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Private nursery asking for parents volunteering

(49 Posts)
clande Fri 08-Mar-19 09:22:58

My DS goes to a nursery. It is a private company and has declared reasonably good profits last year (and they charge £1200 for a full time place). The owner is also the manager.

I feel a little bit annoyed with them sending letters asking for help. So far they asked for:
- Parent helpers to come and help with reading and literacy;
- Parent get-together on one of spring weekends to clean the garden and repaint the fence;
- Donate unwanted books and toys;
- Come and help on the trips, citing lack of staff (and if the helper numbers are not sufficient, the trip does not go ahead).

AIBU to think that while all the above is understandable in a state school (my oldest goes to one and I absolutely help out when I can), it is a bit cheeky for a private business to ask for the same? I am fully prepared to hear I am BU, don't know why it grates on me so much.

NataliaOsipova Fri 08-Mar-19 09:25:45

They do the same at private schools (for £15k a place!). I know what you mean. At the end of the day, you have to judge whether you think it’s for the benefit of the children and whether you want to help because of that. But grating is a good description!

NWQM Fri 08-Mar-19 09:28:34

I volunteer at my children's school but to be honest it grates a little too.

Trips I think are slightly different as they will need more eyes and hands so I have more sympathy but asking for old toys etc when you pay a fee is cheeky I think.

Nodancingshoes Fri 08-Mar-19 09:29:45

I doubt it's compulsory. I agree with you for the reading and painting the fence. This is not the parents place to do this. The trip I think is reasonable. Ratios are 1:8 in the building but that wouldn't be very safe on a trip so extra people would be needed. I often donated toys and books to my boys nursery. Contrary to popular belief, nursery do not make a fortune - outgoings are very high and of course the owner needs to make a profit or why do it?

potatochips84 Fri 08-Mar-19 09:30:55

I can understand old books and toys (from an environmental point of view) but also not sure about the parent volunteers etc apart for trips where it makes sense

I also find a bit irritating is that lots of students struggle to find voluntary positions in schools or nurseries to gain experience but some nurseries are requesting parents come in

The painting seems a bit cheeky

IceRebel Fri 08-Mar-19 09:31:53

That is bonkers, but as someone who used to work in a private nursery i'm not too surprised by some of it.

Parent get-together on one of spring weekends to clean the garden and repaint the fence
Not at all surprised, why would they bother spending money when they can get a job done for free. sad

Donate unwanted books and toys
Again, like above. Free toys and books are better than paying for them. As it means they keep more of the money they make, and they can possibly open other nurseries in the future.

Come and help on the trips, citing lack of staff
This surprises me, as most children are in a nursery due to parents working, so for many parents this wouldn't actually be possible. confused

Palegreenstars Fri 08-Mar-19 09:32:19

£1200 is £50 cheaper than the my daughters council run nursery. And trips too!

They probably think parents like being involved and helping so there’s no problem asking and people can always say no. Donating Unwanted toys is great for the environment.

thedisorganisedmum Fri 08-Mar-19 09:32:31

Ultimately, it's a business not a charity. Nobody would bother running a nursery if they didn't make some money out of it.

All these little things added up probably help keeping cost down - the alternative would be to employ more staff and buy more resources so to put their prices up.

It's in the parents best interest to help if they possibly can. I don't think the nurseries have to follow any price structure, I might be wrong but I think they can charge what they want? We have a few around here who have put their prices up massively after outstanding ofsted reviews - and the waiting list is even longer than before.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Fri 08-Mar-19 09:32:32

I think helping with reading is just something that underlines how important reading is - DCs love seeing their parents come in to nursery to 'help'. We used to donate old books too.

Painting and trips - nah, not so much, that's the job I'm paying them for!

Purplestorm83 Fri 08-Mar-19 09:33:05

What are you going to do with the old toys otherwise? Surely if donating them to the nursery saves them from the bin or being stored in the loft indefinitely then it’s a better option? Obviously if you can make some money selling them, then do that instead! The helping out with reading might be to show examples of parent engagement for Ofsted. For trips it’s fair enough, where would they get enough childcare staff to work on one random day?

WhiffofSnell Fri 08-Mar-19 09:33:46

Do you think they're trying to "engage" parents and "work in partnership" with parents to tick an Ofsted box?

Some parents who aren't confident with helping with reading might enjoy some outdoor work.

Nothing wrong with suggesting parents might want to donate stuff.

Sunshinewithshowers123 Fri 08-Mar-19 09:34:07

I guess it depends how it's put to you and how it's interpreted. At our nursery I took it to mean it's an opportunity to take part in an activity with your child (like bulb planting or other themed days).

user1471426142 Fri 08-Mar-19 09:36:06

I think involving the parents is probably a nice thing from time to time but there has to be a balance. Mine does family events, bbqs etc and gets parents to come in and talk about cultural events but doesn’t really ask for help. It also won’t accept toy donations.

For trips I’m in two minds. Mine seems to manage a higher ratio with staff but I can see how it would be tricky if trips were frequent. When mine take out the 2 year olds they like to have 1:2 ratio which is more than if they were in the nursery setting. I’d be happy to volunteer if it was the only way to run the occasional trip.

BirdieInTheHand Fri 08-Mar-19 09:37:43

The reality is that they're not going to spend out of their profits - and realistically why would they it is after all a business. So if things like a nice nursery garden are important then you either volunteer or you accept the fees will be increased accordingly.

