Nursery- service charge to bring a packed lunch

(100 Posts)
strongagain1985 Mon 20-Jan-14 19:33:23

AIBU to be surprised that the nursery (attached to a primary school) my 4 year old dd attends, charges £1.75 for children to bring a packed lunch in? If the child has a school dinner then it's £2.75. What do you make of this?

PedlarsSpanner Mon 20-Jan-14 19:34:47


on the make I think, squeezing extra ££

Shitty really

NinjaBunny Mon 20-Jan-14 19:37:32


You've misheard, surely?


strongagain1985 Mon 20-Jan-14 19:38:27

I'm glad it's not just me then.

Well most nursery children I know of don't stay for lunch, so I think you are paying for the supervision/room/cleaning.

hwjm1945 Mon 20-Jan-14 19:38:47

i would question the legality of this - are they saying child cannot eat on premsies unless pay for it?

strongagain1985 Mon 20-Jan-14 19:40:30

She gets 15 hours free so she does two days, 9:00am-3:25pm. They charge the same for the kids in the primary school

BikeRunSki Mon 20-Jan-14 19:40:44

Surely that is the supervision cost of him bring there over lunch time, ie: between sessions?

BillyNotQuiteNoMates Mon 20-Jan-14 19:40:58

Surprising in some ways, but when you think that school meals cost less than a £1 for the actual food and the rest pays for the lunchtime staff maybe they aren't so far off the mark. Children taking a packed lunch still benefit from the staff in the playground (obviously, not the kitchen staff). I actually think £1 is fair. I'd hate to pay it, but I don't really see why other parents should have to pay more to cover my DCs lunchtime cover. The more children who take a packed lunch, the more subsidy that needs to be covered.

BikeRunSki Mon 20-Jan-14 19:41:16

Sorry, her, not him.

strongagain1985 Mon 20-Jan-14 19:41:37

I wondered regarding the legality, how would I go about trying to find out?

Sirzy Mon 20-Jan-14 19:41:53

The sessions won't run over dinner therefore you are paying for the staff to look after more than anything.

Sirzy Mon 20-Jan-14 19:42:34

Perfectly legal. They can charge for things above the normal free hours.

strongagain1985 Mon 20-Jan-14 19:43:03

I thought dinner ladies were paid wages to do their job

BingoWingsBeGone Mon 20-Jan-14 19:43:21

We paid £1.50 for the lunchtime 1/2hr as 9-12 and 12-3.30 were the funded sessions.

All packed lunches as no kitchen

moogy1a Mon 20-Jan-14 19:43:53

They are NOT allowed to do this under the early years funding agreement. They MUST give you the option of bringing in a lunch for no extra charge.
This is very clear in the legislation for all councils brought in. In september

BingoWingsBeGone Mon 20-Jan-14 19:44:08

Sorry 12.30-3.30 that should read

Can you not use the remainder of the free 15 hours to pay for it? As you only use 12.5?

strongagain1985 Mon 20-Jan-14 19:44:52

It's not above the normal free hours, the 1/2 lunch time is included in the free hours. She only uses13 hours out of the 15 including lunch

Are you not paying for the 'care'.

I work in a setting where £2 is charged if the child brings a packed lunch to lunch club.

Sirzy Mon 20-Jan-14 19:45:30

You can't use the full 15 hours over just 2 days, it has to be at least 3 (I think)

goldenlula Mon 20-Jan-14 19:45:53

You are paying for the supervision for the dinner hour, vouchers do not cover this hour.

moogy1a Mon 20-Jan-14 19:45:55

Pull them up on it. Get a copy of the funding agreement from your council

moogy1a Mon 20-Jan-14 19:46:58

Yes you can. As long as the session is longer than 10 hours.

JabberJabberJay Mon 20-Jan-14 19:47:20

Unless you've been specifically informed that this surcharge is to cover lunchtime supervision, I think it's outrageous.

