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Getting children to school as a working parent

(54 Posts)
Lildot Mon 15-Jul-13 17:56:45

I am hoping someone has any ideas. We have been given a place at an out of catchment school with no before or after provision, the nursery that both daughters attend 11 months and 4.5 years) is attached to a differing out of catchment school and we were not offered an in catchment school.. The school offered also has no nursery and nurseries who would deliver cannot support our working hours (we commute to London) or else would not support my self-employment, insisting we place both in for full week whether or not working which is too costly. We cannot transfer our jobs as specialist area, we are not from the area we live in currently so no family and the only community we have in terms of other parents is at the nursery and no parents have children going anywhere near the school offered to be able to help. Our current nursery does not deliver to the school either due to distance. We have appealed with no luck as we do not fit the criteria for admittance. We have been in touch with councillors, sure start, family services, the education liaison team all of whom suggest we have been down every avenue possible and obviously cannot be lenient on absence. The school are not interested in sharing any expertise and child minders are either too expensive or cannot be flexible which I can understand. The education department is suggesting we change our circumstances. We cannot afford to live on one wage and having contacted the welfare department they have suggested that we cannot become unemployed and due to our specialism would be sending us to London to look for work and we have looked at moving nearer to my parents but the train fare alone is three grand more and on our current rent we would be swapping a two bed for a bedsit. Sure start tonight suggested we place a note on here in the hope that another set of working parents might have any suggestions as at present our only circumstance change is to split the family, myself and school daughter living in herts for schooling and my youngest staying with dad in Essex, I do not want to do this but we seem to be at an impasse with an impotent appeals scheme, a council with no ideas and another borough education dept who just cannot believe that we are not being assisted as a family as working parents. It seems the education department are only looking at the circumstance of the child starting school and not the fact that we have another child in nursery so are forgetting the sibling discount etc that we get.

One positive outcome so far....I have asked the local MP to raise question with the government who are asking parents to work and then really doing nothing to alter admission policy to give out of catchment consideration to not only mileage but those parents who work and have genuine need, not having family or support and assistance in getting an older siing to school whilst having a younger in nursery, or else other real need. I hope this starts a debate about working parents and assistance with schools attached to nursery schools, as sure start has just told me that more and more nursery schools are closing at 6....a London only problem perhaps but a real nightmare for a commute.

I have to admit that it is now that you realise just how important family networks can be for support....

Any ideas welcome from those finding themselves in the same position. I know people will suggest that we should have considered staying at home and one of us is self-employed to be flexibke to an extent, it is just that some days when we need to work will be difficult with little or no support. We are lucky we know as our nursery and the staff there are amazing and very much part of our family and community which has made work possible....

turkeyboots Mon 15-Jul-13 18:05:40

Ask the school for details of child minders? There are loads of before and after school childminders at my DC school. Only problem is many don't do holiday cover, so there is that to source as well.

I find school harder to work round than nursery, so you have my sympathies.

UnderwaterBasketWeaving Mon 15-Jul-13 18:09:23

We'll be relying on our (legendary) cm to do wrap around care & school run for the next 10 years!

We couldn't do it any other way.

LIZS Mon 15-Jul-13 18:11:32

If you are currently paying ft nursery fees for your eldest I'm not sure how a CM or even a nanny share might work out any dearer. If she is not yet 5 then you could wait a term before she has to start school, and maybe a space at the closer school would come up.

missmapp Mon 15-Jul-13 18:15:09

cm here too- it is the only way if you cant be around for the school run.

When ds1 first started school, we dropped him at the cm and then took ds2 to the nursery he had always attended.

However, for ds2's last year at nursery, we moved him to a closer nursery ( that really fed the school,, but not officially) and our fab cm did both drop off's and pick ups. She kept doing this as ds2 started school .

It also means they can go to after school club aswell as the cm can generally pick up from those .

WeAllHaveWings Mon 15-Jul-13 18:16:04

It is hard. My dh is self employed and he drops ds(9) at school and I pickup from after school.

We are struggling as dhs earning potential has dropped drastically due to his reduced hours/availability and he brings home a pitiful wage, but that's the only way we could make it work.

No holidays abroad or as a family for years now and living very frugally at the moment.

kernowal Mon 15-Jul-13 18:16:35

I can sympathise. My 11 year old is about to go to an out of catchment school. Until now we have relied completely on after school clubs which shut at 6pm. There's no secondary school equivalent and I'm reluctant to let DD make her own way home from school to an empty house. At the same time, our careers make it very difficult to work around a standard school day.

Have you broadened your search to see if anywhere like a hospital, local to the school, has a nursery & after school club? Sometimes they can provide longer hours than a commercial nursery.

Is there any scope to find a part-time nanny who could do the drop off and pick ups for you, leaving her free during the day to do something else, then look after one or both children in the evening? Sometimes people who work in pre-schools want to top up their wages or you may be able to find someone like a college student who is interested in childcare. That might also give you some scope for holiday cover, which is another problem you're about to encounter. Good luck with your search.

