Expansion of nursery provision threatens children’s outdoor play

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Parents at Busby Primary School are furious that the expansion of early learning and childcare entitlement is being used to justify plans to build on the last remaining area of greenspace at the East Renfrewshire school.

East Renfrewshire Council’s Planning Committee will meet tomorrow (Wednesday, January 16) to rule on the proposals for a 120 place nursery and 55 space car park within the existing grounds of Busby Primary School.

While the move to increase entitlement to early learning and childcare to 1140 hours is welcomed, members of the Busby Primary School Parents Council and the wider Busby community are opposed to plans to accommodate this provision by building a new nursery on the school’s only remaining field.

High among the concerns of the Save Busby Primary Playing Fields campaign group is the impact this loss of greenspace will have on the overall learning experience of children both at nursery and in primary school. With both physical education and outdoor learning considered key parts of a child’s development, parents are anxious to know how this can be achieved as the school’s playground continues to shrink while the school roll continues to rise.

With around 310 pupils currently vying for space in the small playground and Multi Use Games Area (MUGA), concerns have already been raised about the safety of children playing in such a cramped space. One parent, also a PE teacher, has highlighted concerns that the mini-MUGA does not provide enough space for a class to run around freely during a PE lesson, and also noted that pupils are already being advised to run around less in the playground to avoid being knocked over.

Busby Primary School parent and West of Scotland MSP, Ken Macintosh, has also voiced his concerns.

He said: “It is not often that a school objects to new facilities being built so the fact that the very parents who value nursery education are objecting to these plans, says it all.

“We are trying to teach our children about the importance of the environment, about clean air and healthy exercise, yet the council seems to believe that is all trumped by their plans for around 20 extra nursery places. How on earth can they justify bulldozing our children’s playing field to put up a parking lot.

“Our only hope is that our local councillors defy the administration whip at the planning meeting and put the needs of the community who elected them first.”

There was a clear message from the more than 95 children, parents and residents who turned out to a public meeting about the nursery proposals last week: any benefit from increased nursery entitlement should not undermined by ripping up the greenspace those same children will rely on for outdoor learning play once they begin primary school.

For further information on the Save Busby Primary Playing Fields campaign, visit Save Busby Primary Playing Fields