At my DCs nursery, those that do only funded hours have the option of either paying extra for a hot lunch or bringing in a packed lunch for no extra charge.

goldenlula Mon 20-Jan-14 19:47:25

Or half hour in your case, plus I believe you can only use 12 hrs over 2 days, 15 hrs over a minimum of 3 days.

Sirzy Mon 20-Jan-14 19:47:27

Maybe it differs from area to area but you certainly can't here.

moogy1a Mon 20-Jan-14 19:47:41

Yes you can. As long as the session is longer than 10 hours.

ENormaSnob Mon 20-Jan-14 19:47:53

You are not even getting your full 15hours.

We pay for lunchtime supervision on top of the 15 hours but thats regardless of packed packed lunch vs school dinner.

moogy1a Mon 20-Jan-14 19:48:10

No sirzy. It covers the whole of England.

Sirzy Mon 20-Jan-14 19:48:55

No moogy it doesn't. Golden has just said exactly the same. I checked it when DS was starting his funded hours.

strongagain1985 Mon 20-Jan-14 19:50:50

So AIBU then?

CrohnicallySick Mon 20-Jan-14 19:51:57

A quick google brought this up.
A) it says you CAN use your hours over 2 days
B) it says providers can charge for optional extras, I would say that in the context of a school nursery which usually provides sessions 9-12 and 12:30-3:30 or whatever, the lunch time is an optional extra (and you would be entitled to another half day session free if you chose)

moogy1a Mon 20-Jan-14 19:52:41

This is the same legislation nationwide.
Council nurseries may choose to open certain times but cms and private nurseries can offer the sessions in any way they wish.
Look at FAQ. "What days and times can I have the free hours for my child"

goldenlula Mon 20-Jan-14 19:52:54

Up until July, I know that you could only use 12 hrs over 2 days in our area, my friend's son did this and they had to pay for his lunch hour each day.

strongagain1985 Mon 20-Jan-14 19:52:57

If it's for lunchtime supervision, is that normal then? First child so all of this is new to me.

nannynick Mon 20-Jan-14 19:53:24

The free education time I suspect is not including the lunch period. So I would expect that the fee is due to the staff time over that lunch period. For 9am-3.25pm, 2 days per week, have you been told how many funded hours that is? It may be 6. Such as two sessions of 3 hours (9-12) (12.25-3.25).

You can contact you local Early Years/Free Entitlement Team, based at your county council (or local council if they administer the free education entitlement) for further information about what the free entitlement covers. You should first get confirmation from the nursery on what they are charging you for and what parts of the day are funded.

Council website will often have details on it about things like Local Code of Practice (link goes to Surrey County Council, should you be in my area - Surrey).
"Before parents/legal guardians take up a funded place you must tell them in writing:
- about charges for any extra time
- the charges for extra services including snacks and/or lunch"
So you may well already have the information you need in a welcome pack or other documents/emails from the nursery which you got before/when starting.

moogy1a Mon 20-Jan-14 19:54:08

Using your 15 hours in 2 lots means op is having one 7.5 hour session each day. They cannot charge any extras unless the nursery provides lunch

Cranky01 Mon 20-Jan-14 19:55:19

Eating lunch is not considered education so therefore is not allowed to be included in the funded hours

nannynick Mon 20-Jan-14 19:56:56

YANBU to question it. The information should have been given to you when you started/before starting.

moogy1a Mon 20-Jan-14 19:57:48

Cranky, with all due respect and. All that but you're very wrong.
Eating a lunch, learning table manners and learningg how to make healthy food choices is an important part of the eyfs.
Eating lunch OS's part of the funndeedd hours.

strongagain1985 Mon 20-Jan-14 20:00:42

They are not providing the lunch, they are providing a premises to eat it in. Surely they can't charge £1.70 per day, per child for that? No extra hours over the entitlement taken.

moogy1a Mon 20-Jan-14 20:03:49

Look on the county rules. These are direct from the legislation
" no one can make you pay for a meal if you choose not to"
This includes charging for food YOU provide.
Cheeky sods

Shamoy Mon 20-Jan-14 20:04:05

My kids pre school (along with most others I know) runs 3 hour 'sessions' to make up the free hours.
9-12 is a session, 12.30-3.30 is a session. If you send them over lunch you pay an extra £1.75
You are most likely using 4 sessions (12 hours) and paying for the lunch bit
If you only want the free bits then you'll need to do 5 mornings or 5 afternoons and skip the lunch times

CrohnicallySick Mon 20-Jan-14 20:05:19

I work in a school with attached nursery. The nursery offers 2x 3 hour sessions per day. We do not offer any sort of supervision over lunch.

