Nursery contract, is this usual?

(15 Posts)
Victoria2002 Wed 13-May-15 21:18:53

I found a private nursery place for DS when he turns 3, and annoyingly, at the last minute they have decided they charge £40 pw for the funded hours. This is because they offer the 15 hours all year round, with no option to use only the funded hours. They also provide meals, included in this price. I understand this is against the rules but very common. They also charge £75 registration fee, and are closed 4 weeks a year plus bank holidays, all of which you pay for. Is this usuall? Is this legal?

OddBoots Wed 13-May-15 21:24:27

I don't imagine so but have you asked them if you could have the hours pro-rata so fewer hours per week over more weeks. If they say no then I think you're going to have to lump it as they can choose how they offer the hours as long as they don't charge for those specific hours which they aren't, jut the extras.

Is there another pre-school nearby at which he could use the hours instead?

Victoria2002 Wed 13-May-15 23:24:13

Yes there are other pre-schools, but this is nearest and the times suit me best. I haven't asked them anything about it yet, want to arm myself with lots of info. I also don't want to go into battle with them as I think some of their policies are against the rules (illegal even?!) so gotta choose my words carefully.

jendot2 Thu 14-May-15 08:09:36

Yes this is pretty standard for a private nursery. They are a business and would not be able to fill your sons space in school holidays and the money for meals/ snacks has to come from somewhere. They are probably already taking a hit as the funding they get from the government is probably less than they usually charge. There is nothing illegal about this... They are not charging a 'top up' they are charging for hours that your son isn't funded for and meals they are not paid for.
Holidays for a nursery is a bit unusual... But that's what contracts are for, nurseries state their terms and you decide if you will sign up with them.
If you want a totally free childcare space then you need to use a preschool which is only open term time only for 15 hours!

ZenNudist Thu 14-May-15 08:16:08

My nursery has approx 2 weeks off at Christmas. They charge for the holidays and knock term time funding off the fees.

Nothing you can do but shop around and see if anywhere else you like as much for less.

Nurseries tend to charge what they can get away with. Mine stuck up the fees for the second time in a year when they got awarded ofsted outstanding!

Nolim Thu 14-May-15 08:27:34

I am not sure i understand correctly your situation op but if you use 15 hours per week for more than 38 weeks then yes, i think they can charge for those extra hours since the entittlement is for 15 x 38 hours only. And nurseries as oposed to preschools are usually open all or almost all year round.

So yes, it looks standard ime.

Victoria2002 Fri 15-May-15 22:40:54

UPDATE: I called the local education authority today and they clarified that the nursery is obliged to allow parents to access ONLY the 15 funded hours with no extra charges if that is what the parent wants. The only other option is for the nursery to opt out of the scheme entirely.

RandomMess Fri 15-May-15 22:47:25

If you're not using the nursery during the holidays you may find that they have no obligation to keep a space open for him...

You do realise that the reason that nurseries & pre-schools try and find a way around the LEA rules is because they get less funding from the government than it costs them to provide the place?

It's swings & roundabouts, I'd be tempted to find a pre-school that offers you just the term time hours that you want to access for free.

CloserToFiftyThanTwenty Fri 15-May-15 22:51:01

The four weeks holiday is very unusual (but not the BHs)

Victoria2002 Sat 16-May-15 08:56:35

Yes randomMess I do understand the funding is low. That doesn't change the rules though. The nurseries need to lobby for better funding or opt out rather than just break the rules. I partly feel a bit cheated because I called the nursery 3 times to discuss a place and only after 40mins tour did they mention the charge. Over 2 years I'd be paying £4000 to access the "free" hours, and I'm not even sure I want 15hrs X 38 weeks, I think I want less than that.

AuditAngel Sat 16-May-15 09:08:47

Top up fees are not allowed, but are widely charged. Charging for meals is allowed.

RandomMess Sat 16-May-15 09:21:02

I can understand your irritation but if you go there I just think they won't keep his place over the holidays so better to find a term time only pre-school, no doubt they'll still have top-up fees of some sort!!! Quite often the session are a little bit longer so you are paying for an extra 15 mins or so per session.

Each LEA gives a different amount - it's insane!!! Friend in the business moved from Surrey to Wiltshire - the amount of funding in Wilts was £2.50 more per session despite all the costs associated with funded places being much lower there than Surrey.

Nurseries sign up for it because of the full time children so their parents can benefit from the minimal savings they get rather than aiming to provide EYFS only provision. You can see the logic, dc in full(ish) time nursery because their parents work then don't get the free provision - sucks doesn't it!

I was on a charitable pre-school committee and we couldn't even break even without charging a "top-up" sad any funding for investing in equipment came from applying for grants & bursaries. That was before the council wanted to put up the ground rent for land our port cabin sat on up to commercial values - we were in the grounds of a primary school FGS and no local LEA funded nurseries in the area.

Whole system is a joke. Rant over, sorry that the option of using your most convenient EYFS provider isn't going to work out for you.

Nolim Sat 16-May-15 09:22:25

I could be wrong but since the nursery is open 48 weeks per year they can alocate 38x15/48 hours per week. I dont think they have to offer you term time only.

Mopmay Sat 16-May-15 09:25:36

Sounds pretty standard - free hours are available term time only but not if the nursery won't accommodate it. Paying for holiday time is normal as they simply spread the costs over the year. Otherwise you would pay more for the open weeks

TouchOfNatural Sat 23-May-15 10:59:08

Many councils know that if private nurseries offered completely free hours they would close their doors, they cannot pay their staff and overheads with fresh air, they need fees coming in. But as they want to provide as many children with funding help as possible they sometimes allow private nurseries to access the funding, not offer it, so a parent pays fees and has all funding deducted - makes a big saving. If they didn't allow this the private nurseries would all opt out of offering any funding help as they cannot run otherwise.

My thoughts always are that if a parent doesn't like the way the private nursery operates the funding to be sustainable then they need to go for a state school that is completely govt funded and can actually afford to offer the 15 hours completely free.

Any private nursery that helps parents with funding help is deign their parents a favour, as they also have to wait a long time to be paid the actual funding... Cash flow is an issue. Fee paying children pay upfront monthly. And there's a lot of admin involved too with offering any kind of funding help.

So please look more generously on private nurseries that do access/off funding as they're doing their best to help you with childcare costs but at the same time need to be able to keep their doors open. If they close they're no good to anyone.

And yes there is huge lobbying going on re the hugely inadequate funding situation - for a while now. Watch the early years media. In some London areas funding is 40% or less of the fee needed to be sustainable... You do the Math smile

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