Activities fees separate to the 15 hours free?

(12 Posts)
DomesticSlobbess Tue 11-Mar-14 12:25:32

Just visited our first nursery for DS who is 3. It is a privately run Montessori nursery. We wanted DS to go for 5 days a week for 3 hours but their sessions are for 3 and a half hours, so we would pay towards that extra half an hour each day. They also charge for the activities they do such as French, computer and dancing. These activities involve some coming to the nursery specially. These activies are part of the day to day nursery, so they're a compulsory part of their fees. It works out that we will have to pay £38 a week. Which might not soun a lot but it is for us.

But even if we sent him 4 days a week, so less than 15 hours, we would still have to pay something because the activities are separate? Even though you have to pay them for your child to attend the nursery. Is this right?

I just rang our council's family information services and the lady said nurseries can charge what they like. Some nurseries don't charge extra for activities but others do. She said the one her daughter goes to doesn't so it's free because of the 15 hours. But if nurseries can charge what they like for the activities they do, then wouldn't all nurseries do this?

I'm really confused. DP said we should just pay because it's a good nursery.

insancerre Tue 11-Mar-14 12:54:06

I run a nursery and we have just started to charge for some activities
its because our budget has been cut by he'd office and we simply can't afford to get the people in unless we do charge
the people we get are not cheap and the are good at what they do
we don't like charging but we do like offering the children good experiences
we don't make a profit on the extras we just cover costs
some charge £50 an hour

Littlefish Tue 11-Mar-14 19:49:20

The 15 hours must be completely free or the nursery is breaking the terms of their agreement with the local authority. You must be able to opt out of the extra charges, but it might mean that your child is the only one not doing that activity. Speak to the early years funding team rather than the family information service. The person you spoke to is wrong.

DomesticSlobbess Wed 12-Mar-14 14:41:32

I just rang the setting to double-check. I asked, "If DS attended for less that 15 hours would there still be fees because of the activities?"

She said, "The way it works is that the funding only covers the first three hours of the session. And our sessions are three and half hours a week. So if someone does 2 sessions a week they're funded for 6 hours and they pay for the extra half an hour each day"

WTF? That can't be right?!

DomesticSlobbess Wed 12-Mar-14 15:47:10

Three and a half hours a DAY*

DomesticSlobbess Wed 12-Mar-14 16:56:27

Spoke to the LA who said that the nursery can decide which hours of the session are funded however they do take children on just for the funded hours so it could be that nursery only have places left for the full three and a half hours. So I've emailed then asking if there are any days available that DS can attend just within the funded hours we shall see...

givemeaclue Wed 12-Mar-14 17:02:59

At our nursery they did design it so that people only doing the 15 free hours would find it an unattractive option. All the children did more. If you don't like what they are offering, find another one that just does the 15 free hours. Remember that is term time only though

adsy Wed 12-Mar-14 17:24:59

The setting are not allowed to force you to take any extra hours.
If you want just 15 hours, they cannot make you pay for the extra half hour.
Tell thyem you'll be picking her up after 3 hours.
They also can't make you pay for any activities or for food. They can charge for food but have to give you the option of bringing your own.
Did you know childminders also offer the 15 hours? I do it as 2 completely free full days of 7.5 hours. Parents can get a lot more done than 5 x 3 hour sessions.

DomesticSlobbess Wed 12-Mar-14 17:44:45

givemeaclue - we live in a small village. The only nurseries are this one and the local school one. I was hoping he would get a place at the school nursery this Easter as he's had his name down since he was 18 months, but they're not taking anyone on now and will be full until September. So I'm still hoping he'll get a place there.

adsy - there are quite a few childminders in the area. I don't work during the weekdays so it was more for DS' benefit, mixing with other children and being independant and away from me and DP for a short period. But if he doesn't get a place in the school nursery in Sept then we will probably have to look at that option. I don't want it to be a shock when he goes to school so was ideally hoping for a nursery setting before then.

TheGreatHunt Thu 13-Mar-14 06:58:13

Mine does this. They have a small number of fully "free" places but none after that. TBH we can afford the extra top up so I don't mind, provided that the free ones are given to the more deserving. They do ask our occupations etc on the application form so who knows.

OddBoots Thu 13-Mar-14 07:10:58

The rate of pay given to settings for the funding is not enough to cover costs in many areas so settings are in a position where they have to decide if they allow parents to have some benefit from the funding as a reduction in what they'd normally pay or to opt out of the scheme all together.

What the government would do if it was realistic would be to increase the hourly rate by 50% but reduce the number of hours to 10 per week but that would be a politically difficult move.

Maybe you could give your local authority a call and explain what the nursery have said and ask for their help to find a setting with no additional costs.

AuntieStella Thu 13-Mar-14 07:28:15

It's sharp practice, as they are essentially charging you the half hour (I bet they've arranged the hours exactly to bring in that bit of money but the extra 30 minutes mean it's not a clear cut top up, just does the same).

You need to ask what happen to DC who do not do the paid activities.

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