A group of outraged parents say the decision to strip Pinocchio’s Nursery of its partnership status has been motivated by ‘cynical cost-cutting measures’.
Two weeks ago, East Dunbartonshire Council opted to withdraw the funding partnership with the Bishopbriggs nursery, sparking anger among parents.
In a letter to the Herald, they say they are concerned about the future of their children’s pre-school education and raised doubts over the entire procurement process.
The letter read: “We absolutely do not want to move our children from Pinocchio’s nursery. Some of the children have been there since babies and they are very happy.
“We believe that the decision to withdraw Pinocchio’s partnership status is based on a grading from the Care Inspectorate.
“We have asked the council to clarify which inspection report this is based on, as we are led to believe that the grading used is out of date and the nursery have been working very hard to improve on this.
“We would be interested to know the finer detail of this particular aspect, as we have never had any issue with the quality of care provided by the nursery.
“We are also looking to clarify what happens to the funding for our children if we are unable to find an alternative childcare provider.
“We believe we have a right as hardworking parents to know what happens to this funding.”
The parents group also argue the council were slow to inform them of their decision, and did not invite their input until very late in the process.
With its status withdrawn, Pinocchio’s will no longer be able to accept children funded through the council.
However, official guidelines state that the council are obliged to ensure an adequate provision of nursery places in the local area.
The group added: “Given the lack of information surrounding this decision, and subsequent press coverage around other nurseries losing their partnerships, it is difficult to accept that this is anything other than cynical cost cutting by the council that is fundamentally threatening the continuity and quality of preschool care our children receive.
“It also has a broader demoralising effect on the staff who work there, and we are extremely concerned about the effect this will have on the nursery’s financial wellbeing.
“The owners have kindly offered to take on the burden of the council funding shortfall in the short term.”
The council insists all legal regulations were adhered to and say they remain committed to providing early years education in the area.
Jacqui MacDonald, chief education officer at the council, said: “We understand the concerns of parents and everyone associated with the nursery in the current situation.
“In its latest procurement exercise, the council is required to ensure the legal regulations are applied consistently to all tenders.
“The quality of provision is very important in early years and is the main criteria when assessing tenders.
“Twenty one providers were successful and are in partnership with the council. The required numbers of funded places to meet our anticipated demand are available.
“We remain committed to providing flexibility and choice for parents when they are choosing early years’ provision for their child. We provide this within the local authority and with our partner providers.
“We will continue to provide support and advice to parents on the different options available to them within their local area.”