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Private nursery or school setting

(40 Posts)
MaximumVolume Thu 30-Apr-15 11:13:00

I'd like some thoughts on moving my DS from his private nursery setting into the nursery school class of the primary school he is likely to attend in 2016.

As far as I can see, the main points in favour are:

1) Hours are better. He currently does 5 morning sessions (7.30-1) at nursery, but we often don't get to nursery until 8.30, sometimes later. At school nursery, he will go from 8.55-1.30 as standard with an afternoon club that can be booked ad-hoc until 3pm for £5 per day.

2) Cheaper (?). I am unclear about whether it would actually be cheaper in the long-run. At nursery we pay for every single session that he does as standard every week of the year except for shut-down at Christmas. So for holidays etc, we pay whilst away. At nursery, it is school terms only & afternoon club is payg anyway. I suspect that the free 15hrs won't go very far at our current nursery, especially as it would cover less than 3 sessions leaving us with approx 2.4 sessions to cover at £27 per session and it would be for 51 weeks of the year & we'd have to cover the other 2.6 sessions as well for 13 weeks of the year. My hunch is that paying for some weeks/days of holiday club as needed will be cheaper in the long run.

3) Most important: school readiness. Our current nursery has lovely staff, but there is a fair bit of turnover. It's quite small, so when they have staff issues, they seem to manage by merging pre-school with the 2-3 class. Recently, this has been good; my tall 2.9 has enjoyed mixing with the older kids. He isn't physically intimidated as he is taller than some of the younger 3yo and his language has come on leaps & bounds. It does concern me that when he is about to go into reception, he will most likely have spent the summer with kids as young as 24 months on a daily basis.

So, I'd be really interested to hear the thoughts of the more experienced amongst you, or who are considering similar options yourselves.


LadyCatherineDeTurd Sat 02-May-15 14:10:35

We're in the same boat, and not sure what to do. DD is young in the year, not 3 til August, and has been doing a few hours a week at her private nursery since January. Settled really well, loves it, no problems. She has a place at the nursery in the primary school where we intend to send her, and until recently the plan was always for her to stay where she until September, then switch to the school nursery. But starting to wonder if she will be ready. The current nursery has a preschool room, for children turning 4 that academic year, and the free hours are available there. Both settings are nice. The nursery is rated outstanding, the school good, though I don't know how much attention to pay to Ofsted anyway. I just wonder if she's ready.

In our case, the hours are a point against the school nursery, because it's 9 til 3.15. That seems a ridiculously long day for a child barely 3. They've said we can do a phased start, but not many kids do this after the first few weeks. I'm wondering if it would be better, if we don't want her FT for a while, to send her to an actual PT setting rather than PT hours in a place that designs the programme for 30 hours. On the other hand, the private nursery can't do the hours we want either- prefer 3 x 5 hour days, but they can only offer than from 8am which won't work well for us. So we'd have to take the 15 hours as two 7.5 hour days, and not send her for all of it, then pay for a shorter session on another day. I'm not sure what the work situation for me is going to be in a few months either (on ML with no job to go back to...) so it's impossible to plan!

But basically, it seems to be a choice between a setting that will better prepare her for school, and one that's more specifically designed for younger children, iyswim. The school nursery seems a lot more structured, but then it might be a bigger leap between nursery and school if she stays where she is? Torn!

LadyCatherineDeTurd Sat 02-May-15 15:48:33

Oh I also meant to say the ratio at the private nursery is 1:8, while it's 1:13 at the school nursery. That seems like a big difference. Does anyone know if it's significant? OP have you thought about the ratios at the two settings you're considering?

mrbrowncanmoo Sun 03-May-15 12:49:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LadyCatherineDeTurd Sun 03-May-15 14:41:03

Thanks mrbrown. What was the ratio at your nursery?

