Help us save Coteland's Nursery from closure!
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A nursery opened in Croydon to help pregnant teenagers, schoolgirl mums and young parents stay in education is going to have to close this year due to a cut in funding.
Cotelands Nursery, part of Cotelands Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) which is located on the site of John Ruskin College, in Selsdon, is shutting for good in July after 40 years of supporting young families in the borough.
The nursery, judged to be 'Outstanding' by Ofsted, looks after babies and toddlers of young parents at Cotelands PRU, John Ruskin College, Croydon College and other providers of further education.
It is having to close at the end of this academic year due to the loss of a key £120,000 a year ‘Care to Learn’ government grant that was originally designed to encourage teenage mums to get back into education in South Croydon and New Addington.
The closure will have a massive impact on dozens of families because as well as caring for children from birth to the age of three, staff offer emotional and medical support for mums who are returning to education.
Eleanor Simmonds, who has managed the nursery for 12 years, said: “It’s very different to normal nursery, it’s a unique environment where we can guide both the parent and their child.
“All of our staff are specialists at supporting teenage parents.
“With the intervention of our specialist team, the babies and toddlers in our care are coming out above average for development most of the time.
“Every child who comes in is given a ‘key person’ who's role it is to develop a personal relationship with the parent and the child.
“It’s highly personal and staff are trained to do almost everything to support the child and the parent, with information, organisation, practical help and simply a cup of tea.
“We help them buy things for their babies, like baby powder and the right food. As the parents are in college they miss out on clinic appointments so we have a health visitor come in to weigh the babies and other checks here."
“We don’t know where [the Care to Learn grant] has gone, but what we do know is that it’s no longer being given to the council.
“We’ve met with the council, we’ve restructured, we’ve done all of the short term things.
"We reduced the size of the nursery from 40 to 32 to reduce the running costs, staff have taken pay cuts, we’ve looked for charity bids but we can’t satisfy the criteria as we aren’t a charity and we can’t apply for charity status because we’ve run out of time.
“Being a part of the Cotelands Nursery has been so exciting for those of us involved. It’s such a brilliant example of using education for those in a vulnerable and often unsafe situation.
“It has had a measurable impact on the Croydon community by giving these young women a leg up and an opportunity to get jobs and make a life for themselves.
“This is keeping these young people off the sofa and getting them into work and university.
“When you think of what you’re getting for that £120,000, it’s not a large price to pay for these kids.”
“Closing the centre is counter intuitive to everything I believe in as an educator," she added.
"The reality is that we don’t know if these young parents will be able to afford other nurseries and still attend college.
“It’s a real tragedy and everybody believes it’s a valuable resource but nobody has that funding stream.”
Kadejah Clarke was supported by the team at the nursery up until 2015 and is now in her second year of university in Wolverhampton.
The 22-year-old said: “Cotelands Nursery was definitely not just a nursery for me.
"It was a place to chill, a place to talk, a place to vent, a place to cry and a place that was definitely filled with love from all the staff members.
“I never wanted to quit college and Cotelands gave me that opportunity to continue with my studies whilst knowing that my daughter was next door.“I don't know how I would have coped if I would have gone through all what I did at time without their support.
“I have achieved all what I have because of Cotelands Nursery, so I would love for someone else to have the same opportunity as I did, love them as much as I do.”
Why is funding being cut on a outstanding nursery that is saving lives, putting young people in education and providing excellent care?
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