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Cabinet vote sees Camden cut nursery provision to focus on Sure Start services

PUBLISHED: 14:49 04 September 2020 | UPDATED: 14:51 04 September 2020

Parents and pupils campaigning to save Gospel Oak Nursery in February. Gospel Oak's future will not be determined until next July. Picture: Yami Manchanda-Corless

Parents and pupils campaigning to save Gospel Oak Nursery in February. Gospel Oak's future will not be determined until next July. Picture: Yami Manchanda-Corless

Archant

Significant changes to Camden’s nurseries were approved on Thursday night, which the council claims will tackle a “silly” use of resources.

The four nurseries affected by the proposals. Clockwise from top left: Kilburn Grange, Konstam, Hampden and Gospel Oak. Pictures: Google MapsThe four nurseries affected by the proposals. Clockwise from top left: Kilburn Grange, Konstam, Hampden and Gospel Oak. Pictures: Google Maps

Kilburn Grange Nursery will be closed down and turned into a Sure Start centre while Konstam Nursery will continue for children aged two to four – but as part of Brookfield School.

The changes affecting four nurseries, all rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, will cut £600,000 from the town hall’s budget.

They were unanimously agreed by Camden Council’s cabinet on September 3 – against a backdrop of falling school rolls and a declining birth rate.

READ MORE: Camden’s proposals for ‘outstanding’ nurseries set for critical meeting

Cllr Angela Mason, Camden’s education chief, said the move would improve integration between the borough’s health and children’s services.

Cllr Mason said: “We have a situation where there are too many resources and not enough children.

“We have situations where our primary nursery classes are not full and they’re often very, very near some of our maintained nursery provision which is also not full.

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“That’s a silly state of affairs and a silly use of resources and we do want to promote and support nursery classes in our primary schools, especially for three and four-year-olds.”

Cllr Mason said the council’s new focus on Sure Start centres would boost support for children up to two years old at a critical stage of their development.

Under the early years changes, most of which are projected to come into effect next July, Hampden Nursery pupils aged 3 and 4 will be moved to Edith Neville School.

Proposals for Gospel Oak Nursery will be delayed until next July following further consultation.

Cllr Oliver Cooper, leader of the opposition, challenged the “sustainability” and “credibility” of the plans.

The Camden Conservatives leader urged the town hall to review its planning policies and build more housing suitable for families.

Cllr Cooper said: “If the demographic shift continues and the birth rate does not rise quite rapidly, those Sure Start centres will have too few children to operate.

“It doesn’t solve the underlying problem which would hit centres just like it’s hit our schools, nurseries and secondary schools.”

At Thursday’s cabinet meeting, Carlton Primary School’s merger with Rhyl primary was approved.

READ MORE: Consultation to begin on Carlton Primary School’s closure after Camden Council cabinet vote


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