Fight is lost as nursery closes

Parent campaigned against closure of First Steps Nursery.
Parent campaigned against closure of First Steps Nursery.

A nursery used by families at Hemsworth Academy will close at the end of the year.

The chain of academies which runs the school has confirmed that First Steps Nursery will shut down on December 31 with the loss of up to 13 jobs.

Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) went ahead with the closure despite a backlash from parents and almost 500 people signing a petition against the move.

The trust, which runs 20 schools and has a multi-million pound turnover, said the nursery was losing money and had a £68,000 deficit last year.

WCAT said in a statement: “Regrettably, the nursery closure will go ahead on December 31. A priority has been the 38 children and the families affected.

“We are pleased alternative arrangements have been secured for 31 of those while we are awaiting confirmation on the final seven.

“The 13 full and part-time posts will, unfortunately, have to be made redundant.”

Talks were ongoing with Unison about redeploying nursery staff in to other jobs if possible.

The Station Road nursery was first set up in 2002, partly to help students at Hemsworth Arts and Community College who had children.

In 2013, the school was taken over by WCAT, which then put the nursery under the ownership of its subsidiary company WCAT Trading Ltd.

Under the arrangement, the nursery is charged by WCAT for staff costs and use of the building.

WCAT said the nursery’s total running costs in 2015-16 came to £264,000.