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Camden’s proposals for ‘outstanding’ nurseries set for critical meeting

PUBLISHED: 10:40 02 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:41 02 September 2020

Parents protesting outside the Crowndale Centre in March. Picture: Yami Manchanda-Corless

Parents protesting outside the Crowndale Centre in March. Picture: Yami Manchanda-Corless

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Camden Council is set to decide on changes to its early years provision impacting four local nurseries, all rated ‘outstanding’.

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

The town hall is proposing to merge Konstam Nursery with Brookfield School in Highgate, and turn Kilburn Grange Nursery into a Sure Start centre.

The plans, which would also see Hampden Nursery pupils aged 3 and 4 moved to Edith Neville School, will be reviewed on Thursday (September 3) at a meeting of the council’s cabinet.

The proposals, which would save the council £600,000, are a response to the borough’s declining birth rates and falling school rolls.

Camden said the plans will narrow educational inequalities but Camden Conservatives’ leader, Cllr Oliver Cooper, claimed Sure Start centres that focus on children up to the age of two - a central part of the council’s plans - aren’t the answer.

Cllr Cooper said: “This is a short-term sticking plaster, not a long-term solution.

“Such a short-term solution will just mean uprooting children and communities again next year or the year after: creating more disruption in children’s lives.”

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Hugo Pierre, from Camden Unison, said: “We don’t agree with the proposals as now is not the time to be closing nursery provision.

“The Covid pandemic has hit private and voluntary sector nurseries quite hard.”

Changes to Gospel Oak Nursery, influenced by the future of nearby Carlton Primary School, are not expected until July next year.

Cllr Angela Mason, Camden’s education chief, said: “Attending a high-quality nursery helps children achieve well but we also know that the time from pregnancy to the age of two is really important in ensuring that children get the best start.

“After a public consultation with local families, staff and residents, cabinet will be asked to approve changes to early years services in the borough which we believe will help all children to achieve well.”

A total of 11 meetings on the plans were attended by 39 parents. The public consultation received 97 responses, 38% of them opposing the proposals - the most popular answer.

Tulip Siddiq, Hampstead and Kilburn’s MP, said early years education was “essential” and that concerns had been raised over the council’s plans.

READ MORE: Former head calls for ‘meaningful public engagement’ over Carlton and Rhyl primary schools merger


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