Dr Dan Poulter has called on authorities to work together to help Ipswich-based Highfield Nursery School and Children's Centre to expand.
Rated Outstanding by Ofsted, this popular nursery school and children's centre, on Chesterfield Drive, Ipswich, is a valuable lifeline to all the families who use it. As well as providing outstanding childcare and early-years provision, the centre is also a teaching school, showcasing the very best that Suffolk has to offer, enabling other providers around the country to come to Suffolk for their continued professional development. It has also been designated a Research School, one of only 22 in the country
However, as a nursery school, Highfield is running at full capacity and bursting at the seams. Every inch of space is being used creatively, to the extent of the staff kitchen being utilised for certain activities. While the quality of care and teaching remains outstanding and the children continue to thrive, the nursery and children's centre simply needs to secure bigger premises.
Immediately next door to the nursery is Chesterfield Drive GP Surgery; the GP practice is soon to relocate into the new "super surgery" being developed on Norwich Road and the nursery is already in talks with both Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council to acquire the Chesterfield Road site when it is vacated. Dr Poulter has now written to Suffolk County Council asking for their commitment to support Highfield Nursery.
Dr Poulter said "Following a recent visit to Highfield Children's Centre and Nursery, I was impressed by the commitment, creativity and enthusiasm of the Senior Leadership Team and the staff in ensuring the very best for the young children who use the facilities. It's clear to see that the building simply isn't big enough and this outstanding nursery school, despite its best efforts to exploit every possible creative use of space, requires bigger premises.
"With the GP surgery due to relocate soon, the perfect solution is close at hand. Acquiring the site would enable Highfield to cope with increased demand for places, and also to create a brand-new integrated family therapeutic centre, and alternative provision for children with emotional and social difficulties. I hope that working together, we can find a workable solution to help Highfield get the new facilities that they need and deserve."
Lil Newton, Headteacher at Highfield Nursery School and Children's Centre, said: "We have squeezed every ounce of value out of the space we currently have, but we really are now in need of new space. I welcome the support of Dr Poulter, and really hope we can now work together with the local councils to help ensure Suffolk leads the way in early years integrated provision."
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