Reading is a bit different because I think it encourages good habits both with children and adults and although my DC are older now they loved the occassions when I can in and read.

drspouse Fri 08-Mar-19 09:40:58

Our DCs went to a private nursery and we had requests for specialist help around festivals (everyone was really happy to help, it's very multicultural anyway), and donations of used items (ditto).

One of the parents who is from a culture where this is common suggested a working party - but the rest of the parents are NOT from cultures where this is common and I gather it was cancelled.

clande Fri 08-Mar-19 09:43:48

I do get the environmental thing. I asked a local church charity (running free playgroups) whether they'll accept toys and they said no due to health and safety concerns. If the nursery can accept them, it is a good thing of course - I was just wondering if there are other people more in need for this.
I guess it just makes me feel like a bad parent. I already feel bad for putting the little one in daycare full-time, and now I additionally feel like I am not making the extra effort officially requested for her wellbeing. The painting email stated - "help us to make our playground a safe and enjoyable place for our children". First thought - "ahh of course, safe and enjoyable is exactly what my child needs". Second thought, after a look at my bank balance - "wait, why isn't it ALREADY a safe and enjoyable place?"

IceRebel Fri 08-Mar-19 09:46:47

The painting email stated - "help us to make our playground a safe and enjoyable place for our children".

The cynic in me reads this as

"To help make our playground a more saleable point, to help promote our business and get more children through the doors"

I can almost guarantee they won't tell prospective parents that current parents did it for free, it will just be and here's our amazing outdoor space with XYZ.

HexagonalBattenburg Fri 08-Mar-19 09:47:31

There are a lot of parents who genuinely enjoy doing things like going on the trips as helpers though - in my kids' school they have to pull names out of a hat as they get a surplus of volunteers (I don't particularly enjoy doing school trips - they're hard work - but always offer to go if they're needing people... and always blooming get picked as they know I'm a sensible one with my head screwed on who can wrangle some of the livewires).

Reading - again - lots of parents and grandparents do genuinely enjoy having the chance to do things like that - and the kids love seeing their adults come into the setting as well. Shouldn't really be used to keep things at an "essential" level but as "flipping heck it's nice to have the extra help around" option... again I can understand that.

Think they're taking the piss a bit with the fence painting - unless it's being done in a well intentioned way to try to involve some parents who are less confident in terms of things like literacy... I used to teach and we had a parent who loved coming in and being involved helping the school but, putting it politely, he was not the most literate chap and a confident reader - so he would do all kinds of practical stuff with the kids, he'd do all the teachers' laminating and cutting out... things like that.

And yes, there's more than likely an element of proving parental engagement for things like Ofsted going on.

I'd treat it all as an invitation - not a summons and just carry on as you want to do - it's nice to have the option to be involved if you're the sort of person who likes to do that - also nice to have the option to drop and disappear if that's the way you're inclined too (I veer between the two - I'm around my kids' school a lot - they know if they need an extra body for something they can yell and I'll chip in... but flipping heck the days I can drop the kids and disappear off to spend the day with a coffee and doing my own thing are equally blissful!)

GregoryPeckingDuck Fri 08-Mar-19 09:47:51

Well presumably they would be charging more if they didn’t have the help.

GregoryPeckingDuck Fri 08-Mar-19 09:48:12

It is also helpful in building a sense of community which is often lacking at nurseries.

Mummyoflittledragon Fri 08-Mar-19 09:58:10

Very odd. Surprised they’ll accept second hand toys. Dds nursery wouldn’t.

ASundayWellSpent Fri 08-Mar-19 09:59:12

I dont see anything wrong personally. A closer relationship between home life and school life is always beneficial for the children, especially if they are little, at nursery age. Of course it wouldn't be ok for them to insist that everyone has to volunteer, but I would be more concerned if they said parents were NOT allowed to come and collaborate!

In as far as painting fences etc, I would say that is more about building a community of parents and teachers. My DDs don't go to private nursery but we did the same and it was great fun. About 30 parents and teachers, two hours one Saturday morning, everyone brought a snack to be shared, it was a really lovely and productive time. I came away feeling a lot friendlier with the staff, and met other parents properly that I had only really had chance to wave at during pick up time.

Again with the books, its the difference between "donate them" because they don't want you to throw them away, or them go unused, vs every child must bring three books from home to donate because we aren't including it in our budget this term.

Just my feelings

JellyBaby666 Fri 08-Mar-19 10:03:33

^ This. I worked in a nursery and many parents never met any others, there was no sense of community or involvement, largely because obviously childcare is for when you need to work! The occasional event or weekend thing meant people met, and it was so nice to see parents meeting and chatting. Each to their own, if you can help out, why not?

Aaaahfuck Fri 08-Mar-19 10:05:47

If they're making a profit it's a bit cheeky. I have no idea how private schools and day nurseries work but would feel less annoyed if it was a cic/non profit / charity if not state run. So putting all of the money into childcare and education as savings on staff mean more money goes to other things. But basically you're helping out to support their profit.

mindutopia Fri 08-Mar-19 10:06:09

I think that's quite normal. I went to private schools my whole life and parents always did these sorts of things. My dc went to a private nursery and a state school and I'd say it's very similar. It's about being involved. It's not mandatory though, so just don't volunteer if you don't want to or have the time. To be fair, nurseries make very little in terms of profits now given the changes in funding.

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