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Ofsted Director calls to scrap nursery subsidy for middle income families

(152 Posts)
Italiana Mon 03-Dec-12 09:03:59

Susan Gregory is calling for the 15 hours Free Entitlement to be scrapped for middle income families

This is a short preview in The Times today
www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/education/article3618366.ece

Italiana Mon 03-Dec-12 12:10:53
Brycie Mon 03-Dec-12 12:12:04

Good idea, except it might encourage people who can't afford more children to have them? Otherwise - great - target the help.

cakebar Mon 03-Dec-12 12:18:03

That would be a shame for all the 3 and 4 year olds who will no longer get to go to preschool, which undoubtably will be the effect. I'm sure we would be considered middle income and I would not/could not have paid more than 2 mornings max, whilst I was home with a baby for the older siblings.

Pootles2010 Mon 03-Dec-12 12:18:27

Think it's inevitable tbh. Not sure about her comments regarding qualifications for nursery staff - its more than a lot of people can afford as it is, surely the cost would make it impossible?

WidowWadman Mon 03-Dec-12 12:22:08

Is that those middle income families who earn too much to get any help in terms of CTC or WTC?

Great idea, all it will do is stopping the lower earning partner in a couple from returning to work, as childcare costs are higher than post-tax income.

It'll aid deskilling of valuable workers, lead to frustration, put undue pressure onto the single earner, and be a further disincentive to working.

And also mean that those children who don't get the funding may end up not being able to mix with other children in a group setting until they start school.

MrsPotato Mon 03-Dec-12 12:26:31

I'm really shocked by this and think it is an appalling idea. As a former nursery worker and current CM 3 and 4 year olds need that access to an early years setting. It is vital preparation from school and just the right age to access nursery. EYEE was set up to benefit ALL children. If EYEE is means tested children will miss out.

Most middle earners will be paying nursery fees on top of the EYEE as they are, er, working, so need the childcare. So nurseries get a lot of extra income by taking these children (which may go some way to redress the difference between what nurseries charge and what LAs pay for a funded place).

And why the obsession with funded sessions for 2 year olds taking place in nursery? Deprived/disadvantaged 2 year olds are so much better off with a good CM. They can build up an attachment much easier with a sole carer which provides much more security to children who often come from chaotic and difficult homes.

And as for the suggestion that 15 hours of mean tested childcare a week would encourage people to have more children.....where to start with this one?! Ridiculous!

Brycie Mon 03-Dec-12 12:28:14

"Great idea, all it will do is stopping the lower earning partner in a couple from returning to work, as childcare costs are higher than post-tax income.

It'll aid deskilling of valuable workers, lead to frustration, put undue pressure onto the single earner, and be a further disincentive to working.

And also mean that those children who don't get the funding may end up not being able to mix with other children in a group setting until they start school."

I woudln't say that any of this is the responsibility of the welfare state.

NightLark Mon 03-Dec-12 12:28:56

Noooooo. Dear god, I'm not a low earner, but childcare costs are crippling us. I am desperate for the free hours to kick in. We have no childcare at all that we don't buy in. Feck.

mamij Mon 03-Dec-12 12:31:26

I am sure we would be classified as middle income. I'm a SAHM, as we couldn't afford nursery fees for one let alone two children. DD1 (3yo) is at preschool 3 mornings, and I'm relying on the 15 hours free to coming into place, so that we can afford to keep her there!

WidowWadman Mon 03-Dec-12 12:37:34

Brycie "I woudln't say that any of this is the responsibility of the welfare state. "

Don't you think that overall the state profits more from getting two lots of taxes of a working couple, for who the funded 15 hours are just about enough to be able to afford the childcare needed for both to work, or is the state better off by having one parent at home, the child not getting any childcare at all (thus resulting in loss of business for the childcare provider)?

If it's not the responsibility of the welfare state to ensure that all children have an equal chance of access to a preschool setting, why should it be the responsibility of the state to ensure it only for some?

Brycie Mon 03-Dec-12 12:37:55

If you stay at home and don't work you don't need free nursery places, certainly not provided at taxpayer cost. Nightlark I would have some sympathy with but still, it gets easier as they get older.

Brycie Mon 03-Dec-12 12:38:58

"If it's not the responsibility of the welfare state to ensure that all children have an equal chance of access to a preschool setting, why should it be the responsibility of the state to ensure it only for some?"

It would make more of a difference in their life chances, that's why. Even things out.

MrsPotato Mon 03-Dec-12 12:40:53

Betcha, the free place may benefit SAHMs but the point is it is fr the child, regardless of parent's circumstances. So it is children who would be missing out, regardless of your opinion on their parents.

MrsPotato Mon 03-Dec-12 12:41:37

Brycie, did you know your name autocorrects into Betcha?!

Brycie Mon 03-Dec-12 12:43:39

Excellent grin that is my next name change

The child doesn't miss out that much from a free nursery place. Parents can make up the difference. They're not stupid and useless!j

MrsPotato Mon 03-Dec-12 12:48:24

Just because they're middle earners doesn't mean they're good parents. And most good parents aren't qualified in early years! At most nurseries children will be looked after by qualified staff who understand how children learn and the best ways support their learning and teach them.

MamaGeekChic Mon 03-Dec-12 12:51:37

Middle income hit again... we have no CTC/TC and soon no child benefit, now the 15hrs might go too as a couple with one high earner and one low earner DP may aswell just pack his job in. We had planned to have another baby once the free hours kick in as we can't afford me to be off work and pay full time childcare and we certainly couldnt afford full time childcare for 2- at c.£2k per month who can? (that's about £3k per month pre tax income!)

I feel sad that decisions like this impact on our ability to have careers and children when we work to do the right thing and set a good example, be self sufficient etc whereas the decision to have children can be taken much more lightly by others for whom their children are provided for by the state.

WidowWadman Mon 03-Dec-12 12:52:07

Brycie If you stay at home and don't work you don't need free nursery places, certainly not provided at taxpayer cost.

We don't get a free nursery place, we get 15 hours subsidised, the rest we pay ourselves. If I (or my husband) stayed at home and the children wouldn't go to nursery, the taxpayer would save the 15 subsidised hours, but also lose all mine (or my husband's) income tax, we would gain entitlement to benefits we currently don't have due to our earnings, so the net loss to tax payer would be bigger.

Brycie Mon 03-Dec-12 12:52:14

Sorry I just don't see it as the responsiblity of the welfare state. We can't afford it, we managed for many years without it, its period of existence doesn't seem to have improved outcomes visibly at say 11, or even arrival at school, with more and more arriving in nappies, unable to hang up a coat or sit sit for five minutes.