However, if we did, I would imagine it would be a separate 'thing' to the nursery education, run rather like a breakfast or after school club. Something for the convenience of working parents, not part of the school/nursery day, and therefore need to charge to cover costs incurred- including staff and cleaning.

So it sounds like you are receiving 4x free 3hr sessions, plus 'lunchtime club' so that you don't have to pick up and return your child over lunch. If this is the case you are entitled to another 3hr session free.

Cranky01 Mon 20-Jan-14 20:09:25

Oh I agree that lunch is a learning experience but, you have to have a break between the funded hours, i.e a morning session and an afternoon sessions.

You also have to allocate the hours that you are receiving funded money for, and declare them to the local authority when you sign the terms and conditions of receiving the funding.

CrohnicallySick Mon 20-Jan-14 20:09:49

It's a bit like leaving your child at after school club 4 days a week, and then saying that you don't have to pay because your child doesn't go to school on Fridays.

Yes, you're entitled to the free education. But that is within the constraints of the setting, if they offer 2 separate 3 hour sessions you can't then say that you are claiming 7.5 hours of funding that day to cover lunch.

IrisWildthyme Mon 20-Jan-14 20:09:56

It's reasonable to charge a small sum to cover clearing up after the kids which will be quite extensive, but £1.75 seems rather too steep - 50p-£1 would be more reasonable.

LittleprincessinGOLDrocks Mon 20-Jan-14 20:10:26

We have to pay £5 a day for DS to stay at lunchtime. He takes his own lunch due to allergies the school can not cater for. I don't think it is fair as the other children get a meal included in their £5 charge, where as we pay for his lunch on top, but apparently we pay for the child care not the lunch.

Breezy1985 Mon 20-Jan-14 20:11:24

I used to have to pay for this in my DS school nursery, he's at school now. the sessions were 9-12 and 12.15-3.15. Those 15 minutes were £2.

Cranky01 Mon 20-Jan-14 20:12:36

Ironically the break between the funded sessions are to allow children to go home to eat lunch and bit miss ou on any education. (It's all about arse a bout face) but it's government money do they don't really want you to have it

Cranky01 Mon 20-Jan-14 20:13:20

*not miss

MerylStrop Mon 20-Jan-14 20:14:18

Your entitlement to 15 hours is broken into 3 hour sessions.

If the sessions are say 9 - 12 and 12.30- 3.30, the lunchtime supervision is additional and has to be paid for .

If you are saying your 3 hour session is 9 -12 and 12 - 3 and they are trying to charge you for 12.00 - 12.30 for instance then you have grounds for querying the charge.

lilyaldrin Mon 20-Jan-14 20:15:09

At DS's nursery I think the free sessions are 9-12 and 12-30-3.30. If you want your child to stay over lunch you have to pay for that 30 minutes - about £2 I think - and either bring a packed lunch or pay for school dinner.

If you want the hours completely free there is the option to do 5 mornings or 5 afternoons.

Viviennemary Mon 20-Jan-14 20:16:21

It sounds grim. And not sure they are allowed to do this if it's run by the Local Authority.

strongagain1985 Mon 20-Jan-14 20:17:05

Thanks for clarifying. It just surprised me as I don't remember anything like this when I was younger. As it is a primary school they also charge the primary school kids the same. For school I thought the dinner ladies were paid a wage and it was their job to supervise at lunchtime? I must be behind with the times

lilyaldrin Mon 20-Jan-14 20:19:20

It's common for local authority nurseries here if you choose to take your hours over a lunch time Viviennemary - they only get 15 hours funding so lunch staff have to be paid.

nannynick Mon 20-Jan-14 20:22:11

No extra hours over the entitlement taken.