I actually think DD would suit both, she enjoyed both on visiting, but we're leaning towards private nursery now. Sort of feeling like we're not ready to lose her to full time education just yet, iyswim.

mrbrowncanmoo Mon 04-May-15 08:59:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LadyCatherineDeTurd Mon 04-May-15 09:12:37

No, there's not, and in fact the PT place might actually be more work friendly. Not sure, because I'm on ML with nothing to go back to, but I imagine a couple of longer days plus maybe a morning would fit better with it than 5 x 6 hour days, as I intend to work PT. Also DH is off on Fridays so it would be nice if they continued to have that day together. I think there will be 3 days a week where we don't need any childcare at all. Obviously she will be full time in school, but that's still 16 months away yet. She does 3 x 3 hours right now, having built up from 2 x 3 hours, so actually I guess even 15 hours is quite a big jump? I hadn't actually considered behaviour deterioration, was more worried about exhaustion.

1:5 is very good, I didn't even know that existed for 3-4 year olds. All the providers near us are rated either good or outstanding but none have that ratio!

Littlefish Mon 04-May-15 23:05:17

It's worth checking the ratio at the school nursery. I work in a school nursery and although I'm a qualified teacher, we still keep to a 1:8 ratio. Often, the ratio is even better than this - sometimes 1:5.

Mopmay Mon 04-May-15 23:16:09

Mine did school nursery. DC1 was likely to get into the school. DC2 pretty guaranteed a sibling place. 45 in a class with one lead teacher and 3 TAs plus occasional students and parent helpers and seperate PE etc
We have 2 nursery classes at our school - all over subscribed.
It's amazing and a mixture of free play and structured play.
Ratio is bigger than some nurseries but it's amazing for development - I see boisterous and quiet DC thrive
The answer depends on what you want and what the school offers. Transition to reception is a non issue as they all move up together. (3 classes)

Mopmay Mon 04-May-15 23:21:44

What is noticeable is that the nursery children are happy and confident moving into reception. The children from tiny nurseries or CM look like scared rabbits. The nursery children (75 of 90 move up generally) all know each other, the school, the afterschool club etc. They have wide friendships across all classes. The new children only ever have friends in their own class from my experience

AtomicDog Mon 04-May-15 23:25:39

Don't forget that even if you move him to the nursery of the school you want him to attend, he will not get priority in the primary school (unless it's independent, or priority is expressly written into their admission criteria).
Also, please remember that you still have to apply for his primary school place (because people don't!!!)

Mopmay Mon 04-May-15 23:33:30

Atomic is right. For us DC1 was 95% likely to get in on distance - distance was the lowest ever so we just got in!

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Tue 05-May-15 00:17:57

I'm not sure that ratio's even legal mopmay. By my reckoning 90 children split into 2 nursery classes of 45 in a maintained setting requires 2 qualified teachers and 2 TAs in each class.

I would check the ratios and qualifications. You might find that some settings play fast and loose with the number and level of qualification of the staff. If that's the case, I would start to wonder where else they are cutting corners.

LadyCatherineDeTurd Tue 05-May-15 07:36:36

Is 1:13 unusually bad for a school nursery then? It did seem like a lot of 3-4 year olds for one person.

I did wonder whether not going to school nursery would mean missing out on friendships etc. The school is very much a community, whereas the private nursery's not. Dsis is a teacher and said that's not something she'd worry about, and DD knows a few of the kids from the community anyway, so there's that. Also at least one of her extended family will be in the same year (it's that kind of area) though we'll be asking for them not to be in the same class. But it's a faith school, and a lot of the kids go to church and socialise afterwards on a Sunday, so we need to get our heathen arses into gear!

chickenpoxpanic Tue 05-May-15 07:42:45

1:10 to 1:13 is normal in a school nursery ime. Depends on the nursery but generally higher quality staff = higher quality experience for the children compared to a private nursery with more, lower qualified staff and a higher staff turnover.

Mopmay Tue 05-May-15 07:53:54

Rafals it's 1 teacher plus 3 TAs in each class. That's plus parent helpers, PE teacher etc and a SEN support worker in one class.
It's a school nursery - they don't muck about with ratios!

