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SALFORD CITY COUNCIL TO CONSULT ON OUTSOURCING ITS NURSERIES
 

Star date: 30th August 2018

SALFORD COUNCIL CONSULTS ON DEVOLVING NURSERIES TO SCHOOLS OR 'OTHER PROVIDERS'

After a long campaign to save Salford's OFSTED rated 'outstanding' nurseries, the Council is to consult on devolving the childcare centres to local schools or "other providers"...

"This would mean that the LA [Local Authority] Day Nurseries would no longer be operated and managed by the Council and that a schools/education provider would take over their management and operation" states the Council in a letter to parents. The consultation is due to run from 7th September until 18th October.

Full details here...


After all the meetings, consultations, lobbies of Government ministers and marches to save Salford City Council's five OFSTED rated 'outstanding' nurseries, the Council is about to launch a further consultation on devolving them to schools and 'other providers'...

"This would mean that the LA [Local Authority] Day Nurseries would no longer be operated and managed by the Council and that a schools/education provider would take over their management and operation" states the Council in a letter to parents.

After a big campaign to save the nurseries following the Council's initial proposal to close them, City Mayor, Paul Dennett did a u-turn and found ?1.5million to keep them open until September 2019.*

Now, a Lead Member for Children's and Young People's Services Briefing is being held on Thursday 6th September to ratify the new proposal, and a long report for the meeting confirms that "The schools/education led provision is the recommended option...

"During the consultation we will hopefully engage with desirable partners to deliver these services on our behalf and understand more fully how this provision will work to support the best outcomes for children and families" it adds.

The option to devolve was put forward by the Salford National Education Union which recommended that 'Little Hulton Nursery to be merged with Peel Hall or Hilton Lane primary schools, Belvedere Nursery to be merged with Lark Hill Primary, Winton Nursery to be merged with Westwood Park Primary and Higher Broughton to be merged with the adjacent Children's Centre or Brentnall Primary. Barton Moss to be merged with its Children's Centre as the school has become part of Prestolee multi academy trust and as an out of authority outfit, could cause legal problems...'

Disturbingly, however, the Council report adds that "other providers can also be explored during this consultation"...

The consultation is due to run from 7th September until 18th October, and follows the previous consultation in which a 41 page report from the management team and staff of the five nurseries cast doubt on the Council's financial figures and statistics justifying any potential closures...

"This year there has been a ?4.5million increase into the early year's budget" it stated "There has also been an 8% increase into the amount of funding allocated within the DSG budget. There also remains 5% left in the DSG grant that could be invested into maintaining the Local Authority Nurseries helping to lower the deficit, making the LA nurseries more affordable. The LA nurseries have not been included in any of the ?4.5million spend.

"...It could be argued that if the Local Authority Nurseries could be afforded for the next two years both political parties are indicating that things need to change in the Early Years and are looking for solutions to the current situation regarding funding and hours of funded places allocated to children" it added.

"We would also like to state that data presented to elected members on 14/2/18 is incorrect" the letter explains "This data only includes children who are currently on role...the children that left to go to school or school nurseries in September 17 (Summer Term) do not show in these figures. This means that there have been significantly more children attending each of the Local Authority nurseries from April to April."

The staff also slate Salford Council's practices that make the nurseries more expensive to run... "We would also like to consider the cost of the food we purchase due to council procurement and consider more affordable options, for example a charge of 10 for a punnet of strawberries is extortionate. If we were able to come off contract a home shopping delivery option could be much cheaper."

The letter pointed to the growth of population in Salford and increasing demand for nurseries, and concluded: "The majority of the people in Salford voted Labour - we ask that you stick to Labour policies and invest in the children and their future as they are the future of Salford..."

The 44 page report to the Lead Member for Children's Services concludes, coldly: "The City Mayor in consultation with Cabinet have considered the outcomes of the first consultation and agreed to proceed with a further 30 day consultation to seek a
school/education based solution to maximise the Local Authority Nursery provision in the City..."

 
The Salford Star has contacted nursery campaigners and Salford City UNISON for a reaction and is awaiting a response...

Update: 3:30pm - Lee Shannon from the Save Our Nurseries campaign says...

"The second consultation isn't what we want, as we're still pushing for central Government to allocate sufficient funding to our nurseries. I've arranged to meet a group of Labour MPs at the conference in Liverpool in September with the aim of pressuring Nadhim Zahawi and Damian Hinds to make a decision on LA nursery funding and allocate something similar to the 55million a year available for nursery schools.

