A number of residents have been in touch regarding the Great North Wood Educational Trust/ Rosendale School’s decision, announced recently, to close their childcare provision at Cherry Tree in August later this year.
We were not given advance notice of this decision, and on learning of it requested an urgent update from Lambeth officers:
Cherry Tree is a satellite site to Rosendale Children’s Centre and is in addition to the borough’s 23 children’s centres. It has not been designated as a children’s centre since 2015. There is very limited use of the building for children’s centre services, but families have access to family support from a Better Start worker and monthly appointments with Citizens Advice Bureau alongside the wider offer at Rosendale children’s centre. Cherry Tree is primarily used for the delivery of childcare by Rosendale as part of the Great North Wood Educational Trust.
Delivery of childcare and funding for that is separate to any children’s centre provision, and it is the responsibility of the childcare provider to ensure that provision is sustainable. The council does not have a role in funding childcare, although it does administer funding for the two, three and four year old entitlements under a national funding formula.
Rosendale School joined the Great North Wood Educational Trust in 2017, and became part of that multi agency trust. This led to a significant increase in pension costs for support staff, including those employed to work in either Rosendale Children’s Centre or Liz Atkinson Children’s Centres, or in childcare provision at Rosendale or Cherry Tree.
The school has struggled to meet these pension costs, and has worked with Lambeth Council to explore all possible solutions, but is unfortunately no longer able to sustain the additional costs of running a childcare business at Cherry Tree. At the time that consultation on children’s centres commenced both the school and the Council expected that a solution that enabled ongoing delivery of childcare by Rosendale Primary School at the Cherry Tree site would be possible.
Consultation with staff on a proposed closure of the childcare provision began on 5th April.
As part of this process, the school will end their lease agreement with the council for use of the Cherry Tree building, and the council will consider alternative uses for the building in the future, including the possibility of entering into a new lease agreement with a new organisation for the delivery of childcare services or other children’s services.
The report due for consideration by Cabinet on Monday 15th April recommends that children’s centre delivery continues at Rosendale in line with the proposals outlined in the consultation document.
Council officers will meet with parents currently using childcare at Cherry Tree following the Easter break, and will provide information and support to parents who need to make alternative childcare arrangements from September 2019. Rosendale children’s centre staff will also provide support in relation to finding childcare over coming months.
As your local councillors, we will be lobbying to ensure that the delivery of childcare/ children’s services continue from the Cherry Tree site by another provider.