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Free 15 hours at set times?

(22 Posts)
givemecaffeine21 Tue 12-Aug-14 12:58:59

I'm raising this with my LA but wondered if anyone has come across this. I mentioned before that the nursery we wanted to use charges top up fees on the funding working out at an extra £10 a session. I see that they do offer entirely 'free' sessions but these are between 3-6pm at night which is a fairly silly time of day to send them IMHO.

Has anyone faced this? I'm going to challenge it.

Mumof3xox Tue 12-Aug-14 12:59:57

Tbh I don't think you can challenge it

They offer free hours 3-6pm

It's entirely up to them how they offer it

hollie84 Tue 12-Aug-14 13:01:00

So long as they offer the free hours they can offer them when they like I think.

Can you not find an LA nursery or a community pre-school rather than a private nursery?

givemecaffeine21 Tue 12-Aug-14 13:09:35

What I don't understand though is how they say they offer the funding and brand the other sessions as funded provided you pay the top up then do free later in the day....the earlier sessions are free or not, surely. If they were just calling the pm session free fair enough, but they're saying their hours in general are funded.

There are other nurseries yes, but due to certain circumstances my DD gets the funding aged 2 which is totally free but they tell me I have to pay from age 3. Doesn't add up. It means I'll have to move her in a year as they are the only one with places free who take from age 2.

BackforGood Tue 12-Aug-14 13:13:14

I believe that a business can choose to offer whatever it likes. It's then up to the customer if they use that business or not.
I agree that it seems an unlikely time to want a 3 hour session, but, that said, if you have a child booked in to Nursery for the day, or half day, then it would be great to get 3 of those hours for free.
If you aren't looking for childcare, but more of a play-group type set up, then perhaps you need to look around a bit further.
In our LA (and I think it's common across the country) the amount the LA gives the Nursery for the "free" hours, is considerably lower than they would get if being paid for a place by fee paying parents. They have to balance their books to pay their staff and all the bills.

givemecaffeine21 Tue 12-Aug-14 13:30:45

I agree with the above but according to this article in a The Guardian they simply should not be doing it:

www.theguardian.com/education/2012/may/22/parents-top-up-fees-nursery-mps

LIZS Tue 12-Aug-14 13:34:09

Unless it is a State-run nursery they are entitled to plan the day and sessions as they wish. It may be playing a funding game to an extent as those with school age children will want siblings cared for during those hours but in the end you can chose whether to sue them or not.

BackforGood Tue 12-Aug-14 13:37:59

My last post was written before your last post was posted, but it doesn't really change anything. Nor does the article link.

You are absolutely right they aren't allowed to charge top up fees. By top up, I would read "You have to pay £3ph as the LA only give us £3.50 an hour and our usual fee is £6.50 an hour". But, if I've interpreted your OP correctly (forgive me if I haven't, as this may well then become poppycock) to say that you can have 15hours without charge, but that it is only available between 3pm and 6pm.
Well, if I've read that right, it's odd for sure, but not breaking any regulations that I can see.

OutDamnSpot Tue 12-Aug-14 13:43:22

I think this is fairly standard. You can have 15 hours in 5 x 3 hour blocks of their choosing, so no top up charged. Or you can pay extra to have longer / different hours on top of the funding.

Most private nurseries schedule the free hours to make them as unappealing as possible as the money they get doesn't cover their costs but with the top up hours paid for by parents, nursery can get usual money and parents can get a discount.

If you just want 15 free hours, something that only runs for the hours you want (pre school maybe) is usually better than a private nursery.

BikeRunSki Tue 12-Aug-14 13:45:28

It sounds like they have timed the free hours so as to put a lot if people off, because they probably don't really want yo do it.

Our nursery just knocks the equivalent of 15 hrs per week off our bill.

Mumof3xox Tue 12-Aug-14 14:13:59

I don't think it's a case of them not wanting to do it. If they didn't want to do it they could opt out. Accepting the funding isn't compulsory?

They are probably doing it at that time of day as some children leave around then and so it is more cost efficient

DeWee Tue 12-Aug-14 15:38:02

I didn't think they were allowed to charge top off fees?

But the set times isn't totally ridiculous if they have less call for those hours, it really makes sense in a lot of ways. You can pay over for the peak times, and less for off peak-lots of things operate like that.

givemecaffeine21 Tue 12-Aug-14 16:37:13

Actually I've got the fees in front of me and it clearly sets out what's free and what isn't i.e. £5.10 free, x amount not free, and then what parent pays (the 'funded fee' is the same as the local non-funded nursery!) My LA are interested and have asked for a copy. I think there are loopholes they're slipping through, and LA can ignore if they choose or challenge. We'll see.

givemecaffeine21 Tue 12-Aug-14 18:57:17

Just to add the free sessions are stand alone meaning you cannot add them on to say a morning session you pay for, so it would be a case of taking your child at 3 and collecting them at 6.

hollie84 Tue 12-Aug-14 20:16:10

Many nurseries offer certain hours as totally free (in your example 3-6pm) or will let you have three hours off another longer session, so will just knock 15x39 hours off your total bill.

tobysmum77 Fri 15-Aug-14 08:02:31

I thought that the 'free' hours were specifically for preschool provision and that the children are meant to be present for v the hours. I would be interested personally to see the quality at 5.45 of this.

May be worth checking out with the EFA I think.

BackforGood Fri 15-Aug-14 11:34:52

tobysmum - there's "3yr funding" (ie the pre-school hours that EVERY pre-schooler is entitled to) but there's also the "2yr funding" which has qualifying criteria.

JustAnotherYellowBelly Fri 15-Aug-14 11:46:22

I may have got the wrong end of the stick so apologies...
Around here one of the qualifying criteria for 2yo hours is that you don't have much money therefore it's meant to give children from lower income families the same chances as their more affluent peers...
Isn't this just completely missing the point? Pay more (which you can't afford) so that your children can get these opportunities or get the shit sessions that are neither use nor ornament for most, when child is grouchy and cannot make the most of the opportunity.

Yes it's probably legal but it's still wrong

givemecaffeine21 Fri 15-Aug-14 20:15:16

I agree justanother

Finances aren't our reason and I'm not comfortable going into it on a public site, but I do think if nurseries are going to be in on the scheme they should adhere to certain rules. In the case of this nursery, they get funded by the LA for the sensible hours but then charge the parents a whopping top up (their fees for top up are what you'd pay anyway if you weren't funded)...so it's win-win for them, as I don't know of many, if any, people who would think a free 3-6pm stand-alone session would be a good plan. All the kids I know start having meltdowns around 4-4.30pm! That is the time in my house where wind down tv happens and they go to bed at 6.30pm.

Anyway the LA say they're adhering to the 'rules' so it can't be challenged, which I suspected they would.

bberry Sat 16-Aug-14 12:32:21

Have you looked at local childminders too.... Some will also take the 2YO funded places.... Or other nurseries

Our nursery offers 9.30-2.30 for 2YO which I think is really great.... (sorry)

Dd starts I just 3 weeks... Eek!

tobysmum77 Sat 16-Aug-14 21:05:47

so is this about 2yo funded places? I thought it was preschool.

tobysmum77 Sat 16-Aug-14 21:10:24

sorry can see ref to 2yo hours further down. It stinks is my opinion, not least because it's hardly their best time of day. The funding still comes from the efa though so I would complain to them. They are the ones with the clout to remove all public funding from the nursery. Whether the nursery like it or not the parents do.

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