Help me understand the childcare system in Edinburgh!

(18 Posts)
JessiexinxEdinburgh Tue 19-Apr-16 10:29:10

Hello all you mamas and papas out there!

We're a French family moving to Edinburgh beginning of June, and we have two little boys aged 1 and a half and 3 and a half years old.
I've been spending a lot of time these days trying to understand & work out how we're going to deal with childcare. We are new to the system and a little bit lost!

Can anyone help make this clearer for me pleeease?

I'm a working mama, full time, 5 days a week. My partner will hopefully find a full time job also, or will need time to do job research so we're looking into childcare 5 days/week, average 7 hours/day.

From what I understand, people go for either nurseries or nannies, or a combination of both. From what I've found, a nannie is on average £8/hour (is that for one child?), and a nursery is on average £40/child/day. I calculated that for a nursery, per month, for our 2 boys, It would add up to close £1600. A nanny would add up to almost the same I guess, if the rate is more expensive for 2 children. And anyway we would like to put the boys with a group at least part time.
Either way, £1600/ month seems enormous !!!! shock

I have seen that the system is divided into private or council nurseries. What's the difference in terms of fees and quality? And registration? I know in France public nurseries can have really long waiting lists!

I've also read that some children are allowed 600 hours of early learning in nurseries after the age of 3. Does that depend on the family's income?

What are you all doing? Have I missed something?

Thank you so much for your help and your time!!


catdil Wed 20-Apr-16 00:14:56

Council nursery school tends to be attached to schools and is mainly term time only and only half days. If you are working full time your main options as you say are private nursery or nanny / childminder. Not sure there is. Huge difference in rates between them. You get council funding for the term after your child turns three so if October birthday for example it would be from the following January. It is no where near enough to cover full time nursery care - knocks off at most £200 a month so you would still be over paying in excess of £500 - £800 dependent on fees - I am not sure where you would get £40 a day as most nurseries on south side are more than £50. What about an au pair? A lot of people get round reducing childcare by flexible working ie consolidating hours to four days so if you both do it only 3 days needed.

Hope this helps.

catdil Wed 20-Apr-16 00:17:02

To add the private nursery needs to be a partnership nursery for you to get funding - it is not income related all qualify.

GrooveeCar Wed 20-Apr-16 07:44:22

Childminder's may be an option. You would take your children to a childminder's house and they would be looked after there.

I used a childminder to drop my Dd at school and then she would take Ds to school nursery for his half day session and collect him again. So your 3 year old could go to nursery at a school where you would just pay snack money. But you may still pay the childminder while they are in their session as they have limited numbers so probably couldn't give another child a place for the 3 hours 10 minutes that the nursery runs.

JessiexinxEdinburgh Wed 20-Apr-16 08:07:19

Hi Catdil, Hi Grooveecar,

Thanks a lot for your messages! Oooohh, so it really is that complicated!

I've found a nursery that looks pretty good from here (St Margret's Nursery , any one heard of it?) and that has agreements for council funding, so they've told me that my older son would be entitled to 3 hrs/day of free nursery. That's a good start although it remains an enormous sum.
I can't really see the benefits of a child minder if I'm going to have to pay her while my children are at the nursery (which seems only fair if she's dropping them off and picking them up).
Although I'm a bit worried about nap time! confused
I don't have experience of nurseries as you see, do children have a quiet environment and manage to sleep during the daytime? Currently both of them need at least like 3 hrs nap/day!

Finally, please reassure me: after the nursery years are over, you don't have to pay for council schools do you?? What are the average tuition fees for public schools?

Thanks a million for your help flowers Things are starting to straiten out a little bit!

Groovee Wed 20-Apr-16 09:46:06

I was a baby room supervisor prior to having my own Dd. Many of our babies brought their own prams and would sleep outside in good weather or in the room in a cot. It was amazing what they could sleep through. We always went by the child and their routine.

