Oaklands College responds to questions on nursery closure
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Bosses at Oaklands College have finally answered key questions about the closure of Acorns Day Nursery.
In the wake of the shock announcement to staff and parents that they faced a consultation of just six weeks ahead of the facility's proposed closure, the Herts Ad demanded answers to outstanding queries surrounding the move.
This week we received the following responses from the college leadership team.
Q. When the new nursery was dropped from Phase 2, money was set aside to bring Manor House up to scratch. That was long before the Local Plan was withdrawn, and before Covid and any impact on enrolment, so why didn’t it happen?
A. The original plan was to relocate the nursery but this became unaffordable within the overall budget. Subsequently the focus was on the delivery of a nursery through the Local Plan.
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Q. What are the imminent repairs needed to bring Manor House up to required standards, and does Oaklands have a costing for this?
A. There are a number of interior and exterior repairs that are needed. The overall cost to bring the Manor House into the required standards comes to multiple hundreds of thousands of pounds.
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Q. Why did the college wait between November 2020 when the Local Plan was withdrawn and June/July 2021 to decide to consult on closure? What other options were investigated during this period?
A. As soon as the Local Plan was withdrawn we looked at a range of options including modular buildings and different locations. This had to be explored in context with the wider overall estate plans and so various options were explored from that point.
Q. SADC is now investigating Oaklands for breaching the assurances made to achieve planning permission - does the college believe it has contravened the terms of its Section 106?
A. It wouldn’t be appropriate to comment about the specifics but what we would say is that the college is working closely and constructively with the district council.
Q. Why is the college still promoting its Childcare and Early Years course in conjunction with Acorns?
A. The college works with a number of nursery providers for its childcare and early years courses. No final decision has been reached regarding Acorns. Once a decision is reached and depending on the nature of that decision, then this will be reflected in the relevant course information.