The only children to enjoy a real, active benefit would be those who are much more deprived at home and the chances are that would be in families with lower incomes.

Brycie Mon 03-Dec-12 12:53:35

"I feel sad that decisions like this impact on our ability to have careers and children when we work to do the right thing and set a good example, be self sufficient etc whereas the decision to have children can be taken much more lightly by others for whom their children are provided for by the state."

I totally agree with this but I think the answer is different ie lower taxes or better still! tax relief on childcare.

MamaGeekChic Mon 03-Dec-12 12:54:55

I also think that if they are being removed from middle/high earners they should be removed from any family where 1 parent isn't in full time employment.

GreenPetals Mon 03-Dec-12 12:59:10

But nursery funding isn't about giving free childcare to parents.
It's about giving a fairer chance to children who might not get the appropriate input at home. This has nothing to do with income at all.
So what they are saying is : well off parents look after their dcs in a way that is adequate to their development. Lower income families might not so we are going to fund those????

MamaGeekChic Mon 03-Dec-12 13:00:34

So perhaps free hours should only be accessible via social work/GP/HV referal then?

GreenPetals Mon 03-Dec-12 13:01:49

And no I don't agree that the only children who benefit are the ones who are from low income families because they are the ones who are 'deprived'.

Lots of things can be picked up in nursery, incl children who are being hit, SN, langauge issues etc... that would then be addressed for another 2 years....

GreenPetals Mon 03-Dec-12 13:02:48

mam why do you think a GP/HV/SS could make that judgement?

Ephiny Mon 03-Dec-12 13:04:29

Personally/selfishly I feel it's a shame, as (along with losing child benefit) it's another thing making it yet more difficult for us as a hardworking middle-income couple to consider having even one child.

It's not that I think I have a right to welfare state assistance to have a child, but the fact is a lot of families do get help. And we do seem to be in an awkward position of earning too much to qualify for any kind of benefits or tax credits, but not earning enough (after a considerable amount of tax!) to be able to afford to fund it ourselves.

AfterEightMintyy Mon 03-Dec-12 13:06:13

I wonder how much more money they think they can squeeze out of the middle incomers?

We're supposed to be moving to London with our work, despite being above average earners, I calculated every month we'd be in DEBT paying the necessities. DS2 will be 3 in Aug, that would have brought some relief to us. Already to do anything other than exist we'll have to use our savings, even more so now.

They can only squeeze the middle class so far, it's called getting blood from a stone. Will everyone just take it on the chin or actually do something about it? What can be done?

MamaGeekChic Mon 03-Dec-12 13:10:16

I don't necessarily think they are the right people- but who else? I accept that the country's finances mean that things like free hours at nursery are now a luxury we can ill-afford and the point has been made that these hours are not to provide free childcare but for the benefit of deprived/neglected children then the deciding factor shouldn't be income. I know plenty of people on 'low' incomes because one parent is at home who would still have access to these hours and continue to use them to give themselves a break whereas we for example wouldn't and DP would need to continue to work 6 days a week to pay for it so DD is therefore the one losing out, and as I mentioned before we would struggle to afford to have another baby while aforementioned 'low earning couple' continue to enjoy the luxury of a parent at home full time and 15 hours a week for the older child at nursery- doesn't seem fair.

Aboutlastnight Mon 03-Dec-12 13:11:23

Those 15 hours really benefited all my children, they have very happy memories of their nursery.

What we need is universal heavily subsidised childcare and two earners in a family who can share childcare/financial responsibilities.

If I hadn't managed to get DD3 into a subsidised nursery we would still be struggling financially and I was worried DP would be ill through a the pressure.

Subsidised nursery meant I could go to work and we are no longer in debt and are in a bigger flat.

It is utterly depressing that these precious hours of pre school education are under threat.

DorisIsWaiting Mon 03-Dec-12 13:14:27

Good god that's shocking.

I could not afford to start dd3 at preschool until the term after her 3rd birthday (whne funding kicked in) she's end of the year so she gets 3 terms in preschool before she starts school. How on earth do they think reception teachers will cope when they end up doing the socialisation etc that pre-school does. She's already disadvantaged as she's young in the year and had less time in the pre-school.

Just becasue a child has parents who are in work (which essentially will be what this boils down to) why should they be disadvantaged? Why not go back to the 12 hours free which we had before (with dd1).

Aboutlastnight Mon 03-Dec-12 13:14:41

And it's interesting that on mumsnet, middle income = child not with SN, being abused, or poorly parented. And therefore per school education not needed.

Brycie Mon 03-Dec-12 13:14:48

"What we need is universal heavily subsidised childcare and two earners in a family who can share childcare/financial responsibilities. "

I dont' see anything wrong with one parent mum or dad staying at home and everyone just getting along with less stuff. It's the way things used to work.

MamaGeekChic Mon 03-Dec-12 13:17:54

Brycie it's the way things used to work before it took 2 people to sustain a mortgage thanks to property prices that a totally out of sync with incomes. It's a reasonable argument for those who bought their first home prior to the property boom.

Aboutlastnight Mon 03-Dec-12 13:18:16

It used to be possible to raise a family on one income.

Not anymore.

Brycie Mon 03-Dec-12 13:19:28

Good point about the mortgages. I accept.

Aboutlastnight Mon 03-Dec-12 13:21:10

It's not about 'less stuff' it's about paying energy bills, for food and petrol.

That subsidy means that it can make financial sense for both patent ends to work - not in all cases but in many cases.

And pre school us beneficial to all children and to schools as it prepares children for primary.

Aboutlastnight Mon 03-Dec-12 13:21:50

Patent ends? Parents.

Climbingpenguin Mon 03-Dec-12 13:21:59

They really don't want those pesky mothers working do they. Force them to stay out the workforce for longer and ruin their chances of stepping back onto the career ladder at even a OK level (not that it is that easy to do so atm). The amount of time out will be compounded by the increase in fees she wants charged.

DorisIsWaiting Mon 03-Dec-12 13:22:21

we are raising the family on one income, that (lower) income does not stretch to a pre school place. However we are not on benefits so do not qualify for the 2 year old funding.

A pre-school place is about so much more than daycare, which is why more WAS being pumped in to the early years curriculum. It allegedly made a difference.

Ephiny Mon 03-Dec-12 13:24:28

Actually we probably could have a family one one income. We intentionally took on a mortgage that we could afford on one salary, in case one of us lost our job (we both worked in finance, and it was a pretty unstable time - and we didn't have much savings then having put it all into the deposit). It's having a family on two incomes that we would struggle to afford, due to the cost of full-time nursery.

