‘We’ve been left in the lurch’

Westerton Primary School, afterschool care closing down'Photo by Emma Mitchell'9/10/12
Westerton Primary School, afterschool care closing down'Photo by Emma Mitchell'9/10/12

Parents of pupils at Westerton Primary School received a ‘bombshell’ letter recently telling them the after school care club was going to shut.

Damien Henderson, whose six-year-old daughter, Nina, is a P3 pupil at Westerton Primary, was shocked to get the letter last Tuesday, which told him the club would be closing and that parents should find alternative childcare arrangements as soon as possible.

Mr Henderson, from Westerton, Bearsden, said: “They’ve not left us with any alternative.

“The letter wasn’t clear whether there would be childcare provided the next day and it’s still not clear if it will be provided next week.

“It’s obviously very distressing for all the parents affected. Arranging childcare is not easy, especially at short notice.

“The company which runs the after school club (Small World) has not been returning our calls and the nearby after school club at Colquhoun Park Primary doesn’t have space for all our children.

“We’ve been concerned about the standard of care at Westerton after school for years and we’ve highlighted these concerns with East Dunbartonshire Council and the care inspectorate.

“It seems ludicrous that a company that’s had poor inspection reports was allowed to carry on to the point that it has pulled out without any regard for making sure the children are cared for when they leave.”

The Small World after school club is owned by Depak Bali and his wife Anita.

Their website claims: “At Small World Nursery we ensure the needs of all our children are our main priority.

“Our main aim is to provide the best possible care for your child, within a happy, homely environment.”

However, one of their facilities - Hillhead after-school club in the west end of Glasgow - also closed recently and Small World@Quay in Glasgow shut earlier this year.

The letter to parents, which is signed by Anita Bali, reads: “It is with deep regret that we have to inform you that we will be closing our after school services at the school.

“There are a number of issues why we are doing this, but primarily it is because the business is not viable financially.

“The cost of the let has gone up, staffing costs have increased and therefore we have taken this decision.

“We hope to close the service as soon as possible and we ask that you find alternative childcare as soon as possible.”

Head of education for East Dunbartonshire Council, Gordon Currie, said: “The council provide advice and accommodation to providers of aftercare.

“We are currently assisting parents to find new suitable aftercare nearby - anyone who needs advice should call the Child Information Service on 0141 578 8060.”

The Herald tried to contact Small World, but they were unavailable to provide a comment before we went to press.