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Need advice on nurseries and views on BusyBees?

(18 Posts)
ZadokTheBeast Mon 24-Jun-13 20:55:34

Hi all. DD has never been in organised childcare before. She's 16m and I am recently back in the UK and planning to go to work soonish. Today we visited a BusyBees nursery near us.
It seems nice but I am possibly a little put off by the fact that it's such a big company, though it didn't have a 'corporate' feel, maybe a childminder with a smaller number would be better? Anyway I just wanted to ask if anyone has any experience of BusyBees that they could share?
The other thing is that they are BLOODY EXPENSIVE!! As I said I have never had to pay for childcare before and I am a bit stunned. It would be close on £200 a week for a full time place which would be a big chunk out of my probable salary if I go back to work. As far as I understand, Council nurseries don't take children til they are 3. I don't think I would qualify for tax credits (at least on my basic understanding of the system) as my salary would be marginally too high.
Then someone mentioned free entitlement of 5 sessions a week? How does that work then? Does it apply to private as well as Council run? Does that mean I can use it to pay for private nursery AND take a place at my local Council nursery (they only do afternoons)? Is it means tested?
God I know NOTHING about all this. But I knew you would . . . so, please explain!

ZadokTheBeast Mon 24-Jun-13 20:56:25

Oh I should have said I am in Scotland, don;t know if that makes a difference.

laracroft2001 Mon 24-Jun-13 20:57:39

My ds is at a busy bees in London and I love love love it!! You can use your 15 hours free entitlement there as well.

BarnyardDance Mon 24-Jun-13 21:10:02

15 hours free is available when children turn 3. It is not means tested, and can be used at council and most private nurseries. Council nurseries near me take children youngerthan 3, but their rates are comparable with private nurseries. Find out if your employer does chilcare vouchers to help with the cost.

takeaway2 Mon 24-Jun-13 21:12:44

Both my kids were/are in busy bees and we have been v happy with them. We are in the south east. The 15 hr free is effective from the term after they turn 3 years old. And as far as I remember they did honor the 15
Hr deal which is not something that every nursery does.

They include the cost of nappies and all food. The food at ours is cooked on site which is something I was v pleased about as compared to the others around. The ratio is what the gov recommends and it's v clean/cheerful and I've been happy. Of course they cried when they were left but not for long (it's a universal thing for kids!!) and if they didn't settle they would call me which was what I wanted.

I would recommend them and have done so.

nextphase Mon 24-Jun-13 21:14:31

Are you worried about about the size of the nursery, or the fact that it is part of a chain? AFAIC it is 2 different issues.

Our nursery was recently taken over by Busy Bees. I'd say the quality of the nursery depends on the manager rather than the chain.

In england, the term after your daughter turns 3, she will qualify for 15 hrs a week in term time of funding. This can be used to deduct from the bill. The places round here which take from 3+ wouldn't be much use for a working parent - they work school times and terms!

If your job has the possibility of childcare vouchers, join. You can salary sacrifice upto £243/month to use for childcare. It means you don't pay any tax or NI on that amount, and saves around £70/month (slightly different numbers if you start earning over 40k).

Would you qualify for child benifit? I don't know what happens when you return to the UK after a period of time abroad.

It will be of little consolation, but thats actually a very reasonable weekly rate - there will be people down south who would love the nursery bill to "only" be that amount!!!!

ZadokTheBeast Mon 24-Jun-13 21:15:29

BarnyardDance what are childcare vouchers exactly?

ZadokTheBeast Mon 24-Jun-13 21:19:24

Oops think nextphase has answered it. Yes I expect my employer would provide vouchers in that case (NHS). So basically I take a proportion of my gross salary in vouchers and save the tax. That's good to know.
It makes me wonder, how much would I have to earn if I was on benefits to replace those AND pay for childcare. I reckon it's about £26K. That's quite a lot really, I am obviously not well informed a bit shocked.

BarnyardDance Mon 24-Jun-13 21:20:57

There's more info on childcare vouchers here:

ButNotAsWeKnowIt Mon 24-Jun-13 21:30:51

My DD was a busybees-er. On a day to day basis it never felt anything other than a local nursery, and the staff were all great. It was quite a big one, but as DD has now moved to a big primary this was not a bad thing. The first time I visited it felt to me like a nice place to be and that didnt change in about 3.5 years. As nextphase says, although a chain, I think the manager is the important thing, probably just as with any smaller independent, or childminder.

Middlesexmummy Tue 25-Jun-13 14:53:41

My dd attends busy bees in London and I echo everything in this thread ... I think the corporate part makes the staff look and act v professional , they keep a record of her daily activities and help wean her off certain things , in her case a massive comfort blanket she insists in taking with her everywhere . They are really helpful and the girls always come on the phone to give me an update when I call . It s great !

titsaturner Fri 28-Jun-13 20:45:49

My DD recently started at our local Busy Bees and seems really happy. Staff are lovely and are good at their jobs. Only complaint is she's lost two dummies and a bib. DH thinks that's normal for being at nursery.

CinnamonStix Wed 03-Jul-13 19:32:18

DS went to a Busy Bees nursery and he loved it. He's been to three nurseries now and I think Busy Bees was the best one.

I think it was the cheapest too - I'm pretty sure it was around £30 for a full day. At the moment, DS's nursery is £52 a day!

Hibsam Thu 23-Oct-14 21:18:30

Any advice about busy bee nursery at chiswick please?
Planing taking there my child n any review would mean a lot.


Hibsam Thu 23-Oct-14 21:51:20

Hi everyone.

I am trying to get some information about busy bee nursery in chiswick.

I am planing taking my child there but don't know much about them. On visit they seemed fine but it would be nice to hear about mothers or dads review.

Thank you very much.

TiggyD Fri 24-Oct-14 15:40:24

I've worked at 3 Busy Bees as supply. I'd say they varied from poor to average depending on staff/manager and on what chain they belonged to before BB took them over. Staff turnover fairly high, wages fairly low, little reinvestment in equipment and some very urgently needed issues ignored.

I don't know how much they cost, but they seem on the budget end of the scale with what you get in return. I wouldn't recommend the 3 I know.

Chicco51 Wed 12-Nov-14 00:12:09

Our baby went there for a few weeks. just the time to find urgently another arrangement. won't recommend. staff are lovely and caring and wonderful, really. Not all, but those in charge surely do their best, and you can clearly see how hard they work.. however unfortunately it did not work out for us:

- too many babies/children per person for the level of care I was expecting/they were advertising. Also I would have doubts about age groups as often saw all kids/babies together.
- too much confusion, untidy, could do a good cleaning, always had to ask things to two or three different people before getting an answer. Lost a few things too.
- extremely poor management, comunication with families less than zero, very dusty and tired athmosphere
- doubts about food

Just a big shame for some of the wonderful staff they have, so much wasted potential (again, management issue?).
We now found a lovely nanny who is finding it difficult to introduce my baby to playgroups as he screams as crazy if other children just get near him. She tried a few times now and I am a bit worried, not sure what to do.

trilbydoll Wed 12-Nov-14 19:57:27

DD is at a Busy Bees and it is fine, yes, she comes home in other kids' socks, her clothes get trashed and I have no idea what has happened to a few dummies. We have gained a bottle though grin I think it massively depends on the local manager and staff.

Re the cost, we have two locally and they are £10 a day different in cost. So I don't think it is entirely centralised pricing.

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