Campaigners fight Goldsmiths nursery closure

Goldsmiths, University of London has announced that it will close its nursery by September. The nursery is currently used by the children of staff and students and a campaign group has been formed to fight the decision.

The campaigners argue that the nursery is an important part of the College's commitment to be an equal opportunities employer and academic centre. They also believe that the current facility is highly-successful, providing an educational, friendly and safe environment. They want, at the very least, to keep the nursery open for another year, to give people time to make alternative arrangements for their children.

The College argues that the nursery operates at a loss of £70,000 a year and cannot be sustained.

To sign the petition, click here.


Govecares said...

I can imagine how the parents feel, you find a decent nursery, your child/ren is/are happy there, you feel you can relax a bit more, meaning you can focus more on your studies and then suddenly with just 3 months notice it's announced this nursery, this vital support for your studies is about to close. And so begins the search and upheaval.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it must be a nightmare given the need to have stability for kids.

That said, I think its going to go... whatever the protests.

Universities are being asked to axe 25% across their topline budgets and they certainly won't be supporting anything that makes a loss.

If Goldsmiths could attract some wealthy foreigners with kids then that would be a different matter.

As it is you will have to wait until the Lib-Cons get voted out in 5 years then there might be an opportunity to spend again. Of course by that time your kids won't have need for the nursery!


Anonymous said...

What a silly idea closing the nursery. I am sure there are alternatives to closure.

Would like to know more about the reasons. Why are loosing? not many children? if it is a good nursery I am sure many parents would love to pay for a good nursery

The Cat Man said...

This doesn't make sense - I thought there was a planning permission on manor avenue to create a new mega nursery - how can it be operating at a loss when there is clearly excess demand in the area - surely the solution is to just increase the fees??

Anonymous said...

It's a university you pillock. A parent who wants to study could be put off by the cost of childcare. That's why it's seen as something to help people into education who may otherwise be put off. Can the parents cope with higher fees? You see how it works?

childcare costs said...

Correct me if i'm wrong, but to be operating at that kind of loss it must be massively subsidised (even free?) for staff / students. If so, then, much as I sympathise with their plight, it's inevitable that this kind of subsidy is reduced at least in this climate. Obviously they could have more notice to find new arrangements, as that often takes a while, or be offered to continue the service at a higher cost.

90% of my wife's salary (in a good job) goes on childcare costs. The cost of early years childcare is a scandal in this country that is very little talked about.

Anonymous said...

Well yes, I expect it is subsidised. It's that or tell stretched parents that education is closed for you. Don't know the details so not sure of the arangements. I wonder if these are the "welfare scrongers" that cameron loves to hate. I also wonder how much debt he left uni with? Answers on a postcard please

Govecares said...

If they're not "scroungers" in Cameron's eyes, then may well seen to be the "burden" in Willetts'.

I think getting the nursery to charge market rates, and for the students to take out loans is the likely way for the nursery to stay open.

This seems to be what this government wants, no subsidies, because subsidies for education are burden on the taxpayer.

Anonymous said...

well they can reserve a number of places to paying non-students that live neraby and can pay market rate, increase the fees to staff (after all the alternative is to pay somewhere else) and make it free only to students in families that really cannot pay.

Increase the number of pupil if necessary. One of the main costs of a nursery is renting the facility, I would hope that at least in this case the university is ahead of competition.

Unless the reason is to use the space for something else this does not make sense. If closed down people still need to pay. So make them pay for a facility that at least is on campus.

Tamsin said...

The main cost of a nursery is that it is highly labour intensive. Even at the ridiculously low rates of pay that those making a career in child-care receive it is the labour costs that are the greatest expense when it comes to day care finances.

Anonymous said...

Depends on your perspective, if you see supporting less
well off parents through college as a "burden", a luxury. The less well off may be scared off with the idea of an even greater debt after uni. If you have well off parents you may well have someone to fall back on. Same deal on student loans, my dad was always worrying about money, that affected me. Luckily I went to uni when there were no fees and a small grant. Wouldn't have considered it otherwise.

Don't have an answer but it's slightly depressing that higher education is seen as privilege and not a right.

Ohhh... NZ GOAL!!

Transpontine said...

It is quite a small nursery, which makes the unit costs high to the extent whereby the fees probably wouldn't cover the costs without being so high that they would be unaffordable to the people who need them. Hence the need for a subsidy. Of course Goldsmiths can fill what will probably be a shrinking number of student places without worrying about whether parents/mature students can access places, there will be no pressure at all from the ConDems to make education inclusive.

It does beg the question of why Goldsmiths didn't take the opportunity to expand in the (now ended) 10 year period of nursery expansion, when there was funding about and Goldsmiths seem to be building or extending left, right and centre.

Transpontine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tamsin said...

@Anon. Those of us in our 50s now were indeed the lucky ones. Grammar Schools open to all and free University places.
But at the risk of sounding like "disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" didn't the slide to where we are now start with the excessive opening up and consequent dumbing down of Higher Education? When Polytechnics tried to re-christen themselves as Universities and Media Studies became a degree course rather than a technical apprentice-ship.

yaxu said...

The nursery has 23 places, which translates to around 30 children as it offers part time places.

The future of the nursery has been uncertain since 2006, over a slow and painful review process, which this has caused great stress to nursery staff and users. At this point we're looking for a long term solution, not an extended period of uncertainty.

Around 20-30K of the subsidy is down to the review process - people taking their children out of nursery during a recent failed outsourcing attempt, use of agency staff and so on. A working party identified further measures to reduce the overall subsidy to 20K after one year, with a cost review to reduce the subsidy towards zero. These findings were rejected although it appears this was due to a misunderstanding of Ofsted requirements.

