‘We are devastated’: Parents hit out at nursery after ‘unnecessary’ closure

Parents have said they are “devastated” after being left to find emergency childcare following the sudden closure of a Streatham-based nursery two weeks ago.

The Streatham Youth and Community Trust (SYCT), the charity which runs Sprig Ludens Outdoor Nursery in Abercairn Road, Streatham Vale, told parents the nursery would close with immediate effect on March 20.

Kelly Dolan, 35, of Streatham Vale, whose three-year-old daughter attended the nursery, said: “My daughter hasn’t had a full night’s sleep in two weeks since the closure. She’s completely lost her routine and is extremely distressed.”

Ms Dolan said she has had to take leave from her job at a law firm to look after her daughter.

She said: “There’s a shortage of nursery places at the moment and at short notice it’s impossible to find anything.”

SYCT said the closure was the result of the Government’s “failure” to provide funding to cover the costs involved in free childcare.

Sprig Ludens nursery in Streatham (Picture: John Ham, SYCT)

Sylvia Tijmstra, chief executive of SYCT, said: “The nursery was running in a deficit and this was likely to worsen with the impact of recently-announced below-inflation rises in funding rates and an over 10 per cent increase in the real living wage coming into effect from April 1, among other factors.”

But parents have accused the charity of “poor and misleading communication”.

Ms Dolan said: “We were given 24 hours’ notice of a meeting in February when SYCT told us they would be closing the nursery in March, with no clear reasons.

“We raised concerns about childcare and eventually they said they would stay open until the summer. 

“Parents took their names off waiting lists at other nurseries because of the reassurance and then suddenly the nursery closed with no notice.”

A petition set up by parents and Streatham residents calling for the nursery to be reopened has already received 766 signatures.

A spokesman for Lambeth council said: “We are disappointed at SYCT’s decision to close the Sprig Ludens nursery. Lambeth council has worked with the trust to find solutions to the funding issues so as to enable high quality delivery of the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum.”

The local authority said it would work with Merton and Croydon councils to find replacement nursery places for families in their area.

Green Party councillor for Streatham St Leonard’s ward, Scott Ainslie, said: “It really is not clear to me or the parents, what the real reason for closing down this nursery with immediate effect was.
“The explanation is murky at best and that’s not fair on the children or the parents.”
Sprig Ludens, an outdoor focused nursery in Streatham Vale (Picture: John Ham, SYCT)

Parents have also raised concerns over SYCT’s management of finances.

For the past 10 months, Ms Dolan has donated £100 to the charity and signposted to fund an outdoor shelter, tuckshop and heating at the nursery. 

She said: “Other parents were doing the same to try and support the charity, that’s thousands of pounds and none of us have been refunded.”

Ms Dolan said her payments were scheduled for each month and £100 has been donated for both March and April – after the closure.

She said: “I’m at a financial loss, trying to find childcare I can’t afford.” 

SYCT denied these claims and said the charity has committed to refunding the parents.

Al Walmsley, chairman of the board of trustees at SYCT, said: “We are heartbroken that we no longer have the resources to keep the nursery open, but we cannot continue to provide a service if we are not satisfied that we can do so safely and to the high standards the community rightly expects of us.”

To find sign the save Sprig Ludens Nursery petition visit

Pictured top: From left, Kelly Dolan with her daughter, Charlie, and Green Party councillor for Streatham St Leonard’s ward Scott Ainslie (Picture: Sprig Ludens parents)

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