Older ones can still nap too. But each nursery works differently so best to speak to them.

I have no knowledge of the nursery you linked to. But I would recommend that visiting is the best way to see what you think.

3nationedinburgh Wed 20-Apr-16 15:54:17

Council primary school education is free but you will have to arrange for and pay for after school care ( from about 3pm Mon-Thurs and from 12 on Friday) there are also lots of training days for teachers as well as school holidays (12 weeks over the course of the year) and 2 or 3 long weekend Monday holidays. We had to use family support, summer camps, and annual leave from work split beaten both parents to cover these and it still cost a fortune. Ask your employer ( or your husband''s) if they offer childcare vouchers which are a tax efficient way of getting some of your salary paid in a form you can then use to pay for nursery and some after school clubs.

Starfish347 Thu 21-Apr-16 16:29:39

Private nurseries - check this link for the name of the nursery and then you will get the link to the official inspection report.

St Margarets Nursery - I looked at this 6 years ago when it was owned by the then St Margarets School and loved it. Sadly the whole school went bust just before my daughter was due to start so we had to go elsewhere, but it was a lovely nursery with great facilities. Obviously a lot can happen in 6 years and I think it has changed ownership twice so best to read the report and try to visit although I appreciate that isn't going to be straightforward for you. There may well be a waiting list for days too.

We ended up using Kidzcare at Norwood House and have been very, very happy there. They have a few nurseries in Edinburgh, a couple in the south side.

Also take into account if the nursery provides food/nappies/wipes etc as this may impact costs, and varies from place to place. Kidzcare provides food but nappies and wipes have to be supplied by us.

catdil Thu 21-Apr-16 21:36:12

one other ting to look into is childcare vouchers if your employers offer it. Both parents can have it and it means you can pay for a proportion of childcare tax free. It is due to be replaced and not all employers offer it
Most nurseries and after school care providers accept payment this way.

Private schools in Edinburgh are very popular - fees differ by age but for primary probably average about 9 - 10k for the big three (Watsons, heriots and Esms).

Good luck - I am sure you will find your way!

Bellebelle Thu 21-Apr-16 22:14:29


We've used a childminder for both our girls since they were babies (I went back to work when they were around 9 months old each time) and they're now 7 and 10 and still go to her after school and during the holidays. She charges £3.50 per hour per child and we pay her for 4 weeks holiday per year. They both went to school nursery from 3.5 and she dropped then off and collected them, she didn't charge us for the time they were in nursery although all childminders have different payment structures so that's not a given. We're able to pay her with childcare vouchers as referenced by other posters. She looks after other children of varying ages (a childminder can look after up to 5/6 children at a time with limits on age groups i.e. only 1 child under 12 months, max. 3 children under school age.)

We have been very lucky in that our childminder is a wonderful person who provides an excellent standard of care for our children and they adore her. We both work full time and I travel quite a bit for work so having such a flexible and reliable arrangement makes a huge difference to us. However childminders are in high demand and you normally need to go on their waiting list, most tend to have spaces open up in the summer when children move to high school/into primary school allowing for spaces to open up. You can request a list of registered childminders in your chosen areas from the council website and then it's up to you to approach them directly to see if they have space.

The drawback of using a childminder is that you are of course reliant on one person and if something happens to them you would be stuck. We're very lucky in that our childminder has only had 2 days off sick in all the time we've used her and both times she made arrangements for another childminder whom our girls know very well to look after them. You do also need to get on with the childminder and find someone who fits in with your way of raising your children - if you like your children to have lots if structure to their days you need to find someone who also likes to have routine etc.

