Camden proposes changing nurseries to children’s centres

Nurseries run by a north London council could be repurposed as children’s centres or closed as part of new plans set out by the borough.

Camden Council has launched a consultation on childcare services. Picture: Camden Council
Camden Council has launched a consultation on childcare services. Picture: Camden Council

Camden Council’s proposals, which have been issued for public consultation, aim to address excess childcare places in maintained nurseries and make better use of provision available in primary schools.

Removing funding from these nurseries “will enable Camden to make necessary savings and invest in new services for families in their children’s first 1001 days”, the council said.

The council currently runs nine maintained nurseries and five children’s centres.

The introduction of the national funding formula in 2017 meant it was forced to withdraw its offer of 25 hours of early education for all three- and four-year-olds in school and council-maintained nurseries leading to an oversupply of spaces for this age group, the council said. 

Many of the families who were in receipt of the funding are not eligible for the 30 hours offer, it added.

Camden has also seen a drop in the number of three- and four-year-olds living in the borough since 2013.

Three options included in the consultation which closes on 12 February are:

  • The closure of two maintained nurseries.
  • Reducing the number of places and introducing cost-saving measures across Camden’s maintained nurseries. This could impact the quality and sustainability of its settings, the council warns.
  • Re-purposing four Camden maintained nurseries (Gospel Oak, Hampden, Kilburn Grange, Konstam) to Sure Start children’s centres – the council’s preferred option. Services offered in addition to those already available in the borough could include specialist communication and language support services, family learning sessions and the introduction of the "Henry" healthy start programme to support the development of healthy lifestyles.

Councillor Angela Mason, cabinet member for best start for children and families said: “Camden has a proud history of supporting families of children aged under five through our Camden Sure Start services – and we know how important it is for their future to give children the best start in life. 

“While Camden children are achieving in line with others across the country by age five, there is still a significant gap between the achievement of disadvantaged children and others in the borough. This gap needs to be narrowed if Camden is to deliver on our commitment to be a place where everyone has a chance to succeed and where nobody gets left behind."