Free nursery places in Glasgow - a myth?

(25 Posts)
LocalEditorGlasgow Thu 03-Jul-14 22:17:17

My daughter is 15 months old and goes to a private nursery. Naively I assumed that when she turned three, we would automatically have a reduction in our childcare costs, because the government says all 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to 600 hours of free nursery care per year.

I went to a meeting at our nursery tonight and what an eye opener that was! In summary: there are 32 3 and 4 year olds at our nursery, but Glasgow City Council has only allocated it 16 free places.

The Council says that there are enough free places for all children in the city. But most of them are at Council nurseries. As I understand it, there are only two extended services nurseries in the whole city, and getting your child into them is impossible.

So basically - I could take up the entitlement to free childcare. If I put my daughter into a nursery that is only open between about 9-4 and shuts during the summer holidays. Which wouldn't work because, like most people, I have a job. So I will have to give up my job if I want to access the free childcare to which the government says my daughter is entitled!

Have I got this completely wrong? Can anyone reassure me that the system is not this ridiculous? Currently it looks like the whole thing is deliberately designed to make sure as few people as possible take up their free places: I would love to be proved wrong!

carolinerosemary Fri 04-Jul-14 19:16:24

Sorry - no words of advice - that's the impression we got too. The council nurseries are impossible to get places in, at least the ones with hours that suit working parents. Even if you do get the free nursery care back from a private nursery it's a fraction of what you pay - say you pay £20 per session, you'll get about £9 back! It's a complete joke - little better than useless!

LocalEditorGlasgow Fri 04-Jul-14 22:13:05

Jeez. I feel some letters to councillors coming on!

MadameCumberbatchio Wed 09-Jul-14 20:22:45

Seems to be standard, most parents get around it with wrap around care which obviously costs them money but they are paying less overall thanks to the govt subsidy.

Rosiebettyboo Wed 09-Jul-14 20:28:19

My DS is 3.5 and we did not get the council subsidy for budget reasons. I would have had to move him to a nursery which provided 2.5 hours a day and find a childminder for the rest. I think it is a nonsense, really, for the govt to suggest every three year old gets free nursery, they don't.

ellie27 Wed 09-Jul-14 22:32:15

My 4.5 yr old has been in a private nursery since she was 1 yr old and still no funding, however we live in glasgow council area but have her in the nursery closest to home, which is actually a north lanarkshire nursery so that straight away puts us at the bottom of the list!

Not fair anyway, manager of our nursery says its all changing soon......not sure though?

judybloomers Thu 10-Jul-14 21:23:34

There are lots more than 2 extended provision council nurseries in the city. There are 3 council nurseries that offer 8-6 all year round within walking distance to me. I know not all nurseries are extended provision, but it's definitely the direction the council are moving in.

The system isn't perfect, but I do know lots of parents whose kids have places in the council facilities and most of the nurseries are excellent.

oneballyhoobird Sat 12-Jul-14 18:32:31

Hi!
There is a local campaign about this very issue, started by parents of one west end nursery. Details are here www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/glasgow-city-council-fully-reinstate-our-children-s-early-education-funding-at-clarence-house-nursery-glasgow-review-the-current-procurement-process-to-stop-unnecessary-interruption-of-their-care-education?recruiter=112902065&utm_campaign=mailto_link&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

There is also a Facebook page and a Twitter account #wheresmyfunding This issue affects thousands of glasgow kids!

oneballyhoobird Sat 12-Jul-14 18:34:23

https://www.facebook.com/FairFundingForOurKids

Sorry, this is the Facebook page. It's a very active campaign, please join us!

LocalEditorGlasgow Sat 12-Jul-14 21:30:50

Thanks oneballyhoobird, have liked the page and will follow with interest. Judybloomers, how do you find out which ones are extended hours nurseries? I looked on the GCC website and can't find anything that identifies them?

Thanks

C

judybloomers Sat 12-Jul-14 22:25:09

The hours are listed in their handbooks, which are all online. That's how I've compared them, but the Education Dept would give you a list.

It should be easier to get info, but there is a new online thing which is supposed to be up to date, which is due to launch next month. That should help.

I'm not a great supporter of the Council buying loads of places from private nurseries, as it costs the Council Tax payer so much more and it's just subsidising private companies. I'd rather grow the number of workable public sector and not for profit places.

sleepyhead Sat 12-Jul-14 22:41:18

This is not new. The situation was the same when ds1 was 3. 4 years later and we're being told that ds2's nursery has had its number of partnership places cut.

Some parts of the city may indeed have an excess of 8-6 places in Council nurseries but when we were looking for ds1 there was no way we'd get to the top of any of the waiting lists in our area before he started school.

sleepyhead Sat 12-Jul-14 22:47:27

Council nurseries are much, much cheaper for parents. I'm surprised that there are lots of 8-6 places going begging tbh. Most people I know with a child in private nursery would give their eye teeth for one.

