These nurseries provide about 1.5% of Tower Hamlets early years provision in term time (105 children out of over 7,000 attending day care with nurseries, nursery schools and child minders), dropping to about 30 children during holidays.
The consultation is available here and will end on Thursday 26th October 2017. Parents will be invited to meetings at John Smith, Mary Sambrook and Overland day care nurseries attended by their children, to discuss and give their views on the proposals, as well as being posted a paper version of the consultation.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said:
“I‘m keen to reassure parents, carers and staff, that there are no plans to close any nurseries in the borough. In fact, unlike other councils, we are trying to keep our nurseries open, despite facing £58m of cuts to the council budget, that’s £1 in every £6 that we spend.
“This is not an easy task but we can achieve it if we find more efficient ways to deliver these services, including exploring the option of other organisations running these nurseries.
“I am crystal clear that services and standards of care for the children at nurseries will stay the same or will be even better; that the nurseries will stay affordable and that staff conditions are protected.”
Of particular concern is the need to make sure that the excellent specialist care for children with disabilities or special educational needs stays in place.
Any proposals for the Overland day care nursery – which caters for children with hearing impairment – will make sure that these specialist services continue at the same location, and that services for children with other special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), are protected and will require new providers to have this expertise.
High quality specialist care will continue for those who need it as part of the full range of early years’ services.
Councillor Amy Whitelock Gibbs, Cabinet Member for
Education and Children’s Services said:
“We do understand that parents and staff have concerns about what this will mean for them and for the children.
“We need to provide the same excellent day care nursery service to families at a lower cost to the council and we know many private, independent and voluntary sector providers are already doing this for over 2,500 local children.
“Any new providers will have to fulfil tough requirements on maintaining excellent standards of care for children. We would especially encourage interest from voluntary organisations to run these three day care nurseries, who would be able to access support through any tendering process.”
”We are very keen to hear views from parents and carers to help shape what happens next, so I would urge you to take part in the consultation.
Children with SEND, including hearing impairment, who attend the three day care nurseries, will still have the same services and support under a new provider; they will continue to be provided by Tower Hamlets council.
Extra support depends on the needs of each child, and can be provided at a school or day care nursery or, with the parents, at a children’s centre. For children with hearing impairment, it includes specialist teaching in signing or adapting to cochlear implants. Some children need help with mobility or feeding, which the council pays for under their Education, Health & Care Plan. And others receive extra help to take part in activities, supported by evaluations and advice from the council’s Early Help team.