I don't know which areas suit you best but you've mentioned St Margarets, nearby there's a nursery called Strawberry Hill Nursery which is very popular and I know a few parents who have used and loved it. The prices are steep for central Edinburgh nurseries though and people do tend to find that fees take up a huge portion of their income in the early years. It is worth seeing if your employer is able to offer something like compressed hours (I work 4 long days and have a Friday off) to keep down costs. With the price of childcare being so high in the UK lots of employers do offer flexible working arrangements to try and ease the burden. Some school nurseries are able to offer full time places with 'wrap around care' - it normally involves them attending the morning and afternoon session with childcare provided before and after the nursery sessions by a breakfast club/after school club who are onsite. It's not available everywhere and places are limited but it's worth considering for your older child to get costs down.

Good luck

JessiexinxEdinburgh Sat 23-Apr-16 22:33:32

Wow ladies, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR HELP! You are a wonderful. I've got it all down straight: child minders, official inspection reports, naps at the nursery, child care vouchers, school nurseries vs. private nurseries, free public school ( yay!)... Just need to find available places now!
Bellebelle, how was your child minder able to drop your daughters off at school if she was looking after other kids? That's another thing that I find confusing. Do child minders have helpers or do the kids that they take care of go to the same school?
I can see how asking my employer for compressed hours would be great, but I can't see myself doing that yet! I'm only just beginning on this new position. But that's clearly a great solution from various points of view.
Thanks again all!
Take care.

Bellebelle Sat 23-Apr-16 22:57:06


She would take the other children with her. Using a childminder is different to using a nursery in that the experience is more like being part of a family. So in a typical day my childminder will take and collect children to school/nursery at appropriate times and any other children she cares for would come along too. During the day she might take the younger children to a toddler group, the park, a museum etc or just stay home with them. It's pretty similar to what the children would experience if they were spending their day with their parent, the childminder isn't tied to being at their home the whole time. Childminders do have to follow similar guidelines to nurseries regards education and development for preschoolers so there is an onus on the childminder to provide some structure and support although as it is in nurseries at that stage it's mainly learning through play.

Childminders tend to be tied to one school in their area for drop off and pick up as schools start and finish at the same times.

Groovee Sun 24-Apr-16 15:16:27

Childminders are limited in their numbers. My childminder was allowed 3 under 5's and only one could be under 1, then she was allowed 5 children over the age of 5. So 8 in total, but realistically she never had more than 6 and her husband and grown up daughter were registered too.

My friend is only allowed 4 children due to the size of her flat.

Buckeyedjim Sun 24-Apr-16 15:31:26

I have only experience of one private nursery, and one childminder state nursery combo. I have found the experience offered by the state nursery to be far more structured and educational than the private nursery, as you'd expect as they have a nursery teacher there and it's only for a few hours. My ds has come on lots since starting there. The private nursery provides excelled care IMO and the childminder seems to be genuinely loved by my DC.

Buckeyedjim Sun 24-Apr-16 15:32:47

Sorry when I say structured I don't mean it's like being at school, they don't sit round tables being taught stuff! But they seem to do all the cool activities that teach something, and that I'm far too lazy to do at home.

Starfish347 Fri 29-Apr-16 12:12:11

Buckeyedjim I have found the experience offered by the state nursery to be far more structured and educational than the private nursery

This is not my experience at all. At my dcs nursery (private) they have a pre-school co-ordinator who ensures that whilst there is a lot of play, that the learning through play is actually quite structured. A lot of the work they do goes towards setting them up for primary school - the handover report they provided to my DC1s school was incredibly detailed.

HelenClark1 Mon 02-May-16 17:02:19

This is a helpful thread! Can anyone suggest the best way to find a childminder? We recently moved to Edinburgh and have nursery care part time for both our 6 month old and 3 year old but need 2 extra days of care from June when my husband goes back to work full time. Any advice appreciated!



Buckeyedjim Mon 02-May-16 17:17:00

That's good that we have both put our experiences about nurseries forward then! Though have you experienced both?

Helenclark the council provided me with a list of registered childminders in the area I live in. I think they had a version of it online, but not with the phone numbers etc. I then called a few and also looked at their care commission reports online.

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