The fees for the nursery are already high, but this is a high quality on-campus provision, which has remained in very high regard and demand despite the uncertainty around it.

There was an attempt to build a new nursery, but this failed due to unrealistic planning.

Perhaps the worst thing is the three months notice, apparently timed to coincide with the summer break, but leaving student and staff parents in dire straits, as comparable nurseries have waiting lists of at least 12 months.

Goldsmiths has a new warden, and we're hoping for a creative solution that will secure the nursery's future.

Tressilliana said...

Yaxu, that sounds worrying for all concerned, and particularly frustrating if there has been incompetence, which your account suggests. Fingers crossed for a better outcome.

Tamsin, grammar schools weren't open to all, by definition! I don't buy into the idea that the 11+ years were a golden age in education. Not all grammar schools were good - many were snobbish places where some working class children did not thrive as they should, for instance. Secondary moderns were often badly financed and couldn't provide what we would now think of as a full secondary curriculum.

It's often forgotten that it was the middle classes that pushed for an end to the 11+ because they were aghast that if their children failed the 11+ they did not get a decent secondary education. Comprehensives, which had all-party support in the 60s and 70s, were seen as a much better solution, especially for the child who was a late developer or good at English, say, but not very good at Maths, and hence unlikely to pass the 11+. The hope was that there would be a general rise in standards.

Tamsin said...

Not saying it was a golden age - just a time when with a degree of luck the bright ones from a poor working class background could get the very best tertiary education and not be trammelled by debt at the start of their working lives. Important if you think how badly research scientists or idealists working in the Third World are paid. I know with student loans the requirement to repay does not kick in until you reach a certain salary level but it is not interest free and always lurking in the background.

The hope for a general raise in standards was alas misplaced.

The mistake, I contend, was in the original terminology. How much more exciting are "Modern Secondaries" than "Secondary Moderns"...

But this is diverging from the plight of the current Goldsmiths students and their young children.

Anonymous said...

Maybe trolling here, but..
Sometimes I think about quitting my £18k a year, 10 hours a day job now that I've spent the last 8 years scraping by, whilst paying off my student debt.
..and have a baby? I'd probably be better off!
Don't think i'll then be able to go back to art college to bend some bits of wire.

Brockley Nick said...

Yes, because babies are really cheap and easy to look after.

And the best way to make a decision to bring a new life in to the world, for which you will always be responsible is with a profit and loss ledger.

Good trolling!

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile the Council quietly....

CRECHES across the borough are set to be closed as part of a cost-cutting measure.

Lewisham Council’s childminding centres in eight locations across the borough will be shutdown under the plan.

The facilities are provided to students on the council’s Community Education Lewisham courses at locations such as the Brockley Rise Centre and the Kirkdale Centre in Kirkdale, Sydenham.

Their closure would see 26 staff members made redundant at the end of this term.

Pat Richardson, a 65-year-old student who is chairman of the Grove Park User Group for students at the Pragnell Road centre, said there had been a lack of consultation over the closures.

She said: “Clearly, there is nothing to consult on - it is now a fait accompli.”

Ms Richardson went on: “The people who use these facilities are younger women who might not be able to do a class otherwise.

“At Grove Park alone at least 24 students use the facility.

“Most mums who might have a very young child preferred them to be on site while they did their classes.

“Now that option has gone it might have a bad effect.”

A council spokesman said: "The new process of funding allows students to apply for a grant and choose their own form of childcare.

“We remain committed to supporting our students in need of childcare and we will be working with them to get the best they can from this new system

sarky said...

Well look on the brightside council tax is frozen for a year!

Headhunter said...

Yeah, that is good news seeing as Lewisham is one of the only London Boroughs to have continued increasing council tax through the hard times, I'm sure they would have had another healthy tax hike in the wings otherwise...

Tamsin said...

The creche closures - Cuts and abdication of responsiblity being dressed up as "choice" and "empowerment". I hate this dishonesty. The same thing is happening at the other end of life. There are plans afoot for the elderly, in need of social care, who have enough to on their plates without tackling the complexities of employment law, to be given "individual budgets" and be expected to engage their own carers. And, of course, the private sector on the make is stepping in with agencies set up to manage all this.

There was lot of inefficiency in the bad old days of the ever increasing public sector - but privatisation, overt or creeping in by the back door, is not the answer and the spin being put on it all is sickening.

Anonymous said...

Staggered that people who've been subsidised for no reason whatsoever by the taxpayer for 7 years now feel they have any reaosn to complain!

it's hardly surprising we are running a massive budget deficit.

Why was the taxpayer EVER funding this nursery?

Anonymous said...

so that having kids dosn't automatically exclude you from higher education. Clear enough? obviously not....

Tressilliana said...

Worthwhile investment for all the following reasons:

(a) College employees can remain in work, paying tax and NI, while child is in good, affordable childcare. A parent in a relatively low-paid job, especially if a lone parent, might otherwise have to give up work even if s/he wanted to carry on, and in the long run that is not a good thing.

(b) A student gets a degree and moves on to better-paid work than they would otherwise have had - or just work - and starts paying tax and NI and having a stake in society. Again, without affordable childcare said student is likely to have to live on benefits.

(c) If we don't have good quality childcare, children's development suffers and in the long run society pays for that - health problems, underachievement in school, antisocial behaviour, etc etc.

Anonymous said...

Tresilliana, forget it. some people think that if you have little money it's probably your fault and should be allowed to sink. The lack of empathy is staggering.

Brockley Central Label Cloud