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Handsworth nursery fears for its future

WORRIED: Manager Lee Blair with nursery administrator Lisa Johnson

JELLYBEAN NURSERY has been at the heart of Birmingham’s Handsworth community for the past 14 years, where it has provided a caring environment for hundreds of young children.

But now St Michael’s CE Primary Academy, which shares the site in Piers Road, wants the nursery out of Jubilee Building, which it owns, before July 31. This means nursery manager Lee Blair, his staff and up to 35 youngsters, are now faced with the upheaval of trying to find another home.

It’s a mighty blow for the nursery, which was awarded "outstanding" in its latest OFSTED inspection in "parent partnership" and "healthy lifestyles" categories.

In 2012 it received the highest Quality Assurance award in Birmingham when it was given a coveted Effective Early Learning Quality Assurance award.

But Blair says the relationship between the school and the nursery has broken down since the school transferred to academy status, opting out of local authority control.

“Before this, we had an excellent relationship as 85 per cent of our children would go on to St Michael’s so we worked together very closely to prepare the children for their next educational step,” added Blair, who combines his nursery management with studying for a degree in childhood studies.

“Sadly, the school now makes life very difficult for us, but we are determined to carry on our work somewhere else. We are certainly not shutting down.

“We have been told the building is not fit for purpose, but we have not yet seen the documents confirming this, despite requesting them.”

The nursery is part-private and part Government funded and is run as a not-for-profit organisation.

Parent Khalid Hussain, whose own three children and now a grandchild, have all been to the pre-school, said: “This has been an excellent nursery for all my children. The preparation it gave them for primary school was invaluable.”

Rev Canon Brian Hall, chair of Governors at St Michael’s said the plan was to create a school nursery on the site where they hoped to raise standards.
“The inspection standards for a private nursery are much lower than those for a school nursery,” he said, adding that Jellybeans had been using the building free of charge for several years.

“In accordance with the agreement over the Jubilee Building it states that either party can terminate the agreement by giving three months’ notice.
We have given the nursery a full nine months notice.”

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