Though you have not said exactly how many free education hours have been allocated.

That is the key information here I feel, as you seem to be thinking that 9am-3.25pm x 2 = all free entitlement as less than 15 hours. It doesn't in my view. At best it equals 12 hours, 50 minutes but it could easily be 12 hours, leaving you with 50 minutes to pay.

So I feel you need to get the number of funded hours per week clarified, then take things from there.

OddFodd Mon 20-Jan-14 20:23:37

Children who are in FT funded education should not be charged for taking in a packed lunch!

And actually when DS was at pre-school, they never charged me for him to eat his packed lunch because it was the same staff who covered lunch - there was no separate 'dinner lady' system because it was only 30 mins (or 25 mins in your case).

Mine was a private pre-school though. You may want to see if the private pre-schools charge

CrohnicallySick Mon 20-Jan-14 20:26:28

Yes, the dinner ladies are paid a wage.

However, there is only so much money in the pot! Certainly, the kitchen staff need to be paid for out of school dinner money as they wouldn't be there if it wasn't for children having school dinners. Outside contractors usually do the dinners and charge a set price for food and catering staff, presumably they make this the same for the nursery children.

Lunchtime supervisors- the ones who watch the children eat and on the playground- are paid out of school funds and I think funding depends on the number of children on roll. Nursery children won't count for the purposes of funding, only full time pupils, which explains why the parents need to pay some towards lunchtime supervision.

The nursery is also usually a separate building/unit, and the children not allowed to mix with the school children, which means you need more staff to go round. As an extreme example, if there was one child staying for lunch you would need 1 member of staff to supervise (though 2 would be preferable in case of emergency/protection from allegations on both sides). If that 1 child was on the playground with all the other children, you wouldn't need any more staff as the ratio would probably still be met.

As for not remembering stuff when you were younger, for a start you weren't entitled to as many as 15 hours free. And it wasn't as flexible as today. If I remember correctly, it used to be 12.5 hours per week, and school nurseries offered you a morning or afternoon place.

CrohnicallySick Mon 20-Jan-14 20:28:05

Oddfodd- the OP's child is PT not FT.

strongagain1985 Mon 20-Jan-14 20:32:44

CrohnicallySick, thanks for taking the time to post but you come across as arsey. The school are quite poor at explaining things and then get offended if you try to ask questions.

Are you allowed to run back to back sessions? Our preschool the sessions are 9-12 and 12-3. No extra charge for staying over lunch. You can opt for your child to do 9-1 and pay £4 for the extra hour.

MerylStrop Mon 20-Jan-14 20:36:05

They probably have to employ an additional lunchtime worker, plus allocate a share of cleaning costs, overheads etc.

The cost seems a bit high, but if it is for half an hour it is prob based on the £3.50 per hourly rate that the govt. funds for the preschool sessions.

notso Mon 20-Jan-14 20:36:06

I've never heard of this, but I've never heard of anyone in a State nursery having the entitlement in full days. All the schools I have worked in or visited you choose morning or afternoon and then if you wish pay for the other session.

maxybrown Mon 20-Jan-14 20:37:00

she is saying that they charge the whole school, not just nursery children though!! So the hours thing there is irrelevant!

my son attended the school nursery he did 2 and a half days and no charge for lunch. I've worked in primary schools for years and never heard of this!

maxybrown Mon 20-Jan-14 20:38:12

Our state school nursery did away with afternoons the year my son started Reception and now offer mornings or 2 and a half days only.

WooWooOwl Mon 20-Jan-14 20:38:58

Nurseries and pre schools are running on a shoestring at the moment, they really are.

This nursery isn't trying to fleece you, it's trying to keep itself viable.

