Minister drops in at county's newest nursery

Children and staff at the county's newest day nursery were joined by a Government Minister for their official opening.

Parliamentary under secretary of state for Early Years Caroline Dinenage MP dropped in at the Old Station Nursery on Oxford Science Park to oversee the ceremonies and discuss childcare provision in Oxfordshire with council representatives.

Meeting demand

The nursery, which opened its doors following a £100,000 refurbishment, will meet growing demand for childcare places in Oxford, providing care for up to 72 children from birth to five years old.

The official opening was part of a wider opportunity for the Minister to learn more about Oxfordshire’s childcare provision, which currently includes 350 early years and childcare providers, 250 schools, many with nursery classes, six nursery schools and 650 childminders.

Caroline Dinenage said: “Making sure our children learn, develop and flourish at this critical time in their lives is vital – I’m privileged to be meeting so many dedicated early years staff who show such passion for their job in my visits around the country.

“Early education is such an important part of making sure all young people are given the tools to achieve their full potential. That’s why we are supporting working parents of three- and four-year olds by doubling our free childcare offer from 15 hours per week to 30, backed by our record investment of £6 billion per year by 2020.”

Welcome opportunity

Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education Steve Harrod, who met with the Minister at the nursery opening, said: “We very much welcomed the opportunity to show her just a snapshot of some of the great things that are happening to provide day care for Oxfordshire’s children.

“It is absolutely vital that children get the best possible start in life, and high-quality early education can be crucial in making a difference to children’s achievements later in school.

“There is a wide range of excellent provision here in Oxfordshire and The Old Station Nursery at Oxford Science Park is a fantastic new addition. We are working closely with nurseries and other providers both to ensure demand for places can continue to be met and that the highest possible standards of education are available to families with pre-school-age children.”

Latest addition

Sarah Steel, managing director, The Old Station Nursery, who also chairs The Oxfordshire Early Years Board, added: “We are so proud of the new nursery as the latest addition to all the great work that is being done across the county. Our new nursery is light and airy and is already welcoming babies and children from parents and carers on the Park and the local area.

"Also we have had a successful recruitment drive which has resulted in new jobs being created with more in the pipeline and the appointment of an apprentice. The Minister’s visit and official opening was the icing on the cake after a few months of hard work to open a nursery of which we are all very proud.”