Dollis Valley’s nursery school to close

Written by  Sunday, 22 February 2015 11:45
Mark and Wendy Oliver beside the temporary classrooms of Valley Pre-School Mark and Wendy Oliver beside the temporary classrooms of Valley Pre-School
Valley Pre-School, a community-run nursery for children on the Dollis Valley estate, is appealing to Barnet Council for a three-month stay of execution of a notice to quit its temporary premises.

Unless the council grants a reprieve, 15 two- to five-year-olds will be without a pre-school place for the summer term because temporary classrooms in Rossiter Fields have to be vacated by 30 March to make way for the new Dollis Valley housing redevelopment.

Valley Pre-School is also renewing its appeal to the council to find new premises for the start of the autumn term, otherwise it will have nowhere to go.

Mark Oliver, chair of the voluntary board of trustees, says their plight is the culmination of a string of broken promises to protect community-based services on the estate.

“We seem to have exhausted every possible option and we can only appeal to local people to recognise the value of our work and to join us in demanding that Barnet Council honour repeated assurances that our future would be safeguarded and that we would be able to continuing offering pre-school education.”

“There are also sorts of options –
if only we could get someone to listen."

Valley Pre-School, established 37 years ago, was promised it would be found a permanent home in 2013 when it was required to move from premises beside the former Barnet South Community Centre next to the Co-Operative supermarket."

Temporary classrooms were then established in Terrapin buildings in Rossiter Fields, but the undertaking to move Valley back to the new community centre being built in Hammond Close was broken when the developers decided to put the provision of a nursery school out to commercial tender.

“Unfortunately our bid was not accepted and now we find we have to be out of Rossiter Fields by 30 March and we have nowhere else to go."

Smiles for the camera at the Valley Pre-School’s open day. L to R: Luke, Erim and their mother Mrs Sarah Mulvihill and Mrs Wendy Oliver, the longest serving member of staffSmiles for the camera at the Valley Pre-School’s open day. L to R: Luke, Erim and their mother Mrs Sarah Mulvihill and Mrs Wendy Oliver, the longest serving member of staff“A privately run nursery can’t begin operating until the autumn at the earliest, and is hardly likely to meet the demand, given that there will soon be 200 extra houses on the estate,” said Mr Oliver.

His mother Mrs Wendy Oliver, the longest-serving member of staff, said two years ago she would willingly have tied herself to the fence outside Hammond Close and refused to leave if there had been any inkling that assurances would not be honoured.

“We have ten children who are due to start school in the autumn and they now face the summer months without any chance of pre-school education."

“Every suggestion we make gets knocked back by Barnet Council. There are also sorts of options – if only we could get someone to listen."

“We could easily use part of the vacant Marie Foster home in Wood Street; Barnet Cricket Club’s former clubhouse is empty; and there is spare land on the Dollis Valley estate adjacent to Barnet Lane, where temporary classrooms could easily be housed.”

Valley Pre-School, which is run on a not-for-profit basis, offers places for two- to five-year-olds benefiting from the government scheme for 15 hours a week free nursery education.

The £3.40 an hour it receives per child pays for five members of staff, who have now had to be issued with redundancy notices.

Mrs Oliver, who has been at the nursery for 35 years, was presented with a life time achievement award by the Mayor of Barnet, Councillor Hugh Rayner, at a ceremony earlier in February.  

Her son said the trustees thought it ironic that with one hand the council was only too ready to commend community work but with the other refused to either listen or help.

“Barnet Council acknowledge there is demand for two nurseries on the Dollis Valley estate.

They keep saying they are looking for alternative premises because they value what we do but the reality is we have to quit these premises within five weeks.”

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6 comments

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 24 February 2015 21:11 posted by Rosanna

    I have been volunteering at Dollis Valley Pre-School and what I have noticed during my time there is that the nursery is a much needed community facility on the Dollis Valley estate. The children love going to nursery so much that they sometimes cry when it is time to leave! Without the nursery these children will have fallen behind their peers by the time they have to enter primary school in September. We need more spaces and facilities in Barnet that are run on a not-for-profit basis because they seek to put the community before making money. The nursery closing is part of the social cleansing we are seeing happening throughout Barnet. Barnet council need to stand up and put the people of the borough before developers interests!

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 25 February 2015 00:01 posted by Mark

    Fantastic article by The Barnet Society after they visited during last week's Open Days - Thorough, accurate and direct. Just what is needed at this moment...

    Please make your views known by leaving a comment at the end of the article on their site, as this will demonstrate to Barnet as a whole what this issue means to the local community.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 26 February 2015 06:59 posted by Amy Gray

    I went to dollis valley pre-school when I was 2. Wendy looked after me and my brother, this place does not deserve to close after 37 years of pure sucssess and 35 of those was by Wendy. Barnet council are ridiculous to close this nursery and it will hurt a lot of children and ex children including me that attended this nursery. I met my best friend here still to date. Please barnet council think about placing them somewhere else.

  • Comment Link Friday, 27 February 2015 09:11 posted by Kevin Courtney

    I am horrified to learn of the plans to evict this pre-school from its premises after 37 years providing high-quality, child-centred nursery provision to the residents of Dollis Valley Estate in Barnet. The fact that the premises are to be handed over to a private provider simply adds insult to injury – nursery education should not come at a price. The value of excellent pre-school provision cannot be underestimated and the NUT is proud to have fought long and hard for the principle of high quality state-funded nursery provision. I wish you well in your vital campaign to keep this nursery where it should stay – within the community and serving the young people of Dollis Valley Estate.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 03 March 2015 11:55 posted by Sarah mulvihill

    As a parent of a child who currently attends valley nursery it is such a shame that the council have no other property to let the nursery move into and continue for another 37 years!!! This is not JUST a nursery, it is somewhere we can leave our children without worrying about them and knowing they are being VERY well looked after. To find a nursery like this is hard and to close it down to replace with a private large company is dusgusting. Maybe my daughter would settle into another nursery?? Why should she have to??
    We will fight for our nursery and my daughter will continue to attend right till the end and IF and when I need to move her it will be a very sad time.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 12 September 2015 22:50 posted by Fatima THomas

    Saturday 12 of September 2015. 22.23, by Fatima Thomas.
    I was a volunteer at the Valley Pre-School in 2005, during my time there, I witness the love from one special woman and manager of that precious nursery, Wendy Oliver, she a dour those children, she treat them like her own children, and she care for them individually, she treat her staff with love and respect, she was always introducing different up to date equptment, toys, materials for the children, we had story time, snacks time playtime, one to one with the children, I learnt everything about early years in that beautiful nursery, To day I work with children services, with children in care, I truly miss Wendy and the Valley Pre-school, horrified to read about the plan to evict this lovely nursery, I am pleading with those in authority, please keep this nursery in the community, it will benefit the children and there parents.

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