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Falling birth rate puts nurseries at risk

THE Pied Piper of Dalmellington isn't to blame for the imminent closure of the free-standing Dame Helen's nursery - merely the Scottish proclivity for fewer weans.

Across the country, the number of pre-five children is predicted to fall by 8 per cent over the next six years, leading to closures of nurseries and primaries.

Five years ago the East Ayrshire nursery attracted 40 pre-fives in the morning and a similar number in the afternoon. Now it is mornings only for 32 children.

East Ayrshire is now proposing to close the nursery, saving nearly pound;25,000, and plans to re-establish it as a nursey class in the local primary.

Tommy Farrell, the council's education convener, said: "The school population in Dalmellington has fallen dramatically over the last few years and our projections show that it would prove difficult to maintain the nursery school in the village. Children will benefit from a brand new nursery class as well as being perfectly located to ensure continuity of education."

Scottish Executive pupil projections indicate that within nine years the primary 1 entry roll throughout Scotland will be slightly over 54,000, a drop of nearly 7,000 over the figure for 1998.

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