So I guess we do have that choice. Not a realistic one for me though.

Unbelievable, why not just line up all the working families and shoot them?

TheSunIsShining Mon 03-Dec-12 13:27:55

But nursery is NOT about childcare is it?? It's about starting the teach/educate children as early as possible so that they can get the best education they can.
Which we will need as a country in the world we live in now. There will be/are very few low skilled jobs left.

How is that a luxury to plan for the future of the country?

<<Yes I know, politicians only take the very short term view up the next up coming elections>>

Aboutlastnight Mon 03-Dec-12 13:31:17

But the 15 hours can be taken off the cost of a ft nursery place if the nursery is linked to the local authority.

TigerFeet Mon 03-Dec-12 13:35:28

Nursery costs are such a struggle for all, middle income (what does that mean exactly anyway?) included.

We had to space our children out as we could only afford one nursery place at a time. We're (probably) middle income earners but even though I work three days a week now instead of full time, our childcare costs run to several hundred pounds a month. It's more than our mortgage at the moment although as of next month when dd2 qualifies for the funding the two will swap places.

I understand that money needs to be saved but we've already lost CTC and with petrol costs (unavoidable as we are rural) rising all the time we really can't afford another cut. It's hardly worth my while working as it is, I mainly keep at it so I can resurrect my career once the children are older.

Aboutlastnight Mon 03-Dec-12 13:43:07

Indeed. We have just been told we have to pay back some CTC mistakenly paid to us in 2005 at £100/month for the next year. Fortunately we have not lost CB.

HandbagCrab Mon 03-Dec-12 13:44:55

It feels like there's a policy somewhere that states the government want 90% of families to have an income of about 25k. If you're on benefits they'll bump it up to that and if you earn more you lose various benefits on a sliding scale to bring you back down. If you work in London so can earn substantially more, transport and housing costs will see to that extra income thanks.

Its enough to live on, not enough to save, not enough to feel properly financially secure, not enough to send kids to fee paying schools, not enough to emigrate etc. But enough to get by on if you keep your head down, your nose clean and you don't rock the boat. I hate it.

Climbingpenguin Mon 03-Dec-12 13:47:08

I can see that handbag DH was offered a 10k pay rise but we would have actually have seen less money coming in each month as we currently have no commuting costs. In the end he accepted a lower salary but with travel costs paid on top.

mum2twoloudbabies Mon 03-Dec-12 13:47:39

If things continue in the way they have been 'middle income earners' will be the deprived. As many have pointed out this was put in place for the benefit of the children not the parents. It's a fantastic scheme meaning that most children arrive in reception ready to learn and in some cases well ahead making early school days more meaningful and hopefully providing a better educated work force in the future.

Plus, has she given any thought to those who will be put out of work by the inevitable decline in take up of pre-school places? Possibly meaning existing facilities closing down, less corporation tax, less income tax into the coffers.

Finally, the biggest issue we have in this area is getting 'the deprived' to actually bring their children along to use the free places. Many here are enrolled but never attend cutting funding won't solve this.

I cannot see any positives in this at all. Bad news for the children, bad news for those working and relying on the funding to make it worth going to work.

Bicnod Mon 03-Dec-12 13:53:29

Haven't read the thread but my initial reaction is that it's yet another way of this bastard government screwing over mothers who want/need to work.

I couldn't afford to work if DS1 didn't get the 15 free hours.

Squeezed middle. Again.

LoonyRationalist Mon 03-Dec-12 14:00:04

If they remove the funding from "middle earners" virtually all the non nursery places in our local area would disappear as it is the funded hours that keep playgroups run as charities going. Children with funding would then find it hard to get a place in their local area - making them much more likely to not attend.

Free childcare also helps many children get ready to start school and ready to learn, they can already sit quietly and listen in a group environment, have learnt sharing with their peers etc etc. Remove the funding and you would seriously dent the effectiveness of the reception year as the first term would instead be spent teaching these skills.

mum2twoloudbabies Mon 03-Dec-12 14:05:13

I missed one bad news for my blood pressure (these threads, this govt) angry

FrequentFlyerRandomDent Mon 03-Dec-12 14:07:25

Oh great. What is their definition of middle class?

Will it be free for the nobles and the clergy?

Ok. Will read the article and come back...

snowtunesgirl Mon 03-Dec-12 14:15:30

sad

A large majority of the country are like my husband and I and will be completely buggered. We are not low-earning enough to qualify for any benefits but aren't high-earning enough to be able to afford everything. We also don't have any grandparents around to help us with childcare and it would be impossible for us to live off my DH's wages and we shouldn't have to.

What is clear though is that if this goes ahead, this is not just a cut that will affect DC but will affect women in general. How many families with more than one child will take a look at their finances and go: right then, we can't afford childcare so SAHM is the only option. How is this right? How is this going to help the economy if more and more women will be forced out of the workplace?

Disclaimer: yes there could be SAHD but it's still more common for it to be SAHM.

NewMumJuly11 Mon 03-Dec-12 14:16:55

I think that this is utterly outrageous. My DH and I will probably fall within the middle-income bracket but we both work to support our family. Before having a family we saved and scrimped to make sure we could give our children the best possible start in life. We then very carefully budgeted every last penny (and we hope that the givernment would consider this responsible parenting). We included within this budget CB and assisted funding for when our children hit 3. It now looks like all of this is being taken from us at a time when incomes are not matching inflation. It is IMO wholly unfair to change the rules half way through. When we decided to have children we were entitled to various things. At the very least the government should honour that and only change the rules for children concerived after they make the decision. Childcare is sooooooo very expensive - we currently pay circa £1000p/m. We had hoped to have another child and were carefully planning to only start TTC once we knew that by the time that child went to nursery our DS would be getting the assisted funding and so we could possibly afford it. What if they change the rules now?? sad

EdgarAllanPond Mon 03-Dec-12 14:18:44

on the one hand sending DD1 to nursery was brilliant for her age 3.

on the other she didn't need it, and i didn't need to send her either. it was a nice to have, not a need.

AfterEightMintyy Mon 03-Dec-12 14:39:33

Both my children adored their pre-school. My ds went for 5 terms (September baby) and we would have both gone a bit nuts if we had been in each other's company full-time over that period.

So, he got to make friends (some of whom he still plays with at school now, 4 years later), learned simple numeracy and some literacy, learned to sit down when asked and listen to the teacher, learned about leaving the house on time in the mornings, taking turns, sharing with other people, growing plants, mini beasts, took part in the nativity, went on trips to a farm and a natural history museum, learnt about tidying up and putting things away, how to tie laces, how to help his friends, and had a shed-load of fun.

