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THE headteacher of a new nursery said it was only able to open thanks to Basildon Council funding.
The nursery, at St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School in Vange, opened on September 4. It received a £20,000 grant from the council to spend on toys and education equipment.
The funding was granted after Labour council leader Gavin Callaghan pledged two years ago to invest in new pre-school facilities in poorer areas of the borough.
An in-depth study of poverty in Essex in 2015 named Vange the most ‘persistently’ impoverished area in the county.
In 2018, Vange Labour councillor Melissa McGeorge told the YA: “If you’ve got a lower start in life, you are unfortunately more likely to remain in poverty. I went to an Essex Council briefing the other day about children arriving at school already behind. Vange was one of the worst areas, marked as high risk.”
The new nursery at St Teresa’s will provide 26 full-time equivalent places for youngsters aged three to five.
Labour council leader Gavin Callaghan visited the facility last Friday, September 13.
He said: “Pre-school years are crucial and a lack of pre-school places in the south of the borough has long been highlighted as a major reason why too many children are held back.
“Two years ago, when I was leader of the council, I was asked if I would help kickstart the building of a new nursery for three-year-olds at St Teresa’s in Vange.
“I was right behind the project and am excited to see the nursery open its doors… Over the next decade it will help hundreds of children get a head start in life that they otherwise would never have had.”
Headteacher Nuala Cashell said last week: “It is thanks to the donation from Basildon Council that we have been able to purchase the resources, toys and equipment needed to provide our pupils with a great learning environment that teaches them the skills they require to succeed in the rest of their educational career.
“Without Basildon Council’s support, we would not have been able to open our doors.”
*Some places are still available at the nursery and can be applied for at: https://www.st-teresasrc.essex.sch.uk/