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Limiting free childcare sessions for over 3 year olds

(14 Posts)
honeybun2014 Fri 11-Apr-14 19:35:02


I have searched the forums and haven't been able to find a situation quite like the one I now face.

My twin boys have been in nursery for approximately 18 months. They do 3 morning sessions a week and we are very happy with the service we have received during this time.

They shall be turning 3 soon along with many others at the nursery. This has prompted the nursery to issue us with a letter stating what sessions they will offer free childcare in and which they will not.

Unfortunately of these free sessions, only one is a morning session. Anything we want to use outside of these sessions will be down to us to pay. We of course enquired about afternoon sessions as I would try to change my entire working life around what they could offer. They immediately said they had no free spaces during this time. This coming a day after they handed the letters out so surprised me that so many parents had already returned it.

I am confused why they have set certain sessions as "free" and others as "payment only". I can't believe that it is a staffing issue as they will need adequate staffing during all periods anyway. The cost is very reasonable and I would also be surprised in the funding provided by the local council is that much different. Are they allowed to stipulate sessions in this way?

My boys are behind with their development and I realise extra care is required for them. They seem keen to recommend the local school and a nearby specialist school as opposed to trying to accommodate their needs. Until now they have been very supportive but after receiving this letter and trying to come to an arrangement this week everything appears to have changed.

I am not too sure what to do as I can't afford to give up work nor can I justify their development being hindered further. Any advice?

insancerre Sat 12-Apr-14 07:40:33

most nurseries do not make Amy money on the free sessions
they limit the number of free places in a session to ensure they are making s profit
don't forget they will already have funded children at those sessions because children will have claimed the grant before yours
if they take 2 year olds they may have included those in the amount of free places thy can offer
it may also be down to staffing if they've got part time staff as obviously the nursery is limited to the numbers of children they can take if they have less staff on some sessions
if you need the same sessions because of work commitments can you not just keep the same days and deduct the funding from the bill?

3DcAndMe Sat 12-Apr-14 07:42:20

3 year funding is much lower than most nurseries hourly rate, ultimately it's up to them when they offer it tbh

DrownedGirl Sat 12-Apr-14 08:02:50

It would be worth speaking to the local council, as this doesn't sound quite right in term of the funding agreement - them not being able to offer you 15h free, by the sound of it.

HSMMaCM Sat 12-Apr-14 09:22:33

It sounds like they are able to offer the free 15 hours, but don't have spaces in their allocated sessions at the moment. You might find that they are expecting to have more availability in September when the oldest children go off to school.

3DcAndMe Sat 12-Apr-14 09:23:57

They can offer her 15 hours just not the 15 she wants

insancerre Sat 12-Apr-14 09:38:56

also you have twins which means they are offering you the days they can accommodate them. it might be different if it was 1 child
are you hoping to just do the funded hours? what will you do for holidays
why won't you consider the other schools . they might be able to better meet your needs and those of your children

honeybun2014 Sat 12-Apr-14 10:37:53

Thank you for the responses!

I am concidering the other schools but as they have done so much to help their development I didn't want them to leave.

In term time I would just pay the full amount as I would still be working.

They are saying they won't have free sessions in September which is what slots they are asking about now. Again I feel like I am being ushered out as it surprises me that they could know this more than 4 months in advance!

What I also don't understand is why the free sessions have to be on certain days? Say I put them in on a Tuesday morning out of a free session they will still need enough staff to care for them and the difference we would pay compared to the council wouldn't be enough to fund an extra member of staff.

Is it usual for nurseries to offer certain sessions as free and others as not?

insancerre Sat 12-Apr-14 11:07:58

it is up to each nursery to decide how they offer the free sessions
i would avise speaking to the manager as they may be able to keep the places and just dedcut the funding off your monthly bill

honeybun2014 Sat 12-Apr-14 12:40:10

We tried to speak to the manager without much luck. As they are only in nursery in the mornings it would mean we would only be getting 5 hours of the free childcare we're entitled to as every other morning is outside of the free sessions.

BackforGood Sat 12-Apr-14 12:51:24

I find that very odd. All the Nurseries I go in to offer the funding in all sessions. A lot will only offer a long morning/long afternoon (say 8 - 1 or 1 - 6) rather than 10 - 3 say, and that is so they have the capacity to take more children.
Some will only offer all morning or all afternoons or a 2 and 1/2 day split, as they find it easier organisationally.
What times are you doing now, and what times are they offering you for Sept?

racmun Sat 12-Apr-14 12:53:30

The nurseries can offer it when they like. The rate from LA is ridiculously low about £4 odd an hour. It is unlikely they can afford to run at that so limit the free sessions, which are going to be the least popular slots, in effect the free sessions make up the numbers.

You can either find a Pre school in a church hall type place where the total cost is covered by the 15 hours and then have to find cover etc for the holidays, find another day nursery and probably have to pay a bit extra or stay where you are and accept it.

3DcAndMe Sat 12-Apr-14 13:11:44

The rate from my LA is £3.45!

insancerre Sat 12-Apr-14 13:19:35

we get about £3.78 I think
our hourly rate is £4 so we are at a loss straight away
if we filled our places with funded children and didn't have any fee paying we wouldn't survive and would go out of business
thats why the nursery is stipulating when you can take the free hours
they need to make a profit

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