Spotlight on…Falmai Reay

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Former owner of Elfin Nursery Pre-School in Cheltenham

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Falmai Reay

WHAT LED TO THE CLOSURE OF YOUR NURSERY AFTER 32 YEARS?

The last two years have seen a drop in numbers, slowly at first, but as the 30 hours started to kick in I realised what was happening. The money received is insufficient to cover costs, let alone higher qualifications. Two-year-olds are expensive due to ratios and the current level of funding makes it impossible for us to provide children with the quality of staff they deserve.

HOW DO YOU FEEL?

Very sad, as it has been my life’s work. I have loved every moment. I am also a little angry that there is virtually no support for settings such as mine. We do all that is expected of us but just have to struggle on.

HOW DID STAFF AND PARENTS REACT?

Of course they were sad for me, but they understood. I went round different pre-schools and managed to acquire employment for my staff, while places for children were found at other settings. I could relax a little in the knowledge I looked after them to the end. Parents were so supportive and threw a surprise party.

HOW DO YOU WANT THE GOVERNMENT TO ADDRESS THESE ISSUES?

I want them to listen to our cries about what is happening right now. Only working families are eligible for 30 hours, so help isn’t reaching the families that need it most. It’s time for action, and now. There must be more funding.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS AS A NURSERY OWNER?

A consistently Good setting with an amazing Outstanding period. We were an inclusive setting and I’m proud to have helped many children go on to mainstream school, working with professionals along the way. We made so many happy memories each year.

WHAT’S NEXT?

I’m volunteering my services to struggling settings if they want advice. I’m also aware there’s a gap in the market for a mum and baby group and for somewhere new mums can talk about looking after a baby. I shall endeavour to work on these issues.

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