He would have missed out on this if the funding hadn't been there because dh and I would not have been able to justify finding the money to send him.

Italiana Mon 03-Dec-12 15:23:51

More from Susan Gregory in Nursery World..it doesn't get any better
www.nurseryworld.co.uk/news/rss/1162552/Early-years-funding-focus-poorest-families-Ofsted-says/

I would like to reassure the Ofsted director that thousands of c/ms are 'up to the job' of delivering the EYFS and do so with outstanding results
Early Years policy in a mess???

TheMysteryCat Mon 03-Dec-12 15:39:53

My LA are already means testing the 15 hours for two year olds. It's only available to lone parents, parents of disabled children and those on income support... And here's the real stupid kicker... Up until recently it was only available to then if the child was not in nursery in the first place. So for anyone in those groups who were already placing their child so they could work part time, there was no support.

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Mon 03-Dec-12 15:49:12

sad I'm well educated, probably lower-middle income though. Certainly not able to pay for pre-school without the funding. It has done my daughter the absolute world of good. I so hope my second daughter gets the same opportunity.

Tanith Mon 03-Dec-12 15:59:32

I would prefer to see the Government prioritising the collection of taxes owed by the big foreign companies.
As EYE have said, those missing taxes are enough to adequately fund our Early Years provision.

However, that has nothing to do with OFSTED: nor has the Early Years Free Entitlement, incidentally.

When is this likely to come into effect? I've just applied for a PGCE for next year, but we can only afford it if DS1 gets his 15 hours (and as it is we'll have to use our savings to cover the costs). We'll be better off if I stay at home 'til their at school without the 15 hours.

TigerFeet Mon 03-Dec-12 16:22:27

On reflection I think we need to separate this from the issue of the high cost of childcare. When one has to pay for childcare anyway due to work/lack of non-family availability then the pre-school sessions are automatically there (obv). It would be hard for us to keep paying the full amount every month especially as dd2 is a September baby and will spend 2 years in preschool. We could do it however, as we've been paying this amount every month since she was about 9 months old. With the rising cost of everything else we're being left with very little disposable income.

If one parent is a SAHP and the family lives from month to month financially (I know a number of families in this position despite the working partner being on what many would consider a decent salary), there's every chance that there isn't enough disposable income to cover the cost. Fine if that's what you want or if you plan to HE anyway however it would be hard on children whose parents can't afford to send their child to preschool, they'd be at at a disadvantage socially when they finally start school.

So my child would get to go to preschool, but my friend who is a SAHM's child wouldn't, even though the family incomes may be similar.

It should be universal imo.

Ephiny Mon 03-Dec-12 16:22:38

It's just a suggestion from an Ofsted director at the moment, so impossible to say if or when it will happen. I wouldn't be surprised if it does happen eventually though, it seems to fit with the direction things are going.

TheCrackFox Mon 03-Dec-12 16:29:03

It would appear that the government would like everyone earning under £60k to actually have exactly the same monthly income. I never really associated Communism with the Consevatives but they do seem to utterly determined to keep the middle income bracket in their place.

colleysmill Mon 03-Dec-12 16:55:18

This makes me so sad tbh. By being universal and open to all children I (maybe naively) thought that the hours were supposed to provide an opportunity for all children - regardless of the circumstances into which they are born. I thought it was supposed to be a leveller for children.

I can't lie and say we didn't factor in child care costs when we decided to have children because the finances were pivotal for us. Ds turned out to be an early September birthday so will turn 5 within his first week of school. Children only marginally older than him will be expected to start following school routines when he still has a year to wait. I think this is when preschool will help ready him for school.

It will be interesting to see how all the changes will affect the "squeezed middle" overall - we are (very!) lower middle earners and many of our friends are opting only to have one child because of childcare costs and wanting to give the best opportunities to their children but feel this can only be achieved by having one.

mum2twoloudbabies Mon 03-Dec-12 17:01:24

Agree with you on that one TheCrackFox for some it is becoming not worth striving for progression at work or taking a pay rise. Not sure how you come to the figure of £60k but there is certainly an income bracket that is being battered left, right and centre.

TheCrackFox Mon 03-Dec-12 17:15:10

Yup, unless your career will bring you mega bucks there is no real Point in striving for a promotion. Why bother if you are going to be no better off at the end of the month?

TheMysteryCat Mon 03-Dec-12 17:30:16

This coupled with universal credit is a time bomb waiting to go off. Using the CiH projections I calculated a will be £300 a month worse off under universal credit if I work. If I don't work I'll be £100 worse off.

And that's without the 15 hours a week childcare place, which is only 11 hours if year round care.

There's no incentive to work unless I earn more than £40k per year, and that is totally unachievable. And no incentive for giving my Ds a nursery place either

Italiana Mon 03-Dec-12 17:34:03

Ephiny Truss and Gregory are saying the same things and preparing the ground for deregulation by discrediting c/ms
One talks about agencies while the other hubs and networks...all it means is that c/ms are going to be deregulated and the agency model will kick in
It may take a couple of years though as the law needs changing and in the meantime agency proposals will come in

I fear many c.ms will leave, if the choice is between an agency and independence I will choose the latter unless an agency gives me what I lack now...challenging training and recognition for what some c/ms do very well

I will be at the Daycare Trust conference tomorrow and listen to Truss possibly making her announcement and backing Gregory's ideas!

AppleOgies Mon 03-Dec-12 17:48:36

My DH and I have PhDs, one of us is an academic, one of us works in a hospital. We are middle income, we have one DS.

We are fed up of the hits coming to the middle income earners, so much so we are thinking of taking our skills elsewhere. I am tired of being in the squeezed middle. Childcare costs are more than our mortgage. Travel into London is more than our mortgage. We have no debt, which is one thing to be thankful for, but we are beginning to struggle. The only benefit we are entitled to is child benefit and that may not be for much longer.

I don't know of it'll be any better in a different country, but I'm definitely up for taking the risk! <cross>

TeamBacon Mon 03-Dec-12 17:52:27

FGS. If this had been the case when DS was tiny I might well have not returned to work.

We're middle income, but childcare costs are crippling.

minderjinx Mon 03-Dec-12 21:28:48

Don't get me wrong - I love my job. But if childcare costs are "crippling", why is my childcare income quite so modest? I would be "middle income" myself, surely, if all my families were paying me truly substantial parts of their middle incomes?