"I can see why the Council have done this though, if they convert the nurseries to nursery schools they will have access to the transitional funding until the end of this Parliament? he adds ?My concern is that this new consultation will lead to privatisation. My plan is to get as much national exposure and pressure in Parliament as we possibly can, so the Government can't continue to ignore the problem."

Update: 31st August: Steve North from Salford City UNISON says...

The position of the campaign remains as was agreed during the consultation period, which is: As things stand, the only outcome that would be acceptable to the parents and the staff would be for the nurseries to remain open as Council nurseries beyond September 2019.

"We are completely opposed to privatisation, transfer to the voluntary sector or an employee-owned co-operative because we know that this would place these nurseries under the rules of the market and lead to worse terms and conditions for staff and worse outcomes for children and families" he adds "We may be willing to consider alternative options that would retain the nurseries in the public sector, but would not commit our support to any such outcome, even partially without a full understanding of what the details and governance arrangements would be. Nor would we be inclined to support such an approach unless we felt confident that all possible attempts had been made to secure the funding required to keep the nurseries open as Council run nurseries.

"We have a campaign meeting on Wednesday, which will involve staff, parents, unions, councillors etc. One of the senior Council officers will attend to discuss this new consultation. We will be in a position to comment further after that.

* For a full background see previous Salford Star articles...

Salford Council To Consult on Nursery 'Alternatives'  click here

Salford Council To Keep Nurseries Open for 18 months  click here


Photo by Dr Gareth Lyons

Pete wrote
at 21:06:25 on 02 September 2018
My Daughter used to go to the nursery on Stott lane,she had a great time there. They moved the Stott lane nursery from there to a new building in Light Oaks School. A good move I thought at first, a new building is better than an old one. Shortly afterwards I met my daughters old teacher in the shopping giant. She said she had been made redundant. She went on to explain that the law said that if a nursery was on the same premises as a school, then they could have less staff and save money. Sounds bonkers to me as they are two separate buildings, and after all it is class size that matters. I bet the council conned the government into paying for the new building, just so it could knock the old one down, and run its car parking rip off. oh well,we all know what they are like.

Nursery supporter wrote
at 07:06:17 on 02 September 2018
Hundreds turned out for the public meeting back in February. Over a thousand for the rallying March? Where was that support in the public consultation? 111 responses. This alone sent the wrong message to the council that people had given up the fight.

Bob the regular wrote
at 18:04:03 on 01 September 2018
Its a long time since mine went to nursery, and I do not understand over 90% of what's going on here, but one things for sure, if a balls up in Salford is made, we know who the usual suspects are. why do we not just keep it simple. Get all the headteachers and teachers of these nurseries together and tell them to work out whats needed, and how to proceed with it. They will know for sure. When they have worked it out they hit Dennetts mob with it. If they don't comply lets have some civic disobediance like the frackers do.

education for the future wrote
at 19:52:17 on 31 August 2018
I cannot stand reading the above story. I cannot read it properly because I am so full of rage.Before Salford council had the great idea to pull it down, and put a greatly profitable public car park on the site, we had on Stott Lane , a grotty old prefab building. Inside that grotty old building was a nursery. It was run by Mrs Heap, and she and her staff gave the kids the best education anyone can get.The kids loved it. Mrs heap was the sort of person who would not take crap off anyone. Does anyone know her whereabouts and if so could they ask her if she has any ideas about how this crazy situation can be resolved?

Rayofsunshine wrote
at 19:52:08 on 31 August 2018
This is bad news, it's not what the people f Salford want for nursery provision in the city. Locl members of the Labour Party neeď to lobby Labour Councillors - nursery provision still should be funded centrally by the council!

wrote
at 06:25:46 on 31 August 2018
Yes dennett agreed to extend the nurseries to get elected again and made a situation 10 times worse promising jobs and childcare places Now it?s backfired so sack him

Salford Star wrote
at 17:56:38 on 30 August 2018
See Retired Socialist?s comment below... In fairness we should point out that there is current funding for ?maintained nurseries?, which is what the Council is proposing. Whether it?s enough is a wait and see ? hopefully it won?t get to that and they will stay under Council control.

Retired Socialist wrote
at 17:48:22 on 30 August 2018
So you devolve a loss making proposition and push it into a Schools stretched budget, the Headmaster then as to operate the units as profit making set ups employing staff and axillary backup, insurance etc in the hope he can fill the placement levels to cover cost. All this against other operational units in the private sector, one more Dennett fuckup,

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