A furious row has broken out over claims that parents of children in a Linlithgow nursery were not made aware of plans to close it down.
The Journal and Gazette broke the news last week that Donaldson’s School had issued a press release through an Edinburgh-based PR agency.
It claimed that a ‘restructuring’ of services was necessary and, as part of this process, the nursery – which was lauded by inspectors as being a market leader in its field – was to close at the end of the current session in June.
John Anderson, convenor of the Board of Governors for Donaldson’s School said: “It is always difficult to review peoples’ jobs but, equally, we have a duty of care to the children and young people at Donaldson’s. Their needs are highly specialised and we must ensure we have the expertise necessary to deliver a service that is capable of fulfilling our commitment of care to them, their parents and carers.
“Since the school moved to Linlithgow in 2008, it has evolved and is no longer simply a school for deaf children.
“We must create and develop a team that is fit for purpose in 2015 and for the future.
“We are following a due and fair process in our consultation with staff, trade unions and professional associations and will redeploy staff where we possibly can.
“The school would also like to thank the external agencies who have helped, and particularly West Lothian Council which is working with us to reallocate the children in the nursery.”
A spokeswoman for a newly launched parents’ campaign group said: “Donaldson’s Nursery occupies a special place in the Linlithgow community, offering a nurturing environment in which young children, including those with special needs, can flourish.
“It consistently achieves excellent inspection reports and is praised as an example of best practice by Education Scotland.
“After an expansion this year, the announcement that it is to close this summer was a shock. It would mean a huge loss to the town.”
The group met with board members on Tuesday night in an effort to find a solution which would be workable.
At that meeting a request was made for accounts to be made available after a previous claim suggested the unit was not financially viable.
However, this was refused, with the board suggesting that campaign members submit their proposals for alternative options.
A board spokeswoman said: “The board were prepared to meet a cross section of those affected by their decision to close the nursery facility and we had constructive and helpful talks.”
A West Lothian Council spokesman said that the “wellbeing and best interests of the pupils” remained the loacl authority’s top priority.
But furious parents seemed to disagree.
A petition on website change.org had, at the time of going to press, 271 signatories.
A small sample of comments on that site have been reproduced here.
James Wainwright - I believe that the nursery can remain a centre of excellence and closure is counter productive.
Moray Hamilton - It’s a superb nursery and parents should be able to freely choose it. The ASN children rely on it. Some children wouldn’t be able to cope in normal busy nursery settings.
Thomas Davidson - This is an enormous local asset and its closure would cause an enormous loss. It makes no kind of sense whatsoever to close.
Susan Napier - Having worked in Donaldson’s and leaving only recently, I cannot understand why the nursery, which has scored highly every inspection, is closing. It is staffed by a fantastic team and I was shocked to hear of its closure.
Veronica Borland - Children of all abilities should be given the opportunity to flourish in an environment that is suited to their individual needs.
The petition can be accessed at https://www.change.org/p/to-the-board-of-governors-of-the-donaldson-s-school-trust-reverse-the-decision-to-close-donaldson-s-nursery-in-linlithgow
Meanwhile, a West Lothian Council spokesman said: “The wellbeing and best interests of the pupils remains our main priority and we can assure parents, whose children are affected by the closure, that we have taken all the necessary steps to ensure that a place at a nursery within Linlithgow is available for their child/children.
“We have had regular contact with Donaldson’s and we have written to all parents advising them that a place at their second choice of nursery (if parents gave one on their application form) or at a nursery close to their home has been offered to them.
“For those children living outwith Linlithgow, a place will be offered at a Linlithgow nursery, in line with their parents’ choice of an establishment located in Linlithgow.
“Each of the children funded by West Lothian Council will have a place offered to them in Linlithgow.
“Non-funded (whose parents have placed them at Donaldson’s on a self-funded basis) children can also request a place.
“The School Placement Panel will consider all requests for alternatives together.
“Requests will not be decided on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.
“Parents have until May 25 to contact us if they wish to request an alternative placement.
“Parents have been advised to contact pupil placement if they do not want to accept the place that has been reserved.”
Contact the Pupil Placement team on 01506 280000 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org