I'm not saying that it's true for you TeamBacon, but a lot of the people I hear complaining about "crippling" childcare costs are actually moaning about how much of their disposable income is spent on care for the children they chose to have, but they still have nice homes, cars, holidays, clothes, jewellery, meals out etc etc. It does get a bit galling to hear. Children are expensive, of course they are, but they are worth every penny.

snowtunesgirl Mon 03-Dec-12 21:54:56

I don't have any disposable income. Unless you count £70 a month after paying for childcare, bills and rent a lot of money.

We rent a small 1 bedroom flat because we can't afford to buy and are in the process of moving things around so we can stay here longer, a second hand van which my DH bought for his business as he worked out that train fares would be more expensive, no holidays, only clothes for DD, no jewellery unless you count my wedding ring and engagement ring, one meal out a month which is £10 each at a noodle bar.

Just as I wouldn't judge all childcare providers by one, please don't assume that the costs aren't crippling for some people. For us it really is. We are only doing this so that in the long term we can remain employable without taking long breaks from employment.

snowtunesgirl Mon 03-Dec-12 21:56:13

Oh and I DO believe that my CM earns her money from hard work, but it doesn't mean that I don't think that the cost is high. It's not the childcare providers fault as they of course have to make a living but it's just so little subsidised in this country compared to many other countries!

TeamBacon Mon 03-Dec-12 22:11:23

Of course its worth every penny..but. If people like me don't go back to work, and don't put their children in nursery, then what are people working in the childcare industry going to do?

I resent the implication that I'd rather but new jewellery than pay more for childcare.

Before we got funded hours childcare cost the equivalent as half my gross salary. By the time I'd paid tax, NI and car costs I had very little left over. What made it worth going back to work was knowing that I'd actually be able to take home some money after all the costs when funded hours kick in.

And for the record - I don't buy jewellery ever, we have one second hand car, one UK holiday a year and havent had a meal out since august last year.

TeamBacon Mon 03-Dec-12 22:13:52

Funded hours enable women to go back to work when they may not have otherwise done so. This is yet another way of keeping women at home.

TheMysteryCat Mon 03-Dec-12 22:28:05

It's not childcare that is expensive; it's that salaries are are far too low. I think it's shit that the well qualified and brilliant nursery staff where my Ds goes are paid only just over minimum wage. And no one else is making vast profits either.

minderjinx Mon 03-Dec-12 22:41:30

Snowtunesgirl - I didn't say I assumed nobody had high childcare costs relative to their income. Some people obviously do. FWIW I do agree that taxation should be used to fund some childcare, or preferably tax breaks given to those with childcare costs.

I haven't assumed anything about your circumstances either, Teambacon, and said as much. I started my second paragraph " I'm not saying that it's true for you TeamBacon...". I am fully aware that there is no way I could know how you would prefer to spend your money.

TeamBacon Mon 03-Dec-12 22:57:07

Or anybody else's...

Festivedidi Mon 03-Dec-12 23:13:04

I am "middle income" and would be one of the people affected by the loss of funded places but I appear to be in the minority here in saying that I would fully support the reduction of funding for all and targetting the provision to the most disadvantaged children.

My mum worked for many years in a pre school in one of the most disadvantaged areas of the country and some of the tales she told were truly awful. These children had such horrific home lives that the funded pre school place they were given (and a lot of these were full time places rather than just 15 hours) meant that they had some time every day somewhere warm (because their own home was unheated), they had a 'decent' meal (I wouldn't necessarily call school dinners fantastic nutrition but they're better than nothing), they had a consistent adult in their lives who cared about them and tried to help them develop the skills and knowledge that they would need in reception. Those truly disadvantaged kids REALLY REALLY need as much intervention as possible as early as possible imo, purely to give them the same chances as the dcs of the rest of us who are capable of meeting the needs of our dc.

I don't necessarily think that income is the best way to assess disadvantage though as my sister's family would count as a disadvantaged family in this sort of situation and her kids are perfectly well looked after and provided for. I don't know how else it would be feasible to assess disadvantage though so maybe income would have to be the base-line.

Btw We pay more than our mortgage for full time childcare for our one dd that needs it (dd1 is at secondary school so doesn't need childcare), and dp's wage is more or less taken up by the childcare and travel costs, so the funded 15 hours a week will make a rather large difference to our household income. We are still happy to lose that funded place in order for a child who is in much more desparate need than ours to have a longer time in funded pre school.

muddledmamma Mon 03-Dec-12 23:20:01

So perhaps free hours should only be accessible via social work/GP/HV referal then?

I disagree. This will stigmatise all those accessing free nursery hours.

These early years are so important for socialising children, getting them ready for school environment, letting them get comfortable with non-parent care-givers. It's a shockingly bad proposal. omg this government.

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Mon 03-Dec-12 23:22:06

Would it also mean pre-schools are only full of either very disadvantaged children or those of wealthy SAHM (and probably polarised so these aren't the same schools?). I like that our current pre-school has a good mix.

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Mon 03-Dec-12 23:22:19

Would only be I mean.

Strix Tue 04-Dec-12 07:05:21

I wonder how this will impact funding and therefore attendance of nursery years attached to state primary/infant schools. will they all change their admissions criteria.

I am sick and tired of being told to pay for things i am not entitled to and cannot otherwise afford.

Have we really come to a place where hard working people's children are less deserving of an equal education? If we have, it is time to think long and about which party will get your vote in the next election.

Italiana Tue 04-Dec-12 07:17:45

I believe that childcare should be universal and accessible to all children regardless of parental income, as said above if it was only for the 'disadvantaged' those children would enter school already labelled

I wonder why our politicians went to France, considered the Dutch model, thought of Denmark and Scandinavia and then....came out with the worst solution of them all by breaking up the childcare sector and introducing ah agency via the back door

I believe that parents have power and influence and it should be up to them now to revolt against this...you get a petition going against Ofsted/DfE proposals (oh yes they are working together on this)...you will be sure to have thousands of providers signing it for you

In the meantime I am off to London to listen to Truss following in Susan gregory's footsteps and hear a bit more c/ms bashing!!!

nextphase Tue 04-Dec-12 07:24:25

So, if we want to cut the costs of the 15hrs funding, why don't they just make it the 3 terms before the child starts school - ie all 3 year olds start in the Sept. Why do the older kids, who will be at an advantage when they get to school anyway, get 5 terms of funding? And the younger ones, who some people think struggle at school as a summer baby, only get 3 terms to adjust. Doesn't that increase the divide?

What am I missing?

