By Councillor Helen Godwin.
I wanted to respond quickly to rumours that are circulating around Southmead that the Badock’s Wood Children’s Centre is under threat of closure. This is not the case. Just over a year ago the Mayor and I made the promise to keep all of our 21 children’s centres in the city open. I plan to keep this promise.
Badock’s Wood Children’s Centre has had a tricky recent history though. As you will know until recently the centre was managed by Badock’s Wood Primary School. When the school was rated as inadequate by OFSTED current law meant that it then had to be academised. The relationship between the school and children’s centre then had to be separated. It quickly became clear that the children’s centre had been very poorly managed from a financial perspective and was running a very large financial deficit. The council acted quickly and asked Henbury and Brentry Children’s Centre to run the centre for a period of time to ensure continuity for families and also to help us to assess the severity of the financial situation. Unfortunately, some months later, the decision has been made that certain aspects of the service cannot continue at this time. These services are the baby room (0-2), paid childcare, wraparound care, and the centre will not be able to provide food any longer. I understand that this will have an impact on many families in the area; as a working mum myself I rely on childcare and wraparound care in order to do my job. I have asked Bristol City Council if we can share some information on alternative childcare providers.
The baby room is particularly expensive to run because of the high ratios of staff to children that are required by law. Unfortunately government funding does not take these ratios in account and therefore it is very difficult to make this room break-even financially. There are other complications that make this decision the only option for the Centre at this moment in time, however we are keen to continue to improve the financial situation so that we can return to a situation where we offer paid childcare at Badocks Wood and I will keep all residents informed as this conversation progresses.
In the meantime I want to be very clear that the Children’s Centre does remain open for a whole host of activities for families and I am hoping to be able to share a summer timetable in The Mead in the next few days.
If residents have particular concerns or worries about the Children’s Centre please feel free to contact me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org or catch me in the Greenhouse Café at the Greenway Centre.
Cllr Helen Godwin
Cabinet Member for Women, Children and Families and Children’s Services
T: 07774 012 839