A pre-school which has served hundreds of children and parents in and around Thornton Heath for half a century is being forced to close because of the way childcare vouchers are funded.

As the Parchmore Methodist Church and Community Centre celebrates its 50th anniversary it will be tinged with great sadness with the closure of its ‘happy and popular’ pre-school.

The value of childcare vouchers does not cover all the costs of running the school resulting in the church having to subsidise the much loved facility by £34,000 over the last two to three years.

 Rev Nadine Wilkinson explained that while Thornton Heath, in the north, is one of most deprived parts of Croydon, the borough as a whole is quite wealthy.

This mean that while for instance a comparable pre-school in Camden would be apportioned  £10 per hour, a Thornton Heath pre school gets just  £4.63 per hour  leaving a huge shortfall.

Rev  Wilkinson and staff  have worked ‘very hard’ to make ends meet but it has not been possible to raise enough funding to pay all  of the bills making the pre school ‘financially unviable’.

Rev Wilkinson described how the decision had been “very painful and very difficult for the church council.’ 

The last day will be Thursday July 19 and will be a ‘sad day’ particularly  for staff, many of who started out as parents, and have worked at the pre school for 25 years.

The pre school has taken pride in offering places for children with special needs. The church is working closely with parents and Croydon Early years to help find places in September suitable for the present 35 intakes needs.

The church goes on to say:“The school has been an integral part of the church and local community for many years and it’s with great sadness that the pre-school will be closing.

“We understand the effect this will have on families and staff and have communicated openly and honestly throughout the process. The loyalty and commitment of the members of staff directly affected by this decision are recognised and respected and we wish to offer help and support to those involved.”

In a letter to parents from Emma Payne, Pre-School manager and Rev Wilkinson parents are told: “The well being of all the children attending Parchmore Pre-school remains most important to us and your child’s learning will not be affected in any way.” 

TO read about the Parchmore story and anniversary celebrations.