ToffeeOwnsTheSausage Mon 20-Jan-14 20:40:23

At my children's previous school school dinner was £3.50 per day per child but if you brought in a packed lunch you had to pay £1.50 per child per day.

QOFE Mon 20-Jan-14 20:40:45

DS goes to nursery for 10 hours on one day and 5 on another - the nursery we use let you choose whether you want 3 x 5 or 5 x 3 hour sessions to make up the 15 hours.

He has a packed lunch both days and its never been suggested that I pay extra for it confused

CrohnicallySick Mon 20-Jan-14 20:44:35

I missed the bit about the school charging the same, I read it as the school dinner price being the same as nursery (sorry, when I'm tired I find it hard to process things correctly).

My comments about paying for lunchtimes at nursery still stand, however as oddfodd said they shouldn't be charging school pupils, the money for lunchtime supervision should come out of the school budget.

MerylStrop Mon 20-Jan-14 20:45:19

They charge the primary school kids?

Unlikely this is allowed. Schools can't charge for something that is compulsory.

CrohnicallySick Mon 20-Jan-14 20:47:38

Try googling the school name and 'charging policy', most schools have the policy available online.

Draughts Mon 20-Jan-14 20:49:01

I can see why it would sting & they really should take the time to explain clearly why they are charging you.

DS3 does 9.30 - 2.30 three days a week, taking in a packed lunch. I do not pay for the lunch period as it is in his 15 hours.

NewNameforNewTerm Mon 20-Jan-14 20:51:31

Our school runs a lunch club especially for nursery and it costs extra, but it is an additional childcare facility. Our nursery sessions are mornings 8.30am - 11.30 or afternoons 12.30 - 3.30. To make it easier for parents who are working or need additional childcare, and to facilitate the transfer between other childcare providers we set up lunch sessions. Some morning children stay on and some afternoon children come early, before their 12.30 start time. We can provide a hot lunch from the main school's kitchens or children can bring their own packed lunch. But which ever they select additional supervision needs to be funded. Nursery is not main school where the children are full time and lunch cover is part of the educational "package", so to expect it for free is not reasonable.

strongagain1985 Mon 20-Jan-14 20:55:07

Just looked online and they have a school prospects and under the Charging and Remissions section they only state the cost of the school meals nothing about the charge to bring a packed lunch in.

CrohnicallySick Mon 20-Jan-14 20:57:16

So where did you hear about the school charging to bring in packed lunch?

CrohnicallySick Mon 20-Jan-14 20:58:19

Oh, I've just had a thought, is it a regular state primary or is it a newfangled academy or suchlike?

strongagain1985 Mon 20-Jan-14 21:00:04

It's a regular state primary school. I found out when I got a note to say please pay x amount for lunchtime

CrohnicallySick Mon 20-Jan-14 21:00:51

But that relates to your daughter in nursery. Do you have anything in writing relating to the charging at school?

CrohnicallySick Mon 20-Jan-14 21:03:14

If the first you heard of it is when you were asked to pay, I'd put in a complaint to the governors, the charges should be transparent. Like this one.

You will probably still be liable to pay while she's at nursery, however they should state it upfront as it may influence parents' decision on which nursery to send their child to.

NewNameforNewTerm Mon 20-Jan-14 21:04:14

What I'm trying to say is school and nursery (even a nursery class in the school) can be very different things. If parents expected everything that is in main school to be in nursery they would be very disappointed. e.g. trips, weekly swimming lessons, after school sports and music clubs - all available and free in reception upwards, but not on offer to nursery.

strongagain1985 Mon 20-Jan-14 21:04:32

It's in the news letters reminding parents that they need to pay weekly. That's the only other place I have seen it.

strongagain1985 Mon 20-Jan-14 21:06:43

It's not stated anywhere else and certainly isn't transparent

CrohnicallySick Mon 20-Jan-14 21:07:20

But is it a school newsletter, or is it a nursery newsletter?

