AN “OUTSTANDING” rated nursery is closing down after plummeting birth rates across Canvey left it without clientele amid spiralling rent costs.

Little Hawks Pre-School in Long Road is closing for good this month with managers blaming a lack of children needing care on the move.

The nursery is run by the same team at Hawkesbury Pre-school – also rated “outstanding” by Ofsted – which will continue to operate as normal.

“It is a very sad and sensitive issue which we have tried to deal with as carefully and mindfully as we have been able,” a spokesman for Little Hawks Pre-School said.

“The birth rate is low across Canvey, affecting numbers in many preschools and a couple of preschools on the Island have already been forced to close due to the same issue in the last year.”

The latest national census captured on March 21, 2021, shows the borough has an ageing population.

There were 22,600 people aged 65 and over living in Castle Point – up from 19,001 in 2011, when the census was previously carried out.

It means the proportion of over-65s living in the area rose over a decade from 21.6 per cent to 25.2 per cent.

Just 9,100 under-10s were living in Castle Point on the day of the census.

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“Due to the untenable situation of the low number of children across the island, both preschools had lower numbers and we sought business and legal advice, with the advice given to us to close Little Hawks,” the pre-school spokesman said.

They added Little Hawks had been selected for closured due to “disproportionate rental costs” which made the school four times more costly than Hawkesbury – with rent costs set to increase further.

Of the 12 staff members working at Little Hawks, two have been offered new roles at Hawkesbury.

“We were able to provide two members of staff with employment at Hawkesbury Preschool because we had positions available for their skill set within in our already, highly qualified and experienced management and special educational needs teams,” the spokesman explained.

They added: “Going forward, Hawkesbury Pre-School will continue to provide a safe, nurturing and calm environment with good quality teaching for children and families to start their educational journey.”