For those who weren’t aware, we, the Students’ Union, run the nursery on campus. The nursery has a number of spaces for children aged from nine months to five years - and these spaces are allocated to the children of staff, students and community members.
With this year marking the 10th anniversary of the nursery running under the management of Goldsmiths SU, it has been and continues to be a huge success, running at full capacity. We thought we’d take this opportunity to reflect on how the nursery came to be managed by the SU…
In the summer of 2010, the college gave three months’ notice that it intended to close the nursery, which was at that time operating at a loss.
However, over the course of the following year, a student protest against the closure gathered force with the support of students, college staff and the union Unison. MPs Simon Hughes and Joan Ruddock also backed the campaign.
This eventually led to the college’s senior management team agreeing to keep the nursery open for a year without admitting new children to register and a working party was set up to consider childcare support at the college. Campaigners led by staff and Sabbatical Officers in the SU drew up a business plan with the help of the nursery management team to show that the nursery could become a viable business.
After a year-long investigation by a working group which spanned across the whole institution, we decided to take over the management of the nursery. This new move included establishing a College fund for students with childcare responsibilities, regardless of whether they use the nursery or not. And 10 years on, the nursery is going from strength to strength!
Karen Roe, the Nursery Manager who has also just marked 20 years of working at the nursery, estimates that they’ve cared for approximately 500 children over that time.
She says: ‘When I started at the Nursery we had as little as 15 children present per day and now we are consistently completely full with up to 30 children per day. Some of these children are part time, therefore, we have around 44 on our register at any one time making use of our 30 daily spaces.’
The children enjoy a positive, nurturing and stimulating environment and the staff are happy, well supported and take the utmost pride in their work.
Most of the nursery staff have worked there since the SU began running it in September 2011, with some of them having worked there even longer. And some children who attended the nursery, many of whom are now in their late teens, will sometimes pop back for a visit. In fact last month a former child from the nursery came back for work experience - and she says it’s helped her to make a decision about studying after secondary school.
On her 20 years, Karen adds: ‘We as a Nursery team are so pleased with its success and hope that it thrives for many years to come!’