The point(s) I'm trying to get at is whether a) it might be a misunderstanding such as the one I made earlier, and main school do not charge to bring packed lunches in, only for dinners
Or b) if you have something in writing that says that main school children have to pay to bring in a packed lunch, I'm pretty sure this isn't allowed and LEA/OFSTED or whatever should be informed.

MerylStrop Mon 20-Jan-14 21:07:47

Why not just ask them politely what the charge is for, and how it is calculated?

You could point out that this way not made clear, if you felt strongly about it, especially if it is unaffordable for you.

jacks365 Mon 20-Jan-14 21:09:45

I've just double checked how it works at my local school nursery and their sessions run 8.30-11.30 and 12.30-3.30 children can stay over lunch at a lunchtime club but fee for that is £3.00 and no option of including it within free provision. The school does not charge it's pupils only the nursery. The local private nursery will do 2 days of 7.5 hours with no extra charge if packed lunch sent in.

strongagain1985 Mon 20-Jan-14 21:10:16

Sorry for not being clear. It's in the school news letter that all children get including nursery children.

CrohnicallySick Mon 20-Jan-14 21:15:46

Is the reminder aimed only at nursery children? Or could it be worded badly and is in fact referring to school dinners and nursery packed lunches/dinners? But makes it sound like school and nursery packed lunches?

I'm just finding it hard to believe that a school (not nursery) could get away with charging, when I was googling earlier one of the first hits was a DM piece on the possibility of a school charging- surely if this school is indeed charging the DM would have a field day?!

strongagain1985 Mon 20-Jan-14 21:28:35

The reminder isn't just for the nursery it's defiantly for everyone. The exact prices are Nursery £2.75 for school lunch, £1.75 to bring your own. Primary School- £1.75 for school lunch and £1 to bring your own.

Migsy1 Mon 20-Jan-14 21:35:33

So what if your child didn't eat as a result? Would you pay for supervision?sounds most strange.

CrohnicallySick Mon 20-Jan-14 21:40:40

I thought you said the school charged the same?

Debs75 Mon 20-Jan-14 21:43:17

I pay £1.50 for DD3 to stay and have a packed lunch one day a week.
Yes it's an extra cost but it isn't extortionate and worth it for the supervision.
She loves staying all day and feels very grown up with her packed lunch

Debs75 Mon 20-Jan-14 21:45:34

They shouldn't charge for bringing in a packed lunch for primary aged children though as they have to be there all day anyway

Lucylouby Mon 20-Jan-14 22:36:46

Have I read correctly that the primary school children who bring sandwiches are also charged the same fee for bringing in a packed lunch? I wouldn't be happy, but budgets have been slashed and I guess the money for lunch time supervisors has to be found from somewhere.

Lucylouby Mon 20-Jan-14 22:38:26

Sorry, I didn't notice that the thread had four pages, I only read the first one. I have now read the remaining pages and have answered my own questions. blush

nannynick Tue 21-Jan-14 19:00:03

I wonder what happens in September. "From September 2014, all children in reception, year 1 and year 2 in state-funded schools in England will be eligible for free school meals." (Source)
Will the school then charge everyone a pound, as the meal will be funded but the staff time may not be!

As the nursery is linked/part of the school, I feel you need to go to the board of governors of the school, with regard to the fee charged for infant/primary school aged children who bring a packed lunch.

Once that discussion has started then fees for other things can be looked at. The board of governors needs to look at the fees anyway as from September (if you are in England) the universal infant free schools meals system kicks in... so they will need to look at who does and who does not pay for school lunch.

Jinty64 Tue 21-Jan-14 19:57:44

They shouldn't charge for bringing in a packed lunch for primary aged children though as they have to be there all day anyway

Or parents could take them home for lunch and supervise them themselves.

Debs75 Tue 21-Jan-14 21:42:37

Yes JInty they could but I think the majority of schools realise that most parents aren't in a position to pick children up every dinnertime

SoonToBeSix Tue 21-Jan-14 21:42:58

Yabu it's for the childcare/ supervision perfectly normal and good value.

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