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Challengers Announces Closure of Guildford Pre-school

Published on: 16 May, 2024
Updated on: 18 May, 2024

Challengers will be closing its Guildford pre-school

By David Reading

Children’s charity Challengers will be closing its Guildford pre-school at the end of the summer because of low levels of funding, rising costs and a difficulty in recruiting qualified staff.

Challengers said their pre-school joins many similar schools across the UK that have found themselves in a similar position due to staff shortages and government underfunding. The situation has been exacerbated by rising costs such as an increase of the real living wage, rising inflation and energy costs.

While the charity primarily provides services for disabled children and young people, their Guildford pre-school is not a SEND-specialist nursery (Special Educational Needs and Disability), but an inclusive nursery which takes children of all abilities.

The charity said continuing to fund the pre-school deficit would risk its other services, which are vital for disabled children and their families.

CEO Gen Dearman said: “Closure of a service is always a last resort, however we have been using our charitable reserves to fund the pre-school’s deficit for a number of years, and unfortunately we cannot continue without affecting the wider charity.

The pre-school will close on July 22

“We are extremely sad to be saying goodbye to the wonderful children and families we have been honoured to get to know. We have tried to give parents as much notice as possible, and we are (and will remain) here to support families to find suitable alternatives.”

The charity is working with relevant authorities to identify pre-school or nursery alternatives for any affected children who aren’t starting school in September. This includes some spaces at Challengers’ Farnham Pre-school, which some of the affected parents have agreed to transfer over to.

In addition, two local nurseries have been in contact offering places for affected children, as well as jobs for staff, so the charity is confident it will be able to help place everyone who needs a service.

Challengers will be providing ongoing support through The Hub – the charity’s community support offering which provides free support and advice to all families, regardless of whether or not they use Challengers’ services. This includes events and workshops that aim to help parent carers feel better connected and less isolated, as well as one-to-one sessions to help with SEND-specific issues. They also run free family fun days at their locations in Guildford and Farnham.

The charity has confirmed that the closure will only affect their Guildford pre-school, and that all other Challengers services will operate as normal. The last running day for Guildford pre-school will be Monday July 22nd.

The Hub


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