Sebright Children's Centre FAQs

Why is Sebright included in these proposals?

Sebright is one of the five children’s centres identified in the EY review as operating below the average 88% occupancy.

Three centres - Oldhill, Hillside and Fernbank - are in very close proximity. Making significant changes to all three centres presented a risk to having sufficient childcare places in the locality. The options were based on working towards maintaining sufficient provision to support children’s outcomes, and to enable parents to work. Reducing the childcare provision will reduce surplus places and support the remaining children’s centres to optimise occupancy.   

Sebright is located on the border with Tower Hamlets and attracts out of borough families. It is in close proximity to Mapledene Children’s Centre, which is at full capacity in comparison. 46% children are of Black and global majority heritage, 12% assessed as being in need, 40% are above average income.

The proposal presents an opportunity for an alternative provider to take over this provision. If an alternative provider is not found, it is proposed that the centre will close. In the event that it is closed, there are sufficient surplus places within the wider sector that parents could access. Vacancies across the childcare sector will continue to be monitored to ensure that the Council continues to meet its duty to ensure that there are sufficient places. 

What do the proposals mean for Sebright Children’s Centre?

We propose to close the centre, unless an alternative provider can be found by Autumn 2024 to take over its management by 2025. We intend to invite expressions of interest from alternative providers to manage Sebright Children’s Centre. This process will follow the Council’s procurement tender process advertising the opportunity, and inviting expressions of interest. Staff and service users would be kept informed of the outcome of the tender process. The chosen provider would be expected to deliver places with market fees. 

If an alternative provider cannot be secured by Autumn 2024, the centre will be closed. The staff consultation process would commence with a view to closing the centres by August 2025 to support transition of existing children to new settings at key transition points. This process would be managed through the Council’s procurement framework and staff and service users would be kept informed of the outcome of the tender process.

When would the changes come into effect? 

The timeline is subject to the outcome of the consultation. However, the proposals could be implemented in January 2025 at the earliest, or September 2025 at the latest, depending on the outcome of any expressions of interest to manage the children’s centres. The timeline will coincide with the expansion of the government-funded early years entitlement, which may make managing the centres a more attractive opportunity. 

If the proposals are approved and an alternative provider is not found, when would Sebright Children’s Centre close?

If an alternative provider cannot be secured, a staff consultation process will commence with a view to closing the centres by August 2025 to support transition of existing children to new settings at key transition points.  

How would an alternative provider be found? 

Through the Council’s procurement tender process advertising the opportunity, and inviting expressions of interest. 

How likely is it that an alternative provider will be found for Sebright? 

The current childcare market is unpredictable and subject to rapid change. Despite this, Hackney has remained attractive to providers wishing to open settings locally.   

Parents told us during the paused children’s centre consultation in 2021 that they would welcome an alternative provider being explored prior to any closures. Their feedback has been considered when shaping the current proposals.  

Would families and stakeholders have a say in the selection of an alternative provider? 

The process would be managed through the Council’s procurement framework. Staff and families will be kept informed of the outcome of the tender process, and a representative from each centre may be invited to sit on the interview panel for shortlisted candidates.

What will happen if an alternative provider is not found? 

If an alternative provider is not found the Council proposes to close Sebright Children’s Centre.   

Why were Fernbank and Sebright selected for potential closure? What is the criteria for selecting these two centres, and for not selecting other centres?  

The two centres were selected based on low occupancy in comparison to other centres, cost, location and ability to be developed into a children and family hub. 

What will happen to the buildings of children’s centres that close?

Fernbank building would be handed back to the NHS to lease to an alternative provider.  Sebright will be considered as part of the Council's corporate estate plans.

How will parents and families be engaged and supported through the process if Sebright closes? Will the Council help families currently using the children centres find alternatives for their childcare? How many families would be affected if any of the two centres (Fernbank and Sebright) close?

We recognise the impact of these proposals on children and their families and we are committed to supporting families through the process as much as possible.  Each centre will be allocated an officer to work closely with them to identify the needs of parents and carers, identify vacant places and broker a place at an alternative setting. 

Some of the children currently attending Fernbank and Sebright Children’s Centres will have started school by the time any decision about closure is reached; other children may have moved out of the borough. A full understanding of how many children affected by closure will therefore be mapped at the time of reaching a decision. 

Fernbank has capacity for 60 full time equivalent children, and Sebright 54 full time equivalent. This means that if all places are occupied by full time children (which is not currently the case), 105 children could be impacted. If part time children are in attendance, up to 200 children could be impacted - however, neither centre is currently full and attendance numbers vary at different times of the year.  

How will staff be supported and how many members of staff will be affected by the Fernbank and Sebright proposals?

Approximately 23 posts at Fernbank and 20 posts at Sebright may be impacted by the proposals. However, some staff are on fixed term or agency contracts.  

Staff who are affected by any changes will be supported by our human resources team and will have the opportunity for redeployment into vacant positions, where these exist, in other Council-run centres; they will have access to the Council’s full redeployment list; or, separately, they can apply for roles in centres and nurseries across the borough, where they exist. Any potential redeployment opportunities into other children’s centres, should these proposals be implemented, will take place when the proposed changes take effect, alongside redundancy opportunities.

The Council will continue to work closely with Unions in assessing the full impact on staff.

This page was last modified on: 30 Jan 2024