PERTURBED parents claim they are being kept in the dark by Halesowen College over the future of the facility’s popular nursery.

The News

reported last month

that the nursery - which has been open for 20 years - was in danger of closure unless the college is able to rent it out to an external provider willing to take over its operation.

The deadline for such applications has now passed and parents say they are stuck between hoping it stays open or being forced to look elsewhere with no information forthcoming from the college.

Halesowen College, meanwhile, says there have been ‘several expressions of interest’ from firms but adds that ‘commercial sensitivity’ prevents them from discussing the matter with parents.

One parent, Mark, 37, whose three-year-old daughter attends the nursery, said: “The college has not updated us with how many visits there have been, how many companies have requested financial details, etc.

“This information is critical to giving us the opportunity to act appropriately when deciding who we should trust to care for our children.

“Their failure means that I must consider removing my child from the college’s nursery and make arrangements at an alternative, just in case the college nursery closes.

“We need to work out how likely it is [that the nursery will stay open] as should we need to relocate our daughter, we need to find a local nursery with capacity and we’re not prepared to send her somewhere that we feel is substandard.”

Mark also criticised the lack of advertisement of the nursery, insisting he believes that is partly why the college says it is ‘no longer able to maintain’ the facility in its ‘current form’.

He added: “There are claims that the nursery numbers have dropped, but I was recently told by a young mum that she wasn’t told of the existence of the nursery when applying to colleges.

“Some years ago the nursery had an Ofsted rating of ‘Requires Improvement’ but this improved to ‘Good’.

“No sign was erected, and there is still nothing to tell potential students of the fact that there is a nursery, yet alone that it’s a good one!”

Jacquie Carman, college vice principal, said: “Halesowen College is currently seeking proposals from external early years providers to continue to offer a nursery facility on the Whittingham site.

“We received several expressions of interest, met with providers and gave them a tour of the nursery.

“During this selection process we are unable to provide information about the proposals given commercial sensitivity.

“However, we will communicate with parents and staff as soon as possible once all proposals are received into college. In the interim we are happy to discuss the changes to the nursery individually with parents.”