Save Sure Start Nurseries

Read about things you can do to help make Tower Hamlets a better place for all of our children


Child poverty is on the rise in Tower Hamlets and one of the best investments we can make for our future is investing in Early Years.

We need everyone to apply pressure on local government to stop the closure of the 3 remaining public nurseries.

Please see the below form letter that you can send to your local Councillor and MP. Although it’s always best if you can put it in your own words. Details of who to write to can be found here.

Dear (Insert Councillor or MP’s Name)

I am writing regarding plans to close John Smith, John Smith Children’s Centre, Mary Sambrook and Overland Day Nursery. You will know that it is now Tower Hamlets Labour Party policy that the Council should continue to provide these as directly run day nurseries which include provision for children with a range of special needs and prioritise places for single parent families and those on low incomes. 

The recent consultation on privatisation received an active response from residents who obviously care a great deal about protecting the resources already in place for families in a borough with now 53.4% child poverty. The Mayor campaigned with a commitment to Early Years within his manifesto but one of the first acts of the council has been to increase renumeration for councillors and close nurseries? Both of these acts would not have been popular with voters.

It is a shame the council does not see Early Years as a worthy public investment. Our children truly are our future and if we don’t look after them in the first 5 years the problems will only get more expensive to manage.

The best way to prevent rising crime, obesity and other health related issues, support women and single mothers, prevent children going into care and improve chances for education for all children is investment in Early Years. 

Mayor Biggs original proposal to privatise these nurseries or “reprovide them” seemed to many parents to be shrouded in spin. 20 years ago, our children’s services were fragmented. Provided by a network of PVIs and private companies, it was not a system that could properly support families facing the challenges which lead so many to poverty and children sometimes going into care.  Along came Sure Start, created hand in hand with the institutions on the front lines with civil servants and politicians, a great deal of research and investment went into these programs as they were seen as a way to deliver children out of poverty. 20 years later their development has led to many successful programs for early years.

These nurseries provide good quality affordable Early Years provision and have done so for years. The recent requires improvement from Ofsted for John Smith seems to have something to do with Ofsted not being informed by the council they had put a new manager in place. We need long term and stable solutions for families especially in the wake of the currently underfunded 30 hours scheme. These nurseries, up until quite recently were also listed in a publication from the council as holding special place for vulnerable children and in each nursery’s statement they state the prioritise children with additional needs and from child protection cases. The fees are much lower than other nurseries and the waiting lists for nurseries in Tower Hamlets is already very high. It is still not clear where these children will go?

Even the suggested place for children who are deaf with Children’s House, although a great nursery school is not the same as a day nursery with year round provision operating from 8-5:30 daily. Parents of children with additional needs will struggle to find holiday childcare.

The experience level of the staff at these nurseries is what makes them so great at delivering quality care for families from disadvantaged backgrounds and with learning difficulties.  They should not be compared to other nurseries in the borough. The ratios to child are higher and the staff are more experienced because they need to be to meet the additional demands of working with vulnerable children and those with additional needs. This makes them costlier, but it also means they can deliver what our most vulnerable children require. Any efforts to reduce cost could impact on the quality of care these children need.

This campaign has also been running since 2014. We ask for your support as you gave us back then as in Danny Hassell’s statement he clearly saw the value of these nurseries under Lutfur Rahman’s administration.

“Nurseries are a vital frontline service for children and their families, so I’m very pleased that Mayor Rahman has reversed his decision to close all council-run nurseries in the borough.

The parents who have been campaigning against this vicious cut have run a very strong campaign and they should be very proud of their work. The Labour Group will continue to support them and their families as we move forward.”

We are very pleased the four nurseries that faced closure will now remain open.” Danny Hassell (now cabinet member for Children, Schools and Young People)

Danny now thinks it is unfair that some children get places at these nurseries but not others. He also says he has not seen any evidence that these nurseries support children who are vulnerable. If that is the case, we would like to know why were they listed by the council as being for the most vulnerable? And why has this PDF now been taken down? Why has the nursery policy changed when there is a clear need for nursery places for vulnerable children in a borough with 53.4% child poverty?

Please reassure us that as my councillor you will follow the National Labour Party Policy of supporting Sure Start and help to keep these nurseries open and serving the most vulnerable children. As Tower Hamlets residents have stated within the consultation, we do not want to see these 3 day nurseries privatised or reprovided and certainly not closed!

Yours sincerely,


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