CONTROVERSIAL plans to close a school’s nursery unit have prompted a petition from worried parents.

They fear their little ones will be left with nowhere to go if the Goslings group at Somerford primary School in Christchurch is closed down.

In a letter to parents, Head of School Helen Frampton and Chair of Governors John Stevens said the school can’t afford to keep the group going because only 14 children attend and the school is losing £10,000 a term.

But parents said they believe the low numbers are only temporary and that more children will be looking for places as more homes are built in the area.

They said the unit allows children to move confidently into school and that they will struggle to find other nursery places in the area.

Many of the parents don’t drive and said it will be impossible to get their children to nurseries in areas such as Mudeford and Burton when they also have children who attend Somerford Primary.

Hayley Willis told the Daily Echo: “The Somerford nursery has been a God-send. Goslings is the number one nursery and is also a good distance for walking.”

Tina Treadwell added: “All the other local nurseries are fully booked with waiting lists of eight months. Just because there aren’t enough children this year doesn’t mean there won’t be enough next year.”

Brenda Pidgley said: “Goslings nursery is a main part of children’s education and social development. It has been open for many years as my 16-year-old went there and also five of my others. I don’t drive so can’t walk miles.”

Parents have been invited to attend a meeting this afternoon to hear more about the proposals before a statutory notice is published. There will then be a formal consultation process of at least four weeks and a decision will be made by Dorset County Council within two months.

An online petition can be found at Search for Somerford on the site.

A council spokesman said: “Somerford Primary School has taken the difficult decision to propose to close the Goslings nursery. The local authority will make the final decision after a process of consultation.

“Unfortunately, the number of children attending Goslings has dropped considerably and it is simply no longer financially viable. We understand that the closure will be a difficult and unsettling time for families, but we have pledged to work with them to ensure their children’s education remains our priority.”