Private nursery fights council in court

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The Independent Online
A private nursery school yesterday began a legal battle over staff/pupil ratios which may have nationwide repercussions. The Rainbow nursery in Worstead, Norfolk, is fighting a local authority decision that it must employ more staff per pupil than nursery classes in state primary schools.

William Dickinson, the nursery's owner, told Norwich magistrates that the action by Norfolk County Council would force his nursery to close. The local authority said that he must employ one member of staff for every eight pupils aged three to five; nursery schools and classes which employ a qualified teacher must have two staff for 26 pupils. Mr Dickinson argued that his school could offer good quality education even though he could not afford a one-to-eight ratio nor a qualified teacher with the right experience. The council is contesting the case, and the hearing is expected to last three days.