Penwortham playgroup could be forced to close because only three children are enrolled for the new school year

A Penwortham playgroup is facing closure - because it only has three children enrolled on its books for its next term.

By Ellie Double
Wednesday, 23rd March 2022, 12:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd March 2022, 4:33 pm

Middleforth Playgroup, based in St Leonard's Church Hall, on Marshalls Brow, was set up almost 50 years ago but could shut unless it can attract more parents to sign up.

The playschool operates between 9.15am and 12.15pm on weekdays, taking children aged two and a half up to when they begin primary school.

It has capacity for up to 18 children and currently has 14 children attending but most will start school in September.

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Middleforth Playgroup is struggling for numbers and saying the group is at risk of closing

The school will need 10 to 12 students to be able to remain open, Chairperson of the committee, Cathie Carr said: “Obviously three children is not enough to keep it running so they would have to close which would just be a terrible shame because it’s charity and they’re just lovely people and the children really enjoy it,” she said.

“We’ve started a just giving page and things like that but obviously even if we make the money, it’s still not worth running it with only three children so we really need to get some more people through the door.”

Cathie’s own son attended Middleforth Playgroup, something which she said built his confidence massively.

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Middleforth Playgroup has been serving the community for almost 50 years

She added: “They help them to socialise, and they help them have a bit of independence. My son went there, and he was very shy when he started, he was much more outgoing and they teach them all sorts of things, they play all the roleplaying games.

“It turns them into more rounded little human beings and it’s so nice to see them all playing together.”

The nursery itself has been open 48 years, where “many years of Penwortham children have passed through the doors and remember it fondly”

The staff at the nursery have been there a significant amount of time too.

The playgroup only has three children enrolled for the September term

“The four ladies that work there now, one of them would be her 30 th year next year, one’s been there 25, and the other two have been there 20 I think so it’s the same four ladies that have brought up loads of local kids.”

Cathie says the staff’s dedication is second to none, and the closure of the nursery would be devastating to them.

Though this coming year is so small that the playschool may have to shut down, Cathie believes that things could start looking up.

“I think if we can just get through this year, I think it would be alright after that.

The group has capacity for 18 children

“I think there’s a lack of children in general to be honest and I think once they get into the next year, that’ll be the year of the lockdown babies so there’ll be lots of them!”

The UK Government provide 15 free hours of childcare per week for children aged between three and four, which parents can use at Middleforth Playgroup. Parents/Guardians can also pay per session.

The nursery has an “open-door policy so anybody is free to come down and have a look anytime between 9:15 and 12:15, you don’t need to make an appointment” meaning prospective parents and students can pop in to have a look around any time they’re open, or

alternatively call Donna on 07866 527729.

To donate to the group here.