An 'outstanding' not-for-profit preschool in Diggle which is 'adored' by parents has reportedly been given a matter of months before it is forced to close its doors for good.

Diggle Dandelions Pre-School on Sam Road which sits within the grounds of Diggle Primary School has been teaching youngsters between the ages two and five for more than 13 years, during which it has been continually graded 'outstanding' by the education watchdog.

However, the preschool is at risk of what bosses describe as "sudden forced closure" as they were informed in a meeting last week that the nursery would have to close on July 18 this year.

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Speaking to The Oldham Times, managers Jenna Evans and Susan Rushworth, said they were "heartbroken", "saddened" and "shocked" by the decision which they say is "completely out of our control".

Explaining how it happened, Ms Evans said governors at Diggle School met the preschool on Thursday, March 21, for a 'consultation' on opening their own school nursery.

Earlier this week, the headteacher of Diggle School, Sarah Newton, announced the plans and said the school is "very excited to be able to fulfil parental wishes by creating our own Diggle School Nursery" which will be "staffed by existing early years qualified Diggle School staff".

When contacted by The Oldham Times about the preschool's concerns, Mrs Newton said: "We welcome any feedback on our Diggle School Nursery proposal, both positive and negative.

"We invite anybody who feels they would like to comment on our proposal, to email the school directly."

However, plans for a new nursery would mean the current Dandelions team must leave the premises this summer.

Ms Evans said: "We're still absorbing the news. It's horrible.

"We've been given our notice - it wasn't a consultation. 

"They said it's something that they've been thinking about for some time and that's what they want to do going forward.

"I'm just in a lot of shock. I'm upset, just trying to take in exactly what they said.

"We're not-for-profit and staying open as we are is in the best interests for the parents, but unfortunately they've made this decision without a consultation with any parent."

The nursery bosses said they are stuck about where to go now and have a lot of "unanswered questions", such as where the children and staff members will go when Dandelions shuts its doors.

Ms Evans added: "We'll all be out of a job and unfortunately for two of my staff, they'll be out of two jobs because they also work for Diggle School on the before and after school club and as a lunchtime staff supervisor."

She also said parents are equally "devastated" by the news, which they broke in a letter and on social media on Friday (March 22).

Dozens of parents took to social media to voice their upset by the proposed closure, including Joanne Whiteley who said the team "are like an extension of the family" while Dilys Redfearn wrote: "You'll be a tough act to follow."

Natalie Heptonstall also praised Dandelions for taking the news with "such integrity and professionalism" before adding: "Such a loss to the wider Saddleworth community."

A former member of staff, Rachel Hutchinson, also said: "I had the best couple of years working at Diggle Dandelions and can honestly say you were both the most caring, nurturing, glittery souls. What a loss."

"There must be something we can all do about this?", another concerned parent wrote.

The preschool and playgroup, which is classed as a community interest company, keeps costs as low as possible for parents while promising outstanding care for the children, Ms Evans explained.

She continued: "There are not many outstanding settings left - you're not going to get an outstanding provision for our prices.

"We've got such a large history. Every time we get Ofsted coming in we get parents, not just from the setting now but ones from previous years coming back because they want to speak to the inspectors.

"I don't like confrontation, we just want what's right for us.

"We've worked so hard, everybody knows that money is a hardship right now.

"I'm devastated, I'm upset, I'm trying to save my business.

"We just want our facility to keep going."

While the team remain hopeful for a resolution, Dandelions have also vowed their final day will be a "day of celebration".

Ms Evans added: "We are proud to have provided the community with Diggile with a not-for-profit, community interest, affordable and outstanding early years service for more than 13 years."

When contacted by The Oldham Times, Ofsted said it does not comment on individual providers but Oldham Council has promised it will work with the team.

The spokesperson said: “The council will support Diggle Dandelions as an established pre-school to look at the options that are available to them, and continue to provide advice and guidance to any families affected.”

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