Staff at Early Days Daycare Nursery, which is run by Ryhope Infant school, are currently waiting to hear whether they are eligible to keep their pay and conditions if a new provider is found, following a decision to close at the end of July.
The decision, which was taken by the school's governing body, is thought to be sparked by the fact that the school is currently maintained, but is in the process of converting to an academy.
A spokesman for Sunderland City Council said, ‘The nursery is a day care provision which is currently operated by the governing body of the school (although it is separate to the school).
‘Early Days [staff] will have TUPE rights to the new provider... There is an exercise underway to establish which staff are eligible for TUPE transfer.’
Parents have now started a campaign, calling the nursery ‘a fundamental part of the community’, ‘flexible and reasonably priced’ and its closure a ‘huge mistake’.
Michelle Howe, whose petition against the closure has attracted 500 signatures, said, ‘My daughter was at this nursery and enjoyed every second. I feel that early days played a huge part in the confident, personable, polite and eager-to-learn young girl that she is now.’
Councillor Alan Emerson, who will present the petition to a full council meeting in July, says the council has sent out ‘invitations to various organisations inviting them to tender for the provision of daycare services .... Timescales are very tight and replies are required around the end of June with ajudication taking place though July and a start date of 1st September.’
The 43-place nursery, which was rated ‘good’ at its last Ofsted inspection in 2012, provides daycare for birth to 2-year-olds and wraparound provision for 3- to 4-year-olds with a breakfast club and after-school care. There are currently 13 staff including the manager.
The nursery opened in 2006 as part of Ryhope Children’s Centre with Sure Start funding.
The school declined to comment.
The tender can be found here