Parents battling for child care group

WORRIED parents faced with the closure of an Ipswich out-of-hours club are today desperately trying to set up a replacement group before they are faced with nowhere to leave their children.

WORRIED parents faced with the closure of an Ipswich out-of-hours club are today desperately trying to set up a replacement group before they are faced with nowhere to leave their children.

Some parents are so anxious about losing the out of school hours care for their children at St Helen's School that they have considered moving them to other schools.

Up to 40 primary age children could be affected by the closure of the Rhymes Out-of-School Club and some parents fear they have no other option but to move them to schools where care is offered before and after school.

A number of parents affected by the October 22 closure held a meeting with the school's headteacher Philip Golding, school governors and Suffolk County Council representatives this week in a bid to find a solution.


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There is support among the parents to establish a new club at the school, or in a community building nearby, but Larissa Hutson, a trainee solicitor from Martlesham, said she had doubts whether that option would work.

Mrs Hutson and her husband David are considering moving their six-year-old daughter to a school where out-of-school-hours care is offered.

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"It's a terrible thing to have to put my daughter through (but) I just can't see any other solution," she said.

"We have no other alternative."

Rhymes, which also runs nurseries in Martlesham Heath and Kesgrave, sent letters to parents earlier this month alerting them to its decision to close the club after six years at the Woodbridge Road school.

Owner Marilyn Grant said the facilities at the school did not offer enough storage space but indicated the company was searching for a new base near the school.

This week she revealed she was not confident that would happen.

"Having tried previously, I'm not under any illusions that we would find anything. In that area it is difficult," she said.

Fiona Smith, whose seven-year-old son Ben uses the club, said she was hopeful the parents could find a solution, possibly by using a nearby church to establish a new out-of-hours club.

"I feel we need to find a decent premises and we need to find a decent provider," Mrs Smith, of Woodbridge Road, Ipswich, said.

"What we need to do if Rhymes aren't going to offer it and I don't think the parents can, obviously we need to find another provider."

The parents plan to hold another meeting at the school on Tuesday in the hope of developing the idea for a new club.

St Helen's School headteacher Philip Golding remained confident the school could find an alternative to the Rhymes club.

"I am pleased and grateful that very considerable efforts are being made by the school, LEA and parents to replace Rhymes and I am confident that appropriate before school and after school provision will be in place after half-term," he said.

Have you had trouble getting before and after school care for your child? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk.

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