SleighbellsRingInYourLife Tue 04-Dec-12 07:38:19

Stupid proposal, just utterly daft, for all the reasons given.

People who buy that the same money will be targeted at the poor are living in dreamland.

First remove the universal benefit, then scrap the means tested benefit from the "scroungers".

That's how it works.

How can anyone believe that this government, committed to removing benefits from people too sick to work or unable to find work in a recession, will hand over money so those same people can have free nursery places?

We3bunniesOfOrientAre Tue 04-Dec-12 07:49:00

I agree nextphase and I have a 3yr old who gets funding in jan for 5 terms. And it will alter my working plans as I am planning to work more when funding kicks in. It would however equalise the amount of education given to children, whilst still ensuring that all children have the chance to have some nursery provision. Those who are working/ rich can pay for it earlier (maybe with higher childcare voucher subsidy), and funded places can be available for those children who are considered to be at risk.

I guess that some children will fall through the cracks who are in need but it doesn't become apparent until they are in childcare, however it does seem odd to me not that I am complaining that unless I made contact/ sent ds to preschool he would not see a health/education professional from when he was 18 months until he was 5, so maybe a 2.5yr check at which need for early nursery could be assessed.

TeamBacon Tue 04-Dec-12 09:59:01

I agree with nextphase, despite having a autumn born child. It's about early years education, the fact that its also paid childcare is just a bonus really (though a very gratefully received one!)

I would much rather that all children got funding from the September before school starts, than lose it completely.

Strix Tue 04-Dec-12 12:03:35

Italiana, I dont think parents have any power over ofsted. Sadly!

Taking the social considerations out of the equation for a minute, I don't understand how this makes economic sense.

I am self-employed and have twins. The childcare costs are absolutely hammering me, and most of the time I barely break even through working (I pay childcare because DH has had to take over the lion's share of all household expenses). However, any money I do make is taxed. The nursery staff who are employed to look after my twins pay PAYE tax. The small amount of disposable income I do get thanks to working gets spent back in the economy. The five years I've invested in building up my business are not going to waste, nor the five years of largely tax payer-funded higher education. As a sole trader I cannot access the childcare voucher scheme, and currently working part time it is not economically viable for me to become a limited company. Obviously nor can I offset those childcare costs against tax in any way.

I have been praying I can get through the next 2 years before they take this funding away so I can get some assistance with childcare costs to enable me to work more. Not watch Jeremy Kyle, work. You hear that Gideon? WORK MORE

If me working becomes completely cost ineffective I shall stop, and enjoy my children. All that lovely tax and PAYE and VAT I'm indirectly generating will stop going into the economy.

HOw does that help anyone? confused

minderjinx Tue 04-Dec-12 12:50:54

I agree that it would be a good idea to have just one year of funded pre-school.

I also think that it is wrong thinking for local authorities or central government to imagine that pre-schools, nurseries or childminders can somehow make up in fifteen hours a week for a deprived family life or poor parenting.

Lemonsole Tue 04-Dec-12 16:35:02

The effect will be to stigmatise preschools. At the moment our community preschool reflects our very mixed community, to the benefit of all. Families will be less likely to take up their places if it makes them stand out as "needy".

Strix Tue 04-Dec-12 16:55:12

It will also tip more middle class parents over into the world if (illegal) cash in hand arrangements with (typically) Eastern Europeans.

Let me just briefy describe the situation of tow au pair frinds of my au pair:
Friend 1 - Shares her room with toddler whom she looks after for a whole lot more than 25 hours per week. Paid in cash. They tell her to buy her own food, and don't let her turn the heat on in the house during the day because it costs too much.

Friend 2 - Paid an au pair wage. Didn't pay her for 5 weeks because they couldn't afford it. When baby needs nappies, au pair is to spend her own money on them. No bus pass. No phone. She works all day Mon - Fri. She is paid £100 per week in cash. They have now paid the 5 weeks of arrears.

Every au pair I have comes to me and tells me horror stories of her au pair friends and tells me how glad she is she has our job. And here I thought that tiny little bedroom (which she does not share with anyone) was a real deal breaker. I gues treating them like real people counts for more.

But higher taxes and fewer benefits will drive many middle class families to go down the road described in the two examples above.

Shame...

EdgarAllanPond Tue 04-Dec-12 19:29:01

"
The effect will be to stigmatise preschools."

i very much doubt it. lots of people will just pay, now they have got used to having it.

paying for things does the precise opposite of stigmatising them, generally speaking.

Brycie Wed 05-Dec-12 01:19:10

"I believe that childcare should be universal and accessible to all children regardless of parental income"

And.. we're going to pay for that with ...candy floss?

WidowWadman Wed 05-Dec-12 07:18:24

Brycie - either preschool is a universal right for all children or not. Do you next suggest that middle income parents are having to pay for school, too?

Offred Wed 05-Dec-12 07:25:55
SleighbellsRingInYourLife Wed 05-Dec-12 07:44:39

Well either candy floss pays for it now, in which case quids in!

Or we can continue to pay for it as we have been.

Brycie Wed 05-Dec-12 07:54:55

A universal right? What, like free speech or the right to life? No, preschool, free or otherwise, is not a universal right.

If the benefit is worth the cost then it's worth doing. Those are the conditions - it's not a civil rights issue.

SleighbellsRingInYourLife Wed 05-Dec-12 08:19:24

Presumably she meant a universal entitlement, like healthcare and education.

Which is easy to imagine, since it is education.

MaryPoppinsBag Wed 05-Dec-12 08:20:05

How will this impact on Foundation Units in school?
Would I have to pay school for my son's 15 hours?

I agree with the posters who say it should be available to all.

I wonder if instead of getting rid of 15 hours for some families they could cut sessions down to 2 or 3 mornings/ afternoons for all children. So that everyone gets a chance to go.
I am fortunate to be able to be at home (CM) and always felt that the 5 morning sessions we had at pre-school and now have at school were a little bit of a bind and I would've liked 3 sessions so I could do more at home/ outside / visits with them.

I do also think it is very dodgy ground assuming that middle income households always provide the best background for children. The stories I hear from other CM about Drs, Dentists, Nurses etc beggars belief!

Income is not always a determinant of good parenting practice. But I bet the authorities don't care because they can afford to pay for it. But what about that child whose parents choose not to. Why should he or she be disadvantaged?

Brycie Wed 05-Dec-12 08:24:08

I repeat - if the benefit is worth the cost, it's worth doing. It's easy to imagine it is worth the cost and easy to imagine it isn't. But what we imagine doesn't matter. We can't afford to pay for things we imagine will be nice.

