A projected deficit of £20,000 has forced a west Dorset preschool to close from next week.

St Michael’s Preschool in Lyme Regis has become ‘unviable to run’ and governors have made the 'difficult decision' to close on July 23.

In a letter sent out to parents, headteacher Nick Kiddle and chairman of governors Michaela Ellis, said: “It is with great sadness and deep regret that we have to inform you that St Michael’s Preschool must close with effect from Tuesday, July 23. This has been a very difficult decision for the governors to make, but because the preschool has become unviable to run, there has been no other choice.

“Since its beginning in the children’s centre, the preschool has run at a deficit; its total income from fees, funding, grants, and fundraising, has not been enough to cover even the basic costs of staffing. The projected deficit for this current year is £20,000, which is an increase on the previous year. In any future years, this deficit is projected to keep increasing. Added to a falling school budget, and cuts made across the whole school, a substantial rolling preschool deficit is too heavy a burden to maintain. Even an increase in fees for all those parents already paying would not make it possible to sustain the current provision. Unfortunately, this reflects a national problem: early years funding and provision is a national concern.

“Our Preschool staff, Caroline, Kathy and Amanda, have worked tirelessly to promote the preschool and to increase the number of children attending, but with current and projected numbers, low level funding, and increasing costs, we are not able to shrink the deficit.

“The governors have been in contact with Dorset Council and the local Family Partnership Zone team to seek help, support, and guidance, for all the families and children affected by this decision. Information about this can be provided.

“Over the years we have been fortunate to work with so many supportive parents and families: we are grateful for all your encouragement and help. Thank you.

“We also want to thank Caroline, Kathy and Amanda for all their hard work and for their dedicated attention to every child in their care. Their development of provision for early years learning has been inspirational. Thank you to them.

“Thank you for your support.”