Save Acorns. Preserve our Nursery as Legally Agreed!

Save Acorns. Preserve our Nursery as Legally Agreed!

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Save Acorns Nursery Campaign started this petition to Andrew Slade (Principal, Oaklands College) and

The community of St Albans - residents, parents, nursery staff, teachers and students – petition the Oaklands College Corporation to overturn the decision to close Acorns Nursery the week of 6th September 2021, on the Oaklands College Smallford Campus. The existing nursery building, Manor House, faces imminent demolition as the College has no intention of running a nursery anymore. This is despite receiving special planning permission for the redevelopment of the college campus, which included the construction of a new nursery for Acorns. This new nursery building has never materialised.

We call for the Senior Leadership Team to be held to account for the following:

  • The unacceptable six week period of notice given to parents, carers and dedicated members of staff, to find alternative premises, new childcare places and jobs, over the summer holiday period and during a national pandemic - which has been referred to as a ‘consultation’, by Oaklands' Senior Leadership Team.
  • For not maintaining the existing nursery building, Manor House, which the College has known requires substantial repairs since 2013. The College claims this is a reason for closure, yet it has argued the same to demolish Manor House, and build a new nursery, to the Secretary of State on Appeal in 2015. So, where is our new nursery then?
  • The withdrawal of childcare facilities across the College Estate, resulting in no childcare provision for staff and students  - in particular for vulnerable families - or a nursery site for the apprenticeship courses in childcare and early years teaching.
  • Failing to deliver a new £1.1m nursery building, for which specific funding had already been secured through the sale of Green Belt Land; for which planning permission had already been granted under ‘very special circumstances’ in 2017; and which was written into a legally binding contract between Oaklands College, St. Albans District Council (SADC), and Hertfordshire County Council (HCC).

Due to these actions by the College Management, we demand that the Chief Executive and the Corporation:

  1. Grants a stay of execution to Manor House and suspends the current consultation for a period of at least 3 months.
  2. Undertakes a full review of options for existing and new nursery facilities, and their management, in partnership with HCC and alternative operators.
  3. Explores a long-lease option with an alternative operator, who can fund and operate a new nursery building on the Smallford Campus.
  4. Once the above has been concluded, give full notice of the decision to enable a transition to new arrangements.

These proposals are in accordance with the Section 106 Legal Agreement made between Oakland College, SADC and HCC, to maintain a nursery on the campus for use by the staff and students of the College, and the wider community of St Albans.

To date the College has not provided a reasonable explanation as to why a new nursery building has not been delivered, as part of the approved 2017 College Masterplan, nor explained how the £1.1m specifically allocated for a new nursery has been spent. We say to the Oaklands College Corporation - honour your agreement - preserve Acorns Nursery as legally agreed!

For further information, contact:

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At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!