On 8th June 2010, parents and nursery staff were told by a member of Goldsmiths College’s Senior Management Team that in 3 months’ time, they plan to completely close the college’s nursery. Staff and Students have asked for an enquiry into the handling of the whole matter. Meetings informing staff and students were only announced with 24 hours notice, resulting in inevitably poor attendance at meetings crucial to the livelihood of many staff and students.
The atmosphere in the Nursery is special; educational, creative, friendly and safe. It is very rare to find the kind of care, support and attention to children that you find at Goldsmiths Nursery. It is a central part of College life, and should be respected and nurtured as such. The kind of care offered enables staff to return to work after maternity leave and students to return to their studies as parents, in the full knowledge that their children will be well looked after, nearby and safe.
If College is committed to Equal Opportunities and encouraging the best professional women and men in the workplace, then the issue of childcare provision is highly pertinent. The lack of adequate on-site childcare is a classic barrier to women in terms of career development, but, conversely, the provision of high-quality childcare is a valuable incentive. Taking away the Nursery, especially when there is no comparable local provision (and Ofsted ranks the Goldsmiths Nursery as ‘good’) is a shot in the foot.
The college’s decision to close the Nursery has a history. In 2008, the College presented parents and staff with plans to outsource nursery provision but was a bungle, and arose from some previous, ill-formed plan to relocate the Nursery in a new building. The business plan for this was flawed, but the discrepancy between estimates and quotes for the new build was never investigated and these plans were suddenly jettisoned, without letting staff and users know. Staff protested against this and were reassured by the college’s Senior Management Team that, ’as [they] move forward [they] will be consulting with staff and nursery users and keeping [us] closely informed’. This has not, however, been the case.
The timing of the closure for September leaves staff and students with no childcare provision and some term time only staff with almost immediate dismissal, and although a letter distributed by the College states that they will do ‘what [they] can to support parents with children in the Nursery who will have to make alternative childcare arrangements’, how is this to happen? Surely alternative arrangements should have been put in place before we were abandoned? At the very least, parents and staff should be given another year to make other arrangements. Students who have already started courses will have to take time out from their studies in September and Nursery staff should be given time to consider their options. As all parents know, the waiting list for a good nursery is at least a year.
More recently (2009), a Working Party was set up by the College, to look at the ways in which the Nursery could become cost-neutral and sustainable. However, the college dismissed the Working Party’s suggestions without full or proper investigation or explanation.
We, the undersigned are asking that you reconsider your decision to close Goldsmiths’ Nursery in September 2010 for the following reasons:
-That 3 months notice for term time staff is far too short for Nursery Staff facing redundancy.
-That it takes at least a year for parents to wait for a place in a good nursery.
-That a Working Party had been established to address the annual cost of running the Nursery and had made a series of proposals which have not been given proper consideration.
-That if College is committed to Equal Opportunities and encouraging the best professional women and men in the workplace, then the issue of childcare provision is highly pertinent.
The lack of adequate on-site childcare is a classic barrier to women in terms of career development, but, conversely, the provision of high-quality childcare is a valuable incentive and this action does not reflect the public view of Goldsmiths is of a friendly, human institution that takes students and staff seriously.
We call for an independent consultant to review running of the nursery, examining its costs and taking into account the proposals of the working party.
The Save Goldsmiths Nursery petition to Goldsmiths Senior Management Team was written by Sian Moore and is in the category Education at GoPetition.