Mopmay Tue 05-May-15 07:55:09

Oh ands it also ofsted outstanding for years and part of a national lead school. We often have student teachers too on top

Mopmay Tue 05-May-15 07:59:29

Re qualifications - most of our TAs are ex teachers who work now as TAs (their choice). Some are aspiring teachers.
Just read the comment about faith - if you have schools in mind, get your head round admissions now. Near us you need 2 full years of church attendance for the CofE etc - it varies greatly

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Tue 05-May-15 08:15:05

As long as they are paid with the terms and conditions of a teaching contract that's fine. But while the ratio might be more than the 1:13 minimum they're required to employ one teacher for every 30 children in a group. I assume they get away with it by telling Ofsted that the ex-teachers are counted as teachers meanwhile saving money by employing them as TAs. It's a crap way to treat your staff to save money. And if OfSTED don't check the contracts they won't realuse you are over legal ratio.

Ofsted outstanding sometimes just means the head knows how to play ofsted's paperwork game rather than being outstanding. I've taught in a couple I wouldn't touch with a bargepole.

LadyCatherineDeTurd Tue 05-May-15 08:20:09

It's not difficult to get into church schools where I am. The chances of DD not getting a place for reception are just about zero. If you're baptised and live locally, you're in. We're not C of E though, and it's a poor area of a northern city so not exactly competitive. I meant we needed to start going to church so DD could get to know some of her future classmates better that way- most don't go but some do. Attendance throughout her life has been, um, sporadic!

KarmaNoMore Tue 05-May-15 08:26:14

When DS was that age, we decided between:
1- a lovely nursery he was attending since he was a few months old, nothing fantastic, but he felt at home there.
2- a pre-school club just accross the street, that was absolutely rubbish.
3- a wonderful pre-school in a private school 45 minutes away.

We choose option 3, which really did wonders to develop his mind, his interest in learning, his language and set him up 3 years ahead of his peers in the state school across the street he eventually joined.

But by moving from option 1, we removed important friendships and he spent a long time being the odd one out in his new school. He learned to be a "foreigner" and he still is, no matter how many years have passed and in which situation he is in.

By not taking option 2, we made it difficult for him to settle in the school accross the road when he eventually moved there, as the friendship groups which started in the preschool were set in stone. He eventually made friends with other new comers, who like him were ostracised and bullied until they left the school. Being so advanced academically was a disadvantage too, teachers insisted he couldn't be working at that level at his age and put him to do reading and exercises that he had covered when he was 4 in Year 2. They certainly killed his joy for learning but perhaps, that was just a rubbish school all around (despite what their wonderful OFSTED report said).

Now, knowing the outcome of this, I think we should have left him in his first nursery (1), as 3-5 is such a crucial crucial age, when their personality is being set. I think that at that age, the best place is the one where they feel loved and happy, and where they could develop their self esteem and a good image of themselves. (Or send him to the private school's nursery, but then I didn't know about it when DS was tiny).

Mopmay Tue 05-May-15 09:25:38

Rafals I have no idea what contracts they are on. I just know that there are plenty of qualified teachers and lots of support staff. Most staff have been there for over 5 years so they must be happy. There are 90 happy children and the progress is excellent - including summer borns and SEN children. All play based, all well thought out and with high pastoral care

Heels99 Tue 05-May-15 09:35:22

Do you need childcare during the school holidays? If so the pre school may not be best option.

LadyCatherineDeTurd Wed 06-May-15 15:36:19

Probably not, got family locally.

On another point, the nursery have said it's all continuous provision- ie they have activities out but the children can do whatever they want. DD could spend the whole day running up and down the slide if she wanted. Whereas the preschool do a mixture of structured group activities like singing, phonics etc, and continuous provision. I don't actually mind which DD does: from what I can tell, she knows a lot of the stuff they're looking to teach them like numbers and stuff, the reason we want her to go is more for the social side. But obviously in reception, she'll have to sit down and do the activities the teacher says. Is it likely to be a huge leap from a nursery where she's been able to do whatever she wants? For background, she's pretty bright and a very able communicator but is less good at things like paying attention when not interested and her spatial awareness isn't that brilliant. She's sort of the stereotypical bright, young in the year girl- loads of words but hasn't worked out yet that it's quicker to go around obstacles than through them. The main things she likes at nursery at the moment are singing, slide and lunch!

chickenpoxpanic Wed 06-May-15 16:43:50

Rafals - the ratio is 1:13 in a nursery class with a teacher. 45 children with 1 teacher and 3 other staff is fine so long as the other staff are level 3 qualified. 1:30 is an infant class.

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