Parents condemn Oaklands' decision to close nursery as a 'travesty'

Acorns Day Nursery at Oaklands College could close.

Parents have been left devastated over the news that Acorns Day Nursery at Oaklands College could close. - Credit: Supplied

Parents with children at Acorns Day Nursery have made heartfelt pleas asking Oaklands College not to close the facility.

But it appears as though their requests have fallen on deaf ears, with no signs of the college budging on its proposal to shut the nursery following an obligatory six week consultation period.

The Oaklands senior team have been accused of running roughshod over calls for a stay of execution or an alternative site on the grounds.

Dad Mark Taylor and his wife went on a waiting list to secure their spot at Oaklands when their daughter was just a six-month bump.

He explained: "In choosing Acorns we picked a nursery that had passionate and caring staff and they have all been a credit to the development of our daughter. The unique setting, with open spaces access to animals and safe places to walk in small groups really set this nursery apart.

"We have been appalled by the way in which Oaklands College has been so disingenuous and clearly for some time their only agenda has been to close this nursery.

"Special planning measures seems to have been disregarded, proposed sites for a nursery move ‘discounted’ either on or off site, Herts county council was not consulted ahead of the notice circulated - or approached for any support or potential funding - and a one track view from the college that the current Manor House facility is not viable for upkeep and repair which now suggests that the building will be levelled as the campus is developed further.

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"Parents have been frustrated by the Oaklands College team hiding behind out of office responses and choosing not to answer very direct and valid questions and concerns, it’s shameful.

"I am firmly of the view that the college has already made a decision and has made a play to run down the clock leaving the bare minimum of time for staff and parents to respond. It feels like a total fudge and is a thoroughly unsatisfactory set of events that only has the commercial interest of the college at the core."

Mum Laura Harrison said: "What a travesty it is that this such a wonderful nursery is to close.

"It’s appalling that the parents have only been given six weeks notice, particularly as other local nurseries are generally very full with long waiting lists.

"We were all told over the years that the plan was to build a new nursery on the site and that this was part of the deal with the developers. I don’t know what went wrong here but it’s obviously not happening."

Clare Latham fumed: "I cannot put into words how angry and upset the proposal has made me.

"I have spent the last two years working hard to keep our own education service running throughout the pandemic and putting parents and students at the forefront of all decision making.

"I am at a loss to understand how Oaklands can think a six week time frame to look for, and secure, in case the proposal goes ahead with immediate effect, another suitable, or even comparable, nursery place, in a saturated market, is a reasonable expectation.

"Throughout all the lockdowns and being isolated from our wider support network, the nursery staff have been a vital part of my children's daily lives and allowed me to fulfil my keyworker role. Now I have to explain to my toddlers that their nursery is potentially closing when I'm not even 100 per cent sure of the reason myself.

"What was the backup plan for the nursery when Oaklands took the decision in 2013 to move it from the Manor House? Surely there were safeguards in place, such as a rigorous maintenance schedule on the existing building?

"What other options were sought between the withdrawal of the Local Plan in November 2020 and the decision to consult on closure seven to eight months later?"