CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

It’s not too late for Camden Council to change its mind on Carlton School

06 December, 2019

• I SAW Cllr Angela Mason’s letter “to acknowledge the many concerns that have been expressed about the future of Carlton primary”, (Discussions with Carlton… no decisions have been made, November 28).

Camden Unison members working there agreed that they will campaign to oppose the closure of this fantastic school providing a good education for children in one of the most deprived parts of the borough.

Providing the Best Start in Life for Camden children requires a highly skilled workforce and the best resources to do it. Camden has the sixth worst levels of child poverty in the whole of London with two out of every five children living in families on the “breadline”.

Two-thirds of these children will be living in a family where at least one parent is working in a low-income job.

From Camden Council’s own research, children born into poverty in the borough only have an 80 per cent chance of achieving a good development compared with the national average.

Children have paid a high price for Tory austerity measures. A two-fold attack: A relentless reduction in family income for the poorest through both benefit cuts and wage stagnation in the period when the country’s richest 1,000 have seen their income more than double.

However, attacks on services have also had a big impact. Government cuts to council funding have reduced the offer to children in their early years.

All Camden children attending an early years centre or a school nursery used to get 30 hours of childcare. And Camden used to provide nursery provision for babies through to four years old.

Cllr Mason’s reassurance that there are “no plans to close the early years centre in Lismore Circus” have not been made to the highly skilled and effective staff there or the three other early years centres Kilburn Grange, Konstam and Hampden.

All four have “outstanding’ Ofsted rating but the council plan to start a consultation in the new year to close the nursery provision in all four.

Many of the nursery staff work with children that are eligible for places because they come from deprived parts of the borough. These nurseries are full apart from Kilburn Grange because of recent refurbishments.

A Camden report states there is a lack of provision across the borough for children the Department for Work and Pensions believe are eligible for a service.

Our members oppose the closure of the nursery facilities at these centres as they are essential for those children who need a “Best Start in Life”.

Why close the provision for two-year-olds in purpose-built centres when the council would have to build new facilities and re-equip other buildings.

The council could extend nursery provision to 0-two-year-olds to provide an even better start for those children who are born with a high risk of failure in this crazy market-driven system.

It’s not too late for the council to abandon the plans for the borough’s nurseries and Carlton school and organise a genuine consultation on what our children need to get the best start in life.

Otherwise they will face a major campaign to oppose their plans from parents, staff and the wider community.

HUGO PIERRE
Camden Unison
Schools Convener

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