Brycie Wed 05-Dec-12 08:32:00

I'll also repeat a recommendation earlier about tax relief for child care. THAT would do a lot more for working couples than this.

Ephiny Wed 05-Dec-12 10:21:07

Yes I think lower taxes/tax relief would be fine as well. I think it's the perceived unfairness of the system that bothers a lot of people - you work hard, earn reasonably well, then give up a big chunk of it to pay for, among other things, other people to have children - leaving you unable to afford to have the family you yourself want.

I know life isn't fair etc, and we all benefit from the infrastructure and services our taxes pay for. I don't have a problem with that. But that doesn't mean there mightn't be a more fair and sensible way of doing things.

Brycie Wed 05-Dec-12 10:26:50

I think tax relief on childcare is the fairest way to go - it goes to "strivers" and it goes to people who need it for working purposes. The people it doesn't help are the people whose children should basically be out of their care for 15 hours a week in order to have a decent chance.

Ephiny Wed 05-Dec-12 10:30:30

That is true, though as someone mentioned above, you have to question whether 15 hours a week is going to make a real difference to those children's lives.

Actually, does anyone know if there's evidence to answer that question? Or maybe it's too soon to say?

Brycie Wed 05-Dec-12 10:45:18

I think it would make more of a difference if it was focussed on children who "need" it and it was generally accepted that the whole point of it was to bring on children who aren't being brought on by their parents. You could really make a big difference then. Otherwise it's just throwing them out of a moving car through the door.

minderjinx Wed 05-Dec-12 10:50:19

I understood that part of the rationale for funding two year old places for families on benefits was to allow parents to seek work or training and pull themselves out of poverty. If they succeed, and manage get off benefits, will they then lose their childcare because they have found work? Doesn't sound like much of an incentive to me.

Ephiny Wed 05-Dec-12 10:55:01

So it seems like maybe we're confusing two things here: state-funded early interventions for children who are disadvantaged at home, and a fair taxation/benefits system that doesn't seem to penalise responsible hard-working middle-earners. Different issues which probably need different solutions.

Offred Wed 05-Dec-12 11:26:12

If you read the link you would understand it. It was a comparison of targeted vs universal welfare. Targeted is found to increase inequality etc in it. Read the link, it is interesting. The people arguing that targeted welfare saves money are basing that on what exactly?

Brycie Wed 05-Dec-12 11:26:18

Yes Ephiny I think we are and I think that's where the problem lies.

Offred Wed 05-Dec-12 11:29:18

Long of the short is universal provision is more effective and more efficient and reduces inequalities. Gender inequalities are reduced because targeted welfare is generally based on the more common male breadwinner model.

Brycie Wed 05-Dec-12 11:30:19

Offred - there's no argument there against tax relief for child care. And as for saving money - if children need to be removed from their parents for 15 hours a week in order to learn how to hang up their coats and sit still, then that is money well spent. I suspect the children of most mumsnetters don't.

Offred Wed 05-Dec-12 11:31:03

Targeting means greater admin, error and fraud costs which eclipse any savings you might make. It is money for bureaucrats and lawyers and not for children. This targeting of services the govt is keen on is about cutting the service altogether not saving any money...

Offred Wed 05-Dec-12 11:33:47

Read the link. It is an assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency of universal welfare which is what free preschool places for 3 year olds is, which is what the thread was about. Tax relief on childcare already exists in the form of childcare vouchers and I doubt it would be better than 15 free hours of preschool - many women in single Earner male breadwinner families would not be able to use it for a start.

Brycie Wed 05-Dec-12 11:35:56

Targetting a childcare provision for children who need it to bring them on is not the same as targetting a financial benefit.

Brycie Wed 05-Dec-12 11:36:23

and targetting is not the same as targeting

sp fail

Offred Wed 05-Dec-12 11:39:17

It is exactly the same. It doesn't save money and it is based on a spurious assumption - that poor people's kids need "bringing on". The evidence for the long term benefit of preschool is exceptionally shaky anyway IMHO. 15 free hours is about getting women into work not benefitting the children. The research generally shows that nursery is only better than home if home is really awful. Really awful homes are not the same as poor homes.

Offred Wed 05-Dec-12 11:44:06

Also I seem to remember that evidence shows children who are behind are brought on by being in a class with children who are ahead too, what would be the point in having a class full of children that are behind, who would want to send their children in those circumstances?

Brycie Wed 05-Dec-12 11:44:26

I'll give up if you think there are children from failing families who do not need bringing on and that there's a prevalence of those children in families where there is income and educational disadvantage. Your argument is based on a premise I don't accept.

Teachers and schools are always arguing that lower income and social disadvantage are reasons for failure. I don't accept they're reasons for failure; I think they are potential reasons for failure.

But I don't accept there is an equal number of children from wealthy families who need social services-type support as from lower income families, therefore from my point of view there's little to be gained from any debate based on that premise.

Sonnet Wed 05-Dec-12 11:46:44

First of all I admit that I have not read past page 2 so this may have been said - BUT:
Good idea?? - words fail me.
my first child went to school in 2000 and my last in 2005 - I went back to work, admittedly to a good job, between 12 weeks and 6 months for all my pregnancies. i went back to work becasue I needed to - not beacuse I wanted to. I never had a penny of support/tax releif etc or what ever it is called except universal Child benefit as our household always just earned slightly over the limit. We really are the squeezed middle. I really really NEEDED that free 15 hours when it came around.

I know others in that situation now who depend of this to ease the cost of childcare. sad

Honestly, If I had my time again I would have taken a "carreer break", been a sAHM and let the government assit me in this dream

Offred Wed 05-Dec-12 11:50:18

Doesn't matter whether there are equal numbers or not (i do believe social services etc assume wealthy families are ok when they arent often though) to be fair the assumption that being poor means you can't raise your kids and that having a nursery place means you aren't doing your job properly would motivate people to avoid using them at all costs. There is good evidence that the stigma of targeting results in low uptake. I think you should read the link.

Offred Wed 05-Dec-12 11:51:54

There isn't much evidence to suggest much benefit to children in all but the worst cases of preschool education IMHO.

Offred Wed 05-Dec-12 11:54:59

And there isn't a right to free speech in the uk.

SmallIWantForXmasIsA6ft2Dwarf Wed 05-Dec-12 12:02:27

I think this is a disaster. It's not about earnings it's about children getting ready for school, social mixing and learning with children of their own age. I had already paid for childcare elsewhere but still took the preschool place as I wanted my child to experience that mix, if I had to pay for it then it wouldn't have happened.

In our preschool there were a mix of children from a very broad range of backgrounds including obviously deprived ones.

