Westhill playgroup to close this year

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A Donside playgroup will close this summer after more than 40 years of serving the community.

Westhill Old School Playgroup, which is run by Aberdeenshire Council, will shut in June as part of the local authority’s streamlining of pre-school nursery services.

The cutbacks in pre-school provision were announced over a year ago, when the council revealed it could no longer afford to fund all its playgroups.

A review recommended school nursery places be filled up before funding of playgroup places.

Around fifty children attend the playgroup, which is located in the town’s former school building.

Aberdeenshire Council said its review of early years’ services was carried out in 2010 to bring into line with Scottish Government guidance, and findings would be implemented “working with parents at every stage” and support and advice would be available to any affected playgroup that wished to move to independent status.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of lifelong learning and leisure John Harding said: “An extensive review of our early years service was carried out to develop a sustainable, effective and consistent framework.

“This will meet the needs of young children and families across Aberdeenshire and ensure all needs are catered for, whilst using resources efficiently.

“We have consulted widely with staff, parents and trade unions throughout the process of the review and when we have been delivering changes to move early years provision into school settings.

“We also considered demographic and local data and I would like to reassure parents that there are places for every child in Westhill.

“Where staff have been affected by changes we have worked closely with them to look at opportunities and solutions with support from the council’s HR team, this may provide new roles within school settings, redeployment or voluntary redundancy as the very last resort.”