15 hours ‘free’ childcare - help me understand this!

(32 Posts)
Polly46219 Sun 29-Jul-18 19:27:56

This is such a simple question but I can’t find anyone who can give me an explanation and that includes the nursery which my 3 year old son attends! He spends one day at week at his nursery; that’s a 10 hour day. The daily fee is £65. So, why after signing up to these 15 free hours a week, am I paying £45 a day? Surely it would be free? Am I being thick? Can anyone explain this to me? I can’t help feeling I’m being overcharged. Thanks all

OP’s posts: |
trilbydoll Sun 29-Jul-18 19:31:25

The funding isn't enough so nurseries will say 9-12 and 1-4 are funded but you have to pay wraparound for the other 4 hours plus the food.

If you want it to be truly free, you need to use a termtime only preschool that is open school hours. However that isn't much use for the longer day or the holidays!

GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat Sun 29-Jul-18 19:33:26

It’s known as a vote winner! In truth it’s all lies and providers can’t afford to keep subsidising your ‘free’ childcare.

Loraline Sun 29-Jul-18 19:33:27

Exactly what @trilbydoll said. You could probably book 2 mornings a week for free but for whole days you need to oay for meals and the middle of the day.

OddBoots Sun 29-Jul-18 19:33:42

The nursery may only offer a fixed number a day as funded hours so to get the full 15 hours he may have to attend 5 days a week.

Because there are a few different ways they can do things (some of which are officially fine, some are not meant to happen) you are best asking the nursery themselves.

Bombardier25966 Sun 29-Jul-18 19:36:21

Even with termtime only there will be fees for food and any other extras.

As above, it was a shockingly bad effort to win votes. Like Jeremy *unt bleating on about us all having a named GP, except many of us have never even met them.

FATEdestiny Sun 29-Jul-18 19:41:48

Polly46219 - you qualify for up to two 3 hour sessions per day.

Some examples of how you may use that are:

- 9am-12pm Monday to Friday

- 1pm-4pm Monday to Friday
- 9am-12pm then 1pm-4pm two days a week, plus one half day for 3h.

In this last example, you must pay for 1h private childcare and a meal (since meals are not included in the free childcare) on the full days. You must drop off not before 9am and collect not later than 4pm on the two full days.

Most nurseries have a minimum private session length of 4h. So even if your child does a 9am-4pm day, and so only has 1h private childcare and a meal, you may still be required to pay for 4 hours as a minimum.


cliffdiver Sun 29-Jul-18 19:43:57

You'll need to check with your Nursery what times they provide the 15 free hours.

In a lot of nurseries it is 9am - 12pm Monday - Friday (Term time only), so you'll only actually be getting 3 hours (and nothing during school holidays) if your DS only attends one day a week.

GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat Sun 29-Jul-18 19:44:43

FATE - not quite true. The maximum amount of hours that can be claimed in one day is 10 BUT only if that’s how the setting chooses to offer it. Each setting will do it differently, the Op needs to ask hers how they offer it.

Mindthecat Sun 29-Jul-18 19:46:03

Really only your nursery can answer this. There are so many models of delivery, such as FATE described above, that we won't be able to tell you which was your nursery does it. The funding form that you signed might give you an indication of which hours the nursery is claiming for from the local authority. (It does in my area, but I'm not sure if different councils have different forms)

FATEdestiny Sun 29-Jul-18 19:47:02

He spends one day at week at his nursery; that’s a 10 hour day

He is only using two of his 3h free nursery sessions.

He is eligable for three other sessions on the other four days (when you are off work?).

On the day you work, he is using a morning 3h session and an afternoon 3h session (the time between, before and after, and any meals you have to pay for).

So you can arrange for him to have three other 3h nursery sessions on the other days.

Bear in mind this is term-time only though.

Rainshowers Sun 29-Jul-18 19:47:39

Our nursery stretches the free hours over the whole year, but then charges from 7.45-9, and 3.30-6, plus a consumables cost (they have external providers running classes etc), so overall it’s definitely not free, but I do save a little so can’t really complain. They also sent a very clear breakdown of how it was calculated, although it took quite a bit of chasing to get it.

DD also attended some preschool sessions which (apart from £10 per half term snack fee) were totally free but obviously that isnt really an option if you want proper childcare (9-12, term time only!)

SoyDora Sun 29-Jul-18 19:48:02

Even with termtime only there will be fees for food and any other extras

Not necessarily, our 15 hours at a term time only nursery are entirely free. DD2 does 9-3 2 days a week and 9-12 1 day a week and I pay nothing.

GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat Sun 29-Jul-18 19:49:00


FATEdestiny Sun 29-Jul-18 19:50:46

GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat - you cannot have back-to-back free childcare sessions. There must be a gap between them for meals. Therefore in a 10 hour day, you do not have time to fit in three 3h sessions, with enough gap for meals between sessions. Hence the OP will be using two sessions.

GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat Sun 29-Jul-18 19:51:44

That’s not true!

SoyDora Sun 29-Jul-18 19:52:07

FATEdestiny DD2 has back to back sessions. 9-12 and 12-3 (so 9-3).

GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat Sun 29-Jul-18 19:54:07

Do you work in a nursery FATE?

Mindchilder Sun 29-Jul-18 19:54:54

Of course you can have back to back sessions, settings can choose to offer them any way they want.

Some offer only 9-12 or 9-3 or 8-11 and 3-6 or 8-6 or any other arrangement.

AutoFilled Sun 29-Jul-18 19:55:19

In my DC nursery you can only use the free hours in the afternoon because their mornings are more popular. And there are other restrictions like others say about say 3 hours per session but the afternoon session is actually from 1-6pm. It is spread over all year so I get 22 hours per month off, but the days where I am claiming, I pay extra for the addition hours for the session since I don’t qualify for the whole session discount. What it does is reduce the childcare invoice at the end of the day. So I’m not complaining. My bill went down from nearly £1200 a month to just under £700. Just think it’s cheaper than before 3.

AutoFilled Sun 29-Jul-18 19:56:24

Sorry I mean I get 22 hours per week claimed spread over a whole year instead of 30 hours a week.

Mindchilder Sun 29-Jul-18 19:58:10

They can also choose to only offer term time only, or stretch the funding all year round.

One nursery might offer only 15 hours term times between 9-12 every day 'free', so someone like the OP doing one 10 hour day actually only gets 3 free hours.

Another nursery might offer 11.5 hours any time between 8-6 all year round so one 10 hour day would be free.

PigtailsAndPlaits Sun 29-Jul-18 20:00:39

I work in a nursery and we working the 15 hours as either three am or three pm sessions (8-1 or 1-6) per week term time only or two sessions stretched all year round. We also work it as one full day (8-6) all year or one full day (8-6) and one half session term time only.

FATEdestiny Sun 29-Jul-18 20:10:05

SoyDora - there are too many factors involved and it's possibly too private you discuss here. But it could be to do with qualifying for 15h nursery at aged 2 means you so so qualify for free school meals. It could be the 30h free childcare if you work 16 hours, alongside free school meals. It could be some school based nurseries combining universal free school meals for KS1 with EYFS meals, so no longer collecting dinner money for nursery (but there still should be a break between sessions in order to eat)

Mindchilder Sun 29-Jul-18 20:12:31

FATE, there's absolutely no requirement for funded hours to have a 'meal break' in them, I think maybe you have got something confused.

Some setting might charge separately for meals, some might let children bring packed lunches, some choose to swallow the cost themselves, but there is absolutely nothing stopping a setting offering 8-6 as 10 funded hours in one day.

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