St Albans computer firm joins pre-school campaign

AN ENTHUSIASTIC pre-school leader has joined forces with a computer shop to encourage parents to go online and respond to a public consultation – the effects of which could have “threatening and disastrous consequences”.

The Nursery Admissions Consultation opened on Monday and invites residents to give opinions on plans which, if pushed through, would end the two-intake policy for admission to nursery classes.

Keen for people to voice their views on potential changes to the nursery system, Janet Audley-Charles, who runs Old London Road Pre-School, in Riverside Road, St Albans, hopes that involvement from The Maltings-based media store Solutions Inc. will raise awareness and increase impact.

Currently, there are new intakes of children in September and January and any changes would take effect from September 2013. Some schools already have just one intake as custom but that is not county council policy.

For six weeks, Herts county council wants to hear feedback on new ideas for the system, which it says would “allow schools to choose the intake policy that meets local needs”.

The council also maintains it extends the choice for parents as they can access the free place entitlement – a national scheme offering every child 570 hours a year of free early education – with any type of provider from the term after their child’s third birthday.

But Mrs Audley-Charles fears that a one-intake policy could have “disastrous consequences for the sustainability of smaller private, voluntary and independent providers, some of whom are charity-based non-profit making community pre-schools”.

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She went on: “It could threaten and close pre-schools, which would be sorely felt across the local community – this at a time when the government plans to extend provision for two-year-olds, when settings are already struggling under funding constraints.”

And Mrs Audley-Charles says there are questions over whether it’s appropriate for children who have just turned three to enter school nurseries where staff/pupil ratios are much lower, an anticipated consequence of the proposed changes.

She added: “It is worrying that the policy review appears mainly to be for funding purposes and not for the needs of families.”

Solutions Inc. education director Simon Birch agreed to help by acting as a focal point in the city, from where shoppers can log on to a designated tablet and register their concerns.

The consultation closes on Friday, June 1, and responses can be made online at