Ilford South MP visits Loxford preschool amid fears over potential closure
- Credit: Cash Boyle
The MP for Ilford South has spoken with staff at a Loxford preschool amid fears it might have to close.
Sam Tarry met with employees of the Loxford First Step Preschool on Wednesday (March 31) and spoke with them about the possibility of a facility for young people who have been excluded from school - a Pupil Referral Unit - being co-located to the Loxford Youth Centre.
Redbridge Council has confirmed such a facility is under consideration for the building and made reassurances about the youth centre, but has not explicitly mentioned what will happen to the preschool which is also housed at the site.
The MP was given a tour of the setting by manager Husna Malek and Ruthba Amin, who first approached the Recorder with her concerns earlier this month.
Beyond speaking with staff, the MP also spoke with parents such as Ali Noaman, whose two-year-old son has benefitted hugely from attending the preschool.
Members of staff also shared their concerns on the day.
Deputy manager Sara Pirzada said: "This preschool really means a lot to me because I've never worked with children before, but since I've come here I've gained the necessary qualifications with the support from my manager.
"It's very rewarding to see children grow and develop in different areas of learning."
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Describing her work as a "wonderful environment to be in", Subera Ahmed has urged decision-makers to "save this preschool".
An employee with the setting for more than two years, she currently works with children who have Special Educational Needs (SEN).
Neha Choudhry has been with the preschool since it opened its doors almost four years ago.
She said: "When I started, the number of children was six [to] seven, but it has grown now. Hopefully in summer, we'll have over 60 children."
For Shehzadi Ahsan, it's a family affair. She has worked at the setting - where her son currently attends - for two years.
Admitting to "really enjoying" her work, Shehzadi told the Recorder the potential for closure is "really shocking": "I've been really emotional about it. I can't even think about that, that I would lose my job.
"As a team member, this is another family for me."
Speaking after his visit about the potential closure, Mr Tarry vowed to work with Redbridge Council to "ensure this is not an option".
He added: “I hope a collaborative way forward can be found that does not disadvantage children at the preschool or their parents, and offers reassurance to all the staff about their livelihoods."
Addressing the situation, a spokesperson for Redbridge Council has previously told this newspaper: "Should the council seek to co-locate youth provision and alternative provision education at Loxford, then the next step will be for the council to hold a consultation with the local community.
"This will consider the implications and opportunities for enhancing youth provision, as well as considering early years provision and mitigating the risk of any job losses."