SmallIWantForXmasIsA6ft2Dwarf Wed 05-Dec-12 12:03:04

My child is no longer in pre school so this change won't affect me but I can see that for others it will be a bad move.

Offred Wed 05-Dec-12 12:07:44

That's true small although our primary doesn't have a preschool, that is the reason mine have all taken up their entitlement too.

Brycie Wed 05-Dec-12 12:07:47

Of course it matters. You're saying you shouldn't assume low income parents are bad parents. I don't. You elided my point into something rather different.
I say (though I didn't at the time, it was more implied than said) that socially and "educationally" disadvantaged children more often come from the lowest income families. The parents of such children don't seem to care about the stigma of having a child in nappies at four, who can barely speak, who can't drink from a cup or follow a simple instruction. If they can be bothered so little with their children (who would benefit the most from free pre-schooling) then the opportunity of fifteen hours without them might not be affected by a sense of stigma.

Offred Wed 05-Dec-12 12:12:13

No, what I am saying is the government shouldn't target a service it says is to "bring on" children that are behind at poor people because universal provision better targets the children who need it and costs less as written about in that report.

Anecdotally I have only met one person who had children in the situation you described, she had four of them and she was exceptionally well off with a husband earning serious £s and children in prep school rather than nursery. She was also a "community figure". Her children were getting the 15 hours at prep school.

Offred Wed 05-Dec-12 12:13:40

There's also a complicated relationship between poverty and social problems, it isn't as simple as people who are crap are often poor.

Offred Wed 05-Dec-12 12:16:06

IME and IMHO the whole world falls over to forgive and cover up even overt abuse or neglect in wealthy families whilst it often makes assumptions in planning services that poor = crap.

Brycie Wed 05-Dec-12 12:17:13

"it isn't as simple as people who are crap are often poor"

Have you ever worked in a social services department?

Offred Wed 05-Dec-12 12:18:26

What's that got to do with anything? Are you trying to say you do and that's why you think people who are poor are often crap and that's the end of the story?

Brycie Wed 05-Dec-12 12:22:27

Offred: no, I don't, but I think many people who do might disagree with you.

However I must say this: I am being unnecessarily sharp when you are obviously nice, well intentioned and concerned and not snarky at all. I just disagree with some of the things you say but there's no need for me to be a twat.

libelulle Wed 05-Dec-12 12:25:40

At what point will people be starting to say that middle income families need to pay for their primary school education too? That's the logical next step. Nursery school is an integral part of the development of preschoolers and it seems incredible to think that it is suddenly being a 'service' that parents need to pay for if they can (theoretically) afford it. It's a slippery slope, and this kind of argument is grist to the mill of the kind of free-marketeer who would get rid of all public services altogether.

libelulle Wed 05-Dec-12 12:26:15

sorry, being seen as a service

Offred Wed 05-Dec-12 12:27:59

I have provided some evidence for what I say Brycie, it is a little more than "well intentioned". Where is the evidence that targeting is efficient and cost effective? Targeting saves money by destroying the service, it is introduced so that a service can be removed as a transitional arrangement. While there is still a state structure costs are often increased elsewhere in the system like in social services as the rest of the system picks up the slack in a much less effective way.

Offred Wed 05-Dec-12 12:29:36

I wouldn't argue with the fact that social workers see poor people more often btw I just think the reasons for this are more complicated that poor people are more often crap.

Offred Wed 05-Dec-12 12:31:31

(Poor people are also more often treated like crap)

Offred Wed 05-Dec-12 12:36:48

As I see it if it were about bringing on abused and neglected children there wouldn't be a general govt scheme at all it would be a tool in the social worker's hands able to be awarded to children who "needed" it. What is proposed is simply a means tested benefit and nothing else.

EdgarAllanPond Wed 05-Dec-12 13:06:20

having read the article the purpose of this would be to focus funding on the children of the least well off.

good.

though i doubt the government would do it as it would be outrageously unpopular at grass roots - the politically active Mummies i know would be incensed! most with 2yos are counting the days until nursery.

libelulle Wed 05-Dec-12 13:33:42

Where do you stop then Edgar? We need universal public services, or they will become substandard ghettos for the poor and excluded who have no other options. That's the whole point of the welfare state, which is being systematically dismantled by the tories. They know exactly what they are doing, and it certainly isn't about helping the poor.

Italiana Wed 05-Dec-12 13:55:06

Strix Maybe not over Ofsted but you can influence the DfE who will be changing things in the near future and, as Ofsted, has now entered the political arena this is dangerous

I was at the Daycare Trust conference yesterday and I am stunned they still have no solution to what they call the childcare problem...while evidence stares them in the face!
I feel this is all to do with costs and nothing to do with what is in the best interests of our children
I will feedback about the conference later

"So it seems like maybe we're confusing two things here: state-funded early interventions for children who are disadvantaged at home, and a fair taxation/benefits system that doesn't seem to penalise responsible hard-working middle-earners. Different issues which probably need different solutions."

Completely agree Ephiny, but in the absence of the latter a lot of working parents are relying on something that was designed to solve the former. I would be in favour of making early years free for those in need only IF there was a proper system for making working to pay for childcare affordable. The current childcare voucher system is completely inadequate in my eyes, given the curent monthly max barely covers 4 days childcare in lots of areas of the country.

LadyInDisguise Wed 05-Dec-12 16:14:07

But if sending children to pre school not an advantage, why are some many other coiuntries doing so then (I am thinking Sweden, France, Belgium etc...) Why would all these countries believe that it's a help for all children to be in a system that will support them (equally) if this assumption that children benefit from it fraud??

Climbingpenguin Wed 05-Dec-12 16:57:00

OP that is a good point, all of a sudden Ofsted have become political. I hadn't realised why all her comments had been so alarming to me.

minderjinx Wed 05-Dec-12 19:14:31

This is a very thought provoking thread Italiana - but is it in the right place? This should be a concern to every parent of young children or parent-to-be, not just the relatively few who frequent the childminders and nannies area of the forum.

Italiana Wed 05-Dec-12 19:38:01

I agree and never said it was just for parents using c/ms...we maybe the first in line for changes but I feel every provider will be touched by the changes in future as will the parents and the topic is far from being discussed just in this forum.
The peole at the conference yesterday were not just c/ms but from every part of the sector, charities and childcare experts

LadyInDisguise is right...other countries believe in preschool education and get it right while we have regularly changes and reforms

Offred Thu 06-Dec-12 07:22:38

Preschool has a link to gender equality in a system based on paid employment.

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