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Frustrated parents call for review of pre-schools' merger

PUBLISHED: 08:26 02 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:26 02 October 2019

Costessey Pre-school and St Helen's Pre-school began operating from the same building, Costessey Infant School, in September. Picture: Adrian Judd

Costessey Pre-school and St Helen's Pre-school began operating from the same building, Costessey Infant School, in September. Picture: Adrian Judd

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Parents are accusing a pre-school of a hostile takeover of one of its rivals.

St Helen's Pre-school and Costessey Pre-school started operating from the same building, the village's former infant school, at the start of the new term.

Some parents have raised concerns about how the change has been handled, accusing St Helen's leaders of bullish behaviour and saying parents from Costessey Pre-school have had little say in the process.

Both pre-schools were approached for comment but declined.

Rebecca Woodhouse, whose two-year-old daughter Amelia started at Costessey Pre-school in September, was one of many parents and teachers who attended an extraordinary meeting on September 25 to discuss the merger - at which she alleged parents were hearing the news for the first time.

"They [St Helen's] want to change the name and the uniform and everything, but I have heard so many bad things about St Helen's that I don't want to send my daughter there," she said.

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"As soon as she started settling this has happened so she is going to have to get used to new faces."

Miss Woodhouse, 22, has started a petition to have the merger reviewed which attracted hundreds of signatures in its first day.

"They didn't listen to us before so hopefully they can listen to us this time," she said.

"At the end of the day the teachers [at Costessey Pre-school] love working there and they don't like what is happening."

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: "We have supported both schools to help them explore what options they have, and will continue to support them to find a resolution that works best for the children that attend Costessey and St Helen's.

"However, the final decision on which option to take lies with the committees in consultation with parents."

St Helen's Pre-school moved into the former infant school last month from its base at St Helen's Church Hall, while Costessey Pre-school has always been based at the Beaumont Road site along with its out-of-school club.

The pre-schools' move came as Costessey infant and junior schools merged into the new Costessey Primary School, at the former junior school's expanded site.

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