'Heartbreaking' - Ipswich nursery to close for good due to staff shortage

The Willows Park Montessori Nursery, owned by Mrs Sam Sims, is due to close in August to a staff shortage.

The Willows Park Montessori Nursery, owned by Mrs Sam Sims, is due to close in August to a staff shortage. - Credit: Sam Sims

An Ipswich nursery will be closing its doors next month after 20 years, with its owner saying that lack of government funding has led to a critical shortage of early years staff. 

Sam Sims is the owner and founder of the Willows Park Montessori Nursery on Tuddenham Road.

She broke the news to her 22 staff members on Monday evening that the nursery would close on August 31. 

Mrs Sims said: “We advertised recently for nursery staff and did not receive a single application. 

“We know that early years’ staff can go to work in a supermarket and earn more. But without an increase in the government early years funding, we are unable to pay more.” 

Currently, all three- to four-year-olds in England are eligible for 570 hours of government funded childcare per year, usually taken as 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year.  

Mrs Sims, left, with her nursery manager, Lindsey Griffiths. 

Mrs Sims, left, with her nursery manager, Lindsey Griffiths. - Credit: Sam Sims

Mrs Sims said she is heartbroken to have to close the nursery.

Mrs Sims said she is heartbroken to have to close the nursery. - Credit: Sam Sims

The Willow Park Montessori Nursery on Tuddenham Road is cares for children aged from just a few months to five years old.

The Willow Park Montessori Nursery on Tuddenham Road is cares for children aged from just a few months to five years old. - Credit: Sam Sims

Mrs Sims was also concerned at the government’s proposal to increase the ratio of children to early years staff. 

Under current regulations, one adult is required for every four children. A consultation period to change this to five children opened on July 4

Mrs Sims said: “The responsibility on our staff is already massive - and an increase in the ratio will make things even worse. 

Most Read

“We cannot reflect in pay the responsibilities that the staff have on a day-to-day basis.” 

She concluded: “It’s been a heart-breaking decision, after 20 years of caring for hundreds of children and nurturing many talented early years practitioners. 

“There is only so long you can fight these battles, and I don’t think I can fight this battle anymore.” 

Mrs Sims confirmed that her other school, the Meadows Montessori School on Larchcroft Road, would not be affected by this closure. 

A Government spokesperson said: “We are aware of concerns around recruitment and retention and are working with the sector to look further at how we can support providers in this area. 

“As part of this work, we have announced additional funding for local authorities to increase the hourly rates paid to childcare providers.  

“We are also increasing funding to support employers with their costs, investing millions in training for staff working with pre-school children and have set out plans to help providers run their businesses more flexibly.”