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Primary school nurseries vs local preschools

(12 Posts)
eversomuch Thu 19-Jun-14 19:49:04

DD will be starting preschool in September. She's 3 so her sessions will be covered under the free 15 hours allowed for all 3 & 4yo. We're now having to decide between a number of primary school nurseries & local preschools that are registered charities.

Does anyone feel there's any particular advantage to going with a primary school nursery over one of these other ones? In our case, the school nursery is NOT at the primary school DD will be attending.

The preschools not attached to a state primary school all specify a "voluntary" contribution, ranging from around £3.50 to £6 per session - which seems like a big range for schools that otherwise seem very similar. They also expect parents to volunteer for several sessions per term.

This is all new territory to me so
I'm curious about how other parents who have been through nursery handle these things.

Is the voluntary contribution really voluntary or pretty much expected? How about volunteering at the school (given, of course, that you're not back at work)?

A lot probably depends on the individual school, but I would appreciate hearing some experiences.


SueDNim Thu 19-Jun-14 19:56:05

I think it really is a case of visiting each to look around and talk to the staff about their approach. We have one of each locally. DD goes to the independent one due to the hours available and school holiday care, but I have also heard better things about it and the staff ratios are better. However I think that this must vary enormously and there won't be a clear answer other than to look at the options.

SueDNim Thu 19-Jun-14 19:57:36

We don't have a "voluntary contribution" for free hours. Free hours are free and additional hours are a fixed rate.

Sirzy Thu 19-Jun-14 19:59:53

I am pretty sure they can't insit on payment unless it is for something specific (so if they are providing lunch they could charge for that) but I am sure someone with more experience will be along soon.

With the not going to the school thing I would check if the majority do. DS is just coming to the end of his time at the pre school attached to the school he is going to and all but 3 pupils got into the school so they are now finding things a bit confusing it seems, especially as the rest of the children are visiting reception.

I agree with SueD though, you need to visit all the options and figure what works best for you

WaffleWiffle Thu 19-Jun-14 20:01:29

I find school nurseries far more academic and better at preparing children for full time school. Preschool and private nurseries are more child care and keeping children occupied.

School nurseries have trained teachers. Preschools often don't, just minimum wage workers.

BackforGood Thu 19-Jun-14 20:03:01

Nurseries aren't allowed to charge a top up for their 'free' hours, but (in our LA anyway - apparently it varies) they actually receive a lot less per child, per hour through the EE funding, than they would for a paid for place, hence the requests for parents to make some voluntary contributions.
A school Nursery will have a qualified teacher in charge, but a higher ratio (13 children to one adult). A PVI will be unlikely to have a qualified teacher in charge, but will have a 8:1 ratio, which, on days when not full, can be quite a lot better, as - for example if they have 9 children in, they still have to have 2 adults.
It's not possible to generalise which is better though - there are some fab nurseires out there and some pretty dire ones - you need to go look at your options and get a 'feel' - these are just starting points.

SueDNim Thu 19-Jun-14 23:45:49

DD's non-school nursery work hard at preparing the children for school, have a strong relationship with the local school and at least two of the staff have degrees in early years, with all of the staff having some sort of qualification (primarily level 3). They work at a 1:4 staffing ratio even at the preschool level - much better than the statutory minimum of 1:8 or the 1:13 you get in some school nurseries. I appreciate that it is probably an unusual nursery, but it certainly doesn't fit WaffleWiffle's experience of private nurseries.

TouchOfNatural Sun 22-Jun-14 15:35:32

SueDNim could be describing my preschool - ratios are 1:4 even for 4 year olds.. Children have big emphasis on independence and prep for school life.. Have a good mix of adult focus activities and child-led activities in a lovely environment.

Staff? 2 x level 6, 2 x level 4 (ex primary school teachers), 2 x level 3 and assistants who are currently doing their level 3. Highly qualified and experienced team.

All early years settings, whether a school nursery or a private nursery/preschool have to work within the EYFS and all approach it differently - so visit and see how they vary, yourself.

There can not be generalisations made between private and state... There is such variety in quality of care and education.

magichandles Sun 22-Jun-14 15:45:53

Yes, I think you have to visit and get a general idea. DD went to a local preschool last year as she turned 3 in November and I was so pleased with it I kept her there for the second year rather than sending her to a school nursery. I will also be sending DS to the preschool rather than the nursery.

My reasoning has mainly been that I'm very happy that DD will be ready for school when she starts, the teacher/pupil ratios are much better at the preschool and I thought a local preschool was a gentler introduction to education (she was at home with me full time prior to going) and I preferred an extra year before they get into more formal schooling with uniforms etc.

Our preschool has a voluntary contribution and it is just that, voluntary. Having said that, most people pay as far as I am aware.

Mitzi50 Sun 22-Jun-14 15:50:46

It does depend - but generally school nurseries are staffed by at least one trained teacher and there are some benefits of continuity if they are attending the nursery of their future primary school.

Having said that, my children were extremely happy at the local pre-school which provided excellent care and education.

mykidtownfl Thu 17-Jul-14 08:03:57

I am agree with Mitzi50 its depends on your but I suggest you for preschool. Because there are many preschool while have trained and experience teachers who manage the kids very well.

AtSea1979 Thu 17-Jul-14 08:07:31

I think you should go for preschool/private nursery based on if you put your DD in primary school nursery of a school she isn't attending when it comes to starting school your DD will want to attend that primary and stay with her friends and might find the transition to another school stressful, whereas hopefully at the preschool there is more chance some of the children will be attending the same school as her and that'll give her confidence.

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