Parents in 'complete shock' as Ardleigh Green nursery announces closure

Parents received a letter on May 30 informing them of the decision to shut the nursery

Parents received a letter on May 30 informing them of the decision to shut the nursery - Credit: Thomas Clarke

News an Ardleigh Green nursery is due to close has left parents “really disappointed”, with a rush now on to find a new space for their children. 

Stepping Stones is a day nursery on the New City College (NCC) campus in Ardleigh Green. 

It caters for children from three months to preschool, and is open from 7.45am to 6.15pm. 

However, on May 30, parents of pupils received a letter informing them of plans to close the provision on August 31. 

The letter, seen by the Recorder, states the closure is the result of a “lengthy consultation” because it is not financially viable. 

When asked who the college engaged with, an NCC spokesperson said the consultation was internal. 

However, they said NCC will "support parents to find alternative provision". 

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Thomas Clarke, 40, who works as the Havering Lib Dems' press officer, has a daughter who was enrolled at the nursery. 

Thomas Clarke

Thomas Clarke - Credit: Thomas Clarke

He described the letter as a "complete shock and completely out of the blue” as Thomas alleges parents had no prior communication about plans to close Stepping Stones. 

His son also previously attended the nursery, but he and his wife had “never had an issue with them before”. 

Thomas said the staff are "absolutely fantastic”, making it harder to find an appropriate replacement. 

“It’s not just a case of 'can I find anywhere?', it’s also 'is it suitable and is it affordable?',” he said, adding other nurseries can be as much as 50 per cent more expensive per day. 

“People are just really disappointed about it because it's been part of the community for such a long time. 

“Other young families who have just had children, it’s a blow to them as well.” 

Toddlers at the Ardleigh Green nursey showed off their best drawing tributes to Captain Tom.

Toddlers at the Ardleigh Green nursey last year showing off their best drawing tributes to Captain Sir Tom Moore - Credit: Havering Colleges

Although Thomas and his wife thought they had found an alternative nursery place for their daughter, the next vacancy was not until September 2023. 

Since the news was received, he said everyone has been “desperately charging around”. 

An NCC spokesperson said: “We will support parents to find alternative provision. 

“The Ardleigh Green campus continues to thrive as a further education college.” 

Last year, approval was granted to build three detached homes on the campus grounds. The development is part of a masterplan to generate funds for a new special educational needs (SEN) facility.