Wandsworth children’s services set for major revamp


Following an education and children’s services committee this week, changes to reduce the impact of the council’s £30m budget squeeze are planned.


By Joel Durston

Children’s services in Wandsworth are set for a major revamp.

Following an education and children’s services committee earlier this week, ‘bigger and brighter’ youth centres, new school buildings and streamlined special needs assessments are planned.

The developments are designed to reduce the impact of the council’s overall £30m budget squeeze.

Bolingbroke – a new free school, state funded but independently run – is to be opened in 2012, and there are plans to build another on the disused Putney Hospital site.

Elliot School in Putney will have a multi-million pound redevelopment, in addition to the £70m schemes in place at Burntwood School, Wandsworth, and Southfields School, Earlsfield.

The site of Nightingale School is to open its doors to pupils with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties.

This is in addition to the already impressive record of Wandsworth’s schools with 30 out of 80 – the highest proportion in the country – being currently ranked by OFSTED  as ‘outstanding’ and an average 64% A*-C GCSE grades.

Services for early years is also facing much change.

£200,000 will be spent on refurbishing the play areas in Tooting Common and Garratt Park, Earlsfield, and the council are teaming up with the Catch 22 Youth charity to provide after-school activities at the Alton Activity centre.

But the budget has gone down in total, meaning the crèche budget is subsumed into the individual children’s centres and other centres face closure or transfer.

Families with complex needs are to be assisted with a streamlining of the assessment of special needs, the appointment of an independent chairman for this and a new Family Recovery Plan – a support structure to intervene with families with extreme difficulties.

Extra capital funding is going towards developing the Tooting Hub, the Training Resource Centre, the Roehampton Base and Roehampton Youth Club and a new community youth grant scheme is being introduced to encourage submissions by easing the application process.

Cabinet member for education and children services, Cllr Kathy Tracey, said: “As a result of spending squeeze we face some difficult decisions on savings in all service areas.

 “We are now talking to a number of people about how to achieve savings whilst minimising the impact on local people,” she said. “We have a long history of finding imaginative ways to reduce costs by working creatively with private, voluntary and public sector partners.”

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