THE coronavirus is not the only crisis facing some of the district's schools and nurseries, writes Sam Hatherley.

Many have lost out on vital fundraising opportunities and continue to see their budgets deteriorate the longer lockdown lasts.

As previously reported, Compton and Shawford Preschool could be forced to close, having been operating for 42 years.

Committee chairman Nicola Webster said that £2,600 has been raised so far – half of the school's target.

But more and more establishments are turning to the public for help. Kings Worthy Preschool is also looking at an uncertain future.

Manager Olivia Kirkby told the Chronicle: "We closed on March 23 as we could not afford to continue with staff employment for the minimal children we had that were in the categories and wanted to attend.

"We are facing huge financial losses in the wake of the coronavirus crisis and as a result of long-term underfunding, we have been struggling to remain sustainable due to the funding gap for years but we hoped we may be able to survive when the Government stated early years’ providers could access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme whilst continuing to receive local authority funding for the free childcare.

"This was a lifeline for our setting, and we furloughed our team on this basis. However, nearly a month after this guidance was issued and just three days before the scheme opened – we were told that our access to furlough funding would be severely restricted and we ended up receiving 26 per cent furlough rather than 80 per cent.

"Thousands of providers have closed, many more are charging for things that were previously free and now we see the impact this is likely to have on the poorest children in the country.

Taylor Hogan's children who attend the preschool hosted a charity garden sale.

She said: "My son who is one is signed up to start there next April when he is the correct age as we love the preschool dearly and want him to attend there to. They have raised money through a yard sale and also selling cakes all going towards this cause."

Shepherds Down School in Compton, which provides eduction for 158 children with special needs, is suffering from a lack of fundraising.

Co-chairmen Kate Palmer and Justine Campbell said in a statement: "The school has remained open throughout the pandemic, only closing during the May half term week, supporting those parents who are key workers and those children that would find it too disruptive by not having the routine of school.

"Unfortunately, as with so many charities we have not been able to hold our four main charity events this year and as a result we have set up a crowdfunding page."

The school can be supported at:

According to the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), these financial issues fit in with the national picture.

Chief executive Purnima Tanuku said: "A huge amount of work has gone into preparations for nurseries to operate safely and welcome more children from this week. Some really innovative ideas and solutions have been put in place to minimise any risks to children and staff.

"What we are seeing is nurseries and other childcare providers facing increased costs to make these changes and looking at much lower demand than usual for the coming weeks and months.

"It is clearly not sustainable to have almost three quarters of providers running at a loss and most of the rest only just breaking even. The tragedy is that some settings have not been able to re-open and 4 per cent are looking at potential closure in the near future. If this continues more settings are bound to move from making a loss into considering closing as well.

"The Government needs to act now and bring in a recovery and transformation fund to help providers weather this challenging period."