Schools across the borough have come forward to take over the running of eight Children’s Centre buildings as part of a review into Early Years and Childcare, Children’s Centres and Family Support Services.
The buildings will be transferred to the schools who will deliver services for children and families as part of their programme of activities.
Each school will have its own bespoke plan for the relevant building in their area and some will continue to deliver the types of services associated with a Children’s Centre. Where partners are unable to continue this offer, services will be delivered elsewhere in the vicinity.
The eight centres to be transferred and their partner organisation are as follows:
Bright Meadows will be run by St Catherine’s Academy; Crompton by The Valley Primary School; Heaton by Lifebridge at Rumworth School; Hulton by St Mary’s CE School; Little Lever by Mytham Primary School; Lord Street & Grosvenor by Grosvenor Nursery School; The Orchards by The Orchards Federation; and Westhoughton by Washacre Primary School.
Kearsley Children’s Centre will continue to operate as usual while alternative premises at King Street, Farnworth are being refurbished.
A reduced service will also continue to be delivered at Leverhulme and Bromley Cross, Horwich and Blackrod Library sites.
The core of Children’s Centre services will be delivered from seven Start Well integrated hubs at:
Great Lever; Oxford Grove; Tonge; Alexandra; Oldhams; King Street Young People’s Centre; and Winifred Kettle Centre.
Harvey Children’s Centre will continue to deliver nursery places and specialist services for vulnerable families.
The proposals were approved by members of The Cabinet on Monday, December 5, following a 90-day consultation period.
Deputy Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Linda Thomas, said: “We have received some very good and workable solutions from schools interested in taking over the buildings.
“I’d like to thank everyone who took part in the consultation and assure them that we appreciate their passion for Children Centre services. We had no choice but to make £1.47 million savings in this area due to budget cuts imposed by central government, but we have taken on board people’s concerns and created a new service that will continue to provide essential services to families with young children in the borough.”
Kevan Naughton, Headteacher at The Valley Community Primary School, said: “The Valley School has long held a close relationship with our Crompton children’s centre. We see the council's proposed changes as an opportunity to continue many of the services offered in the children's centre, whilst also exploring how to maximise the children’s centre facilities, within the school campus as a whole.”
Taking over the centre at Westhoughton, Jenny Haunch, Headteacher at Washacre Primary School, said: "We are excited by the prospect of receiving the facilities in which we can host a variety of activities. We have in mind events such as Smoking Cessation, Weight Watchers, Silver Surfers IT sessions, Basic Skills Educational Opportunities and wrap around child care.
“We anticipate that the centre will become the community hub consisting of a multi-agency approach to providing a range of services and support from the very young to the elderly. It is anticipated that through consultation with the local community that we can facilitate the sorts of services they feel a need for.”
Staff members affected by the plans have been briefed and it is hoped that the majority of savings can be met through vacant posts, voluntary severance and voluntary early retirement.
The redesign of the service should be completed by March 2017, and the council will work with individual schools on the implementation of their programmes over the next few months.