‘We are heartbroken’: Streatham nursery announces closure after funding fails to meet costs

A Streatham nursery has announced it will close due to lack of funding needed to maintain a “good quality” of provision for children.

Sprig Ludens Outdoor Nursery in Abercairn Road, Streatham Vale, has provided affordable childcare focused on outdoor learning since 2018.

The Streatham Youth and Community Trust (SYCT), the charity which runs Sprig Ludens, said the decision was the result of the Government’s “failure” to provide funding to cover the real costs involved in free child care.

The closure comes one year on from Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s 2023 spring budget, in which he promised 30 hours of “free” childcare for eligible under-fives by September 2025.

But SYCT said the hourly rate set by the Government for free places does not meet the cost needed. The financial strain left SYCT unable to deliver after school clubs, sports and holiday provision without incurring a significant deficit, the charity said.

Sylvia Tijmstra, chief executive of SYCT, said: “Central government funding for free childcare has not kept pace with the rising costs of delivery. 

Sprig Luden’s, an outdoor focused nursery in Streatham Vale (Picture: John Ham, SYCT)

“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 1st April, among other factors.”

Initially the charity notified parents and carers of their decision to close at the end of the summer term, in July. But, last week SYTC raised concerns with Lambeth council and Ofsted about the quality of the their current provision.

The charity said the funding difficulties and current recruitment crisis in the early years childcare sector meant the nursery could not meet Ofsted requirements in its Early Years Foundation Stage. 

Al Walmsley, Chair of the Board of Trustees at SYCT, said: “It is with a heavy heart that we announce the closure of Sprig Ludens outdoor nursery.

“We understand the impact this decision will have on the families and children in our community. 

“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.”

Lambeth council has confirmed it will work with Merton and Croydon councils and parents to find replacement nursery places in their area.

A spokesman from the Department for Education said: “We are confident in the strength of our childcare market to deliver the largest ever expansion in childcare in England’s history, and we are already seeing providers looking to expand their placements across the country.

“The Institute for Fiscal Studies has independently reported that the average funding rates for two-year-olds and under 2s paid by government from April 2024 are projected to be substantially higher than the market rate paid by parents last year, and we have committed to further increases to provider rates for the next two years backed by an estimated £500 million.”

Despite the nursery closure, SYCT said it will continue to serve the Streatham Vale Park community with afterschool, holiday, and sports provision in the park.

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

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One thought on “‘We are heartbroken’: Streatham nursery announces closure after funding fails to meet costs

  • This story is not factually correct I’m afraid. Sprig Ludens Nursery receives a rent free space and was not operating at a deficit and the board and incompetent CEO did absolutely nothing to try and fundraise to keep it open. After committing to stay open until at least July, they closed the nursery with no warning to staff or parents and against the advice of Ofsted and Lambeth council. The CEO said in a meeting with parents that her only regret was “that I didn’t close the nursery sooner”


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