Who to contact for advice on 'voluntary' pre-school contributions?

(12 Posts)
MamOfTwo Sat 10-May-14 20:29:52

My 3 yo attends five sessions of pre-school - funded 15 hours. However, they also want a top-up per session - they say it is voluntary but are implying it isn't really voluntary and must be paid. I am happy to pay what we can towards a top-up but just can't afford the amount they are requesting. Is there somebody I can contact to query whether it is legal to enforce this payment? The council? Lea? Any advice appreciated.

Rumplestiltskinismyname Sat 10-May-14 20:35:13

I would presume you don't have to pay it- it is purely optional.
If in doubt phone your local authority, and they should be able to confirm it for you.

Talk to the LEA, they should have a department that deals with funding for preschools and should be able to explain. FWIW, I believe the 15 hours should be entirely free at the point of access, therefore no top ups allowed. I help run a preschool, and we charge extra for snacks. However, this is clearly labelled as voluntary and we don't chase or even mention it to parents that don't pay it.

Littlefish Sun 11-May-14 19:29:58

Phone your local authority and ask to speak to the department that deals with 3 and 4 year old nursery education funding (NEF).

Nurseries are not allowed to charge a top up. Woodburner is right that the 15 hours must be entirely free. Also like Woodburner, we ask for a voluntary contribution of £1.00 per week towards snacks, or what ever parents can afford, but other than putting it in the weekly newsletter, never remind parents.

jasminelavender Mon 12-May-14 22:08:10

Just dont pay it. You dont have to and they know this....

PookBob Mon 12-May-14 22:12:03

My son's pre-school asks for 50p per week to contribute to arts, crafts and baking materials which I am happy to give. His previous pre-school asked for £1 per week, again not a problem.

How much are you asked to contribute? What do they say it is for?

MamOfTwo Mon 19-May-14 22:49:45

Thanks for these replies. I phoned the LEA who confirmed it should indeed be voluntary. Pre-school want £2 per 3 hour session...

kirako Wed 21-May-14 20:26:55

My local council-run preschools do this too. It varies in amount but each preschool's website or newsletters mention it, none make it sound genuinely voluntary and some have very specific instructions about when and how it must be paid. It's generally £2-3 per week, but it's the principle!

JennyBlueWren Sun 15-Jun-14 09:02:29

Might be different as I teach in Scotland but our nursery charges £2 a week for snack (and also goes towards baking etc) and it isn't voluntary (but we don't chase families we know have problems). This amount is set by our council and does seem odd considering it is supposed to be free!

eversomuch Thu 19-Jun-14 19:46:33

Blimey, the preschool we visited today asks for £6 per session! Ok, this is London, but still. And that's on top of bringing in snacks & volunteering time. Made me wonder how "voluntary" it really is.

nurserychain Fri 20-Jun-14 22:57:25

The reason some nurseries do this is because the 15free hours only cover ratio and access to EYFS. The amount the council pays nurseries does not cover materials or food amongst other things. Most nurseries limit the number of places they offer for funding only because they actually lose money on those places. It's a common misconception that nurseries try to introduce top ups because they are greedy but it's actually because they will close down if they don't because they couldn't afford to run at the price the council sets.

Karoleann Sat 21-Jun-14 07:56:24

nurserychain - our pre-school manages to offer the 15 hours free and all our places are funded for 3 year olds. The staff are fairly well paid too. We do quite a bit of fundraising and ask parents to help with cooking etc.

I'm the treasurer for our pre-school too.

I would send an email and let them know that you're happy to pay XXX amount, but you're not able to pay any more.

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