Maybe the council should be letting people know about the surplus hmm

oneballyhoobird Sun 13-Jul-14 20:32:46

The council themselves cannot provide all the places required, as they have stated in recent correspondence to me, so to say that working parents should just use a council nursery is an ill informed response, whilst being a great idea in theory. Parents working til 5ish and in term time cannot use nurseries that close at 3pm and only open term time. This is where the majority of council nursery care is in Glasgow.

judybloomers Mon 14-Jul-14 14:09:52

I don't think anyone is saying there's a surplus of 8-6 places. The three near me are all oversubscribed.

I think it makes more sense though to invest council money in increasing the number of 8-6 places in Council nurseries and not for profits like the Jeely Piece, than in private nurseries that cost parents a fortune, even after the 15 hours is knocked off.

sleepyhead Mon 14-Jul-14 14:17:24

The council are not (excuse me if I'm mistaken in this) suggesting that they'll invest any money in extra places though.

The deal (as it has been for years) is, use an existing place or lose your access to the early years funding. If your work or family circumstances mean that you can't access a council funded place then tough titties and quids in for the council...

I eye roll every time I hear any government figure go on about the free hours being help for working parents. Glasgow City Council are of the mind that these free hours are not childcare, they are for early years education and therefore as long as they provide enough early education places it's not their problem if parent's choose not to access it (through working).

As the rules on funding currently stand, Glasgow City Council are entitled to take this view. The free hours are for early years education. That those parents who manage to get a funded place also benefit from a reduction in their childcare bill is a happy coincidence. Do remind SNP/Labour/Conservative representatives of this if you come across one spouting on about the help provided to working families.

judybloomers Mon 14-Jul-14 19:17:22

The Council have invested in a lot more places and in making more of the nurseries 8-6. I think around 10 more extended provision in the past two years, with another 10 planned.

There is a tension between the whole childcare or early years education thing and historically I think you're right, but that seems to be changing. There's more of an understanding now that, if you want people to work, you need to provide, directly or indirectly, affordable childcare.

oneballyhoobird Mon 14-Jul-14 20:17:28

I think that's a very important point Judy but in other counties in scotland, the money follows the child. This would be the truly fair system in Glasgow (I understand that no political party is actually invested in true fairness).

I'm amazed that more parents don't make a fuss about their child not receiving their funding and just take the reticent stance!

judybloomers Tue 15-Jul-14 12:59:24

I think we should just politely agree to disagree. I don't see any other Local Authority doing as much on childcare but can see I wont convince you one/sleepy.

asbobob123 Wed 30-Jul-14 16:24:29

I don't think the council is subsidising private companies as judybloomers states. It is supposed to be our entitlement to funded early years places for the benefit of our children. Working parents should not be penalised because they cannot now claim their entitlement at their private nursery, which they use to enable them to work and provide a better life for their family. Private nurseries are needed to allow us to work, and many provide an excellent service at reasonable prices. I for one do not think being charged £3.50 an hour for someone to look after, care for and feed, and educate my child is inflated!

LocalEditorGlasgow Wed 30-Jul-14 20:52:28

I've just written to the Director of Education at Glasgow City Council to ask about this. Will report back!

oneballyhoobird Fri 01-Aug-14 22:18:01

Good luck localeditor. Their response to me was abysmal.

Snappyteabread Sat 02-Aug-14 09:20:03

I've already contacted many people about this, MSP, director of Education, Councillors. Got the same answer back from all of them which is outlining their Procurement process. Doesn't actually address the concerns we have.

There is a meeting for parents and supporters on Monday 04 Th august (check out the Fair funding for our kids facebook page for more details )

Chairthing Fri 07-Nov-14 15:14:36

First time on this forum and this is something I definitely know something about!

The problem with funded places is that the council is only required to provide the minimum hours. Children are entitled to 600 hours of free access to early years education once they turn three (and vulnerable 2 years old also qualify now as well). Glasgow actually goes beyond what is required of them because they provide a funded place from the start of the term when the child turns 3, which for some parents gives up to 4 months free at the age of 2. What they can't do, however, is accommodate every working parent who needs extended hours. There are many, many extended hours nurseries in Glasgow. As a general rule, if an establishment is an early years centre or a day nursery, it will have 8-6 and 52 week opening. But the spaces for these additional hours are limited (due to staff shift patterns and ratios). Most nurseries, however, we be favourable to working parents when it comes to allocating these hours.

The problems come when there aren't enough spaces in one place to accommodate all the parents who want their children to be there. We prioritise pre-schoolers, and they're guaranteed a place at a local primary (but only the minimum funded hours). Many parents are frustrated that their 3 year old can't walk into a place, but sadly some nurseries are just over-subscribed. It would be solved by having the funding follow the child, but that would mean that the council couldn't control the quality of the education a child is receiving. We're talking public money, and so the council has a duty to make sure that it's only spent in places where they're getting value for money.

sleepyhead Fri 07-Nov-14 15:29:39

As I said earlier in the year, I have no gripe with the fact that the paid for hours are for early years education and therefore if you need wrap around childcare to allow you to work you may not be able to access this funding if you're not lucky enough to get a space at an 8-6 establishment.

What I massively object to is the government jawing on about support for working parents and free childcare when the funding is for education not childcare.

Obviously I'd prefer for the money to follow the child because our childcare bill cripples us, but I accept the reasons for the council not wanting this, and that as the law stands they have no obligation to help pay for childcare for my child while I work.

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