VegasIsBest Mon 15-Jul-13 18:17:08

How about an au pair?

morethanpotatoprints Mon 15-Jul-13 18:18:24

Hi OP, I have never used childcare but my friends who work rely on nannies and child minders. The alternative is to contact your child's school and ask about after school facilities and fit work around your children. I know it may seem tough, but the authority can't really do anything to help you in terms of childcare.

HeadFairy Mon 15-Jul-13 18:22:14

Have you tried Gumtree/Craigslist to find someone? I ask because my sister had really odd childcare needs due to her working pattern (super early starts, really unpredictable etc) and she found a lovely young woman who was studying nannying at college and was prepared to get to her house at 5am to sit with the kids and take them to school, and then she went to college, she then collected the kids and took them home and went home at 6pm.

You might feel this isn't appropriate given the ages of your children (my sister's girls were a bit older, both at primary school by then) but it's worth a shot.

Alanna1 Mon 15-Jul-13 18:26:17

Ask at the nursery to see if any of the staff could help you out?

PowderMum Mon 15-Jul-13 18:31:27

This is a really common problem, you will need to find child are, it can't be up to the government to provide this for you. From the details you have posted you mus be in my area and we have a good provision of child minders. When mine were of this age I used a nanny/nanny share as it was a cheaper alternative. Both my DP and I worked hours non compatible with school runs, we didn't complain or expect the government to help.

YoToast Mon 15-Jul-13 18:32:45

The 4.5 year old doesn't have to start school until the term after 5th birthday which I guess will be January or April?

Defer school place until later in the school year, keep 4.5 year old in nursery. Get on waiting lists for nearer or more convenient schools and hope one comes up. At worst, the problem will be deferred for a few months while you try to sort something out.

BettyandDon Mon 15-Jul-13 18:34:03

If I were in your unfortunate circumstances I would either :

- ask your and DP's employer for flexi-time - put in a formal request for either early / late starts or reduced hours

- start to look for a better paid job to be able to better afford the childcare (CM, Nanny, au pair) or a job that is closer to where you live

- keep yourself on waiting lists for nearer schools and hope that there is movement soon

There are a lot of variables working against your family, you are working, living and kids going to school/nursery just too far apart IMO

NonnoMum Mon 15-Jul-13 18:41:04

Childminder or au pair or advertise for a Mother's Help...

AnnieLobeseder Mon 15-Jul-13 18:42:30

I think your only options are to keep looking for a suitable childminder, a nanny share or a day-time only au pair. It's a shame you have been given an out-of-catchment school, and I agree that the school placement system is an utter joke. But beyond building more schools and having more sensible placement policies, it's not remotely the government's responsibility to organise your childcare for you.

Lildot Mon 15-Jul-13 18:42:38

Hello, I'm not paying full time, I have a brilliant nursery and pay for the days I need each month. They are really supportive as I do free workshops and sing for the ceremonies so we have grown together really hence it is cheap but others need me to pay full time for the same flexibility I currently have. So it is a nightmare really...the cost would be another third on top of what I earn which means I could just about afford it if I went full time...sorry, my lack of explanation to blame here....enjoy the days I have off with the girls too much to go full-time....

AnnieLobeseder Mon 15-Jul-13 18:43:41

Also, get your child on the waiting list for your nearest school.

intheshed Mon 15-Jul-13 18:46:05

Can't you keep your 11 month old in the current nursery and then arrange a before and after school childminder for your reception child?

LIZS Mon 15-Jul-13 18:46:06

enjoy the days I have off with the girls too much to go full-time something's got to give , sorry. Sounds like you've had it relatively easy for a few years but I'm afraid you'll now have to juggle childcare/school for a while like everyone else.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Mon 15-Jul-13 18:47:59

Well, you cannot have it all ways. It isn't up to the government, the school, the local authority or anyone else to change their policies to suit your personal requirements.

Other people make sacrifices, alter their working patterns, take a drop in income to ensure that their childcare and school slot together well. I'm not sure why you feel you are any different?

Lildot Mon 15-Jul-13 18:49:39

Some fabulous ideas....will keep looking....I have to say though I was never expecting help from the government, sorry if it came over as that as I expect to be responsible but it would be good to consider the out of catchment criteria as looking at some of these posts it would make life a considerable amount easier....

LIZS Mon 15-Jul-13 18:51:16

That's a red herring , many areas don't operate catchments and same issue arises. Transition times are always tricky.

Tigresswoods Mon 15-Jul-13 18:54:25

Childminders and/or one of you does early, one does late?

creamteas Mon 15-Jul-13 19:30:25

Nothing to add really except, welcome to the precarious world of working with school-age children. It is so much harder than pre-school care...

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