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Voluntary contributions - grrrrrrrrrrrrrr

13 replies

Pierrette · 21/02/2012 17:21

I have had a longstanding bugbear about my daughters' nursery asking us 'voluntary contributions' for supposedly govt-funded free hours (have posted about this before). This term we were charged over £500 for each daughter attending (so over a grand for 14 hours each). I decided this was getting ridiculous and told the nursery we can not afford it (we can't) and offered to pay half. Apparently the nursery can not afford to run without these 'voluntary' contributions (which you don't find out about until you're already signed up). Turns out they are mandatory and I've been told we are not welcome next term unless we cough up the full amount. I am seething. I know I can go to the council and they will support me, but this is just so uncomfortable when you are being told that the nursery is small/providing above-average care and that the government grant doesn't cover the basics, let alone any extras. However, I can't be looking for a new nursery for just one term before my daughter starts school (so unsettling for her). And I can't bear the thought of being the unwelcome parent who doesn't pay her way either. So stressed...

OP posts:
fireandlife · 21/02/2012 17:38

Our lovely little nursery had to close down because it didn't ask for parental contributions and couldn't afford to run on the government funding.

Pierrette · 21/02/2012 17:46

I do have sympathy for these struggling private nurseries, but £500 for 14 hours seems excessive. And there is no transparency - you sign up thinking you'll get your free funding, and then find yourself trapped and emotionally blackmailed. I don't want to report them or have them closed down, but it's not right that my girls have to switch nurseries either.

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EdithWeston · 21/02/2012 17:46

They are stressing you out - they'll be stressing others out, now and in the future. It is just plain wrong to expel a child because a voluntary contribution is not made. They do not deserve to continue to receive public funds whilst doing this.

I would bite the bullet and go to the council. Yes, it's tough for many nurseries at the moment. But the size of the contribution and the threat of expulsion are not typical, and to me beyond the pale.

Pierrette · 21/02/2012 17:55

I know, the word 'voluntary' would be hilarious if it wasn't stressing me out so much. I have asked the head to explain why she persists in pretending it's a voluntary contribution if not paying means expulsion - she has yet to give me a decent answer. It seems so devious to pretend parents have a choice.

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TiggyD · 21/02/2012 19:15

The sooner nurseries stop accepting these free places the better. They are just not worth it. Most nurseries make a loss on them.

Pierrette · 21/02/2012 19:55

True. But I suppose these nurseries fear they'll lose out completely if they opt out of the scheme and don't offer the funding. Feel like I'm in such a difficult situation - I can see the nursery's predicament (up to a point), but I feel like I'm the victim of the whole stupid mess.

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dribbleface · 22/02/2012 10:30

They should not be doing this, its against the code of practice and they will most likely be suspended from funding if found out. The amount seems excessive to me. I have every sympathy for the nursery in the sense that the scheme does leave nurseries out of pocket, BUT they cannot just choose to ignore the rules. I manage a nursery and I cannot imagine me every excluding a child over an issue like this.

bradbourne · 22/02/2012 10:39

£500 per term? So an extra £40/week on top of the government funding? Is it term-time only, or 50 weeks per year?

SardineJam · 22/02/2012 10:51

That does seem