it will close on January 31.

Michelle Stead, who launched the campaign, said the nursery was “much needed”. “A lot of parents say they have not got any concerns about it,” she said.

Miss Stead takes her youngest daughter, two, to the nursery, on Mill Gate, at the same time as she drops off her older daughter at Mill Dam J&I school.

She said: “There aren’t very many nurseries in the area that offer places for two-year-olds.

“And I’d hate to have to go through months of trying to get my daughter settled somewhere else for her to then move back to Mill Dam when she starts school next year.

“I feel with time and support the nursery could achieve all of what is being asked to. We feel devastated that such a good nursery is closing.”

MP Jon Trickett, who lives in Ackworth, said action was “clearly required” after the damning Ofsted report, produced following a visit by inspectors in November. But he said the “abrupt closure” of the nursery was “indefensible”.

“Many parents in Ackworth tell me that the complete loss of the service will have a massive impact on them and their children,” he said.

“Local people want an accessible service in the village and would prefer the nursery to remain open with a professional action plan to drive up standards, and I must say I agree.”

Waterton Academy Trust took over the running of Mill Dam School last summer.

Chief executive Dave Dickinson said the trust had also applied to be the registered provider of the nursery and had begun to implement measures to turn it around. But following the poor inspection, he said it had been told that council funding for the pre-school would cease.

“We had every intention to work on the nursery and to get it to where it should be,” he said.

“But we weren’t given enough time to get it sorted. It’s disappointing.”

He said the trust had begun the process of registering a new pre-school. But it is not expected to open until September.