Closure threat over popular pre-school

Youngsters from Bowland Montessori Pre-School learning road safety tips a couple of years ago from school crossing patrol officer Jacqueline Devine.
Youngsters from Bowland Montessori Pre-School learning road safety tips a couple of years ago from school crossing patrol officer Jacqueline Devine.

A Clitheroe pre-school may be forced to close its doors after a recent Ofsted inspection deemed its offering “inadequate”.

Bowland Montessori Pre-school, which is based at St James’ CE Primary School on Greenacre Street and run by leader Nancy Bigmore, is based on the popular Montessori model of education which encourages self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play.

After six-week notice that funding would be withdrawn by Lancashire County Council, parents and supporters of the pre-school set up an online petition which has so far attracted more than 650 signatures.

Katie McLeod, mum to Sawrey who attends the pre-school and who set up the petition said: “We sent our son to the pre-school because, as parents, we wanted him to have as many life experiences as possible before starting primary school.

“We chose it because it’s so different from everywhere else and that’s what we loved about it.

“The outdoors activities are perfect for the children and it was exactly what we were looking for.

“The parents are all so shocked with the Ofsted findings, knowing what we love about the setting.

“The Ofsted report seems very harsh and is very focused on the negatives, with little or no praise for the wonderful aspects of the what we believe is a wonderful early years provision.”

The government’s current stance when a setting is deemed inadequate is to withdraw funding within a practical time frame, usually around the six months mark.

In the case of Bowland Montessori, Lancashire County Council have notified the pre-school that they will remove funding after a period of four weeks, meaning that it would be forced to close around mid May.

Leader of the pre-school Nancy Bigmore said: “I have been a teacher for more than 28 years and I am confident that the pre-school has produced happy, confident and well-behaved children.

“I feel that the pre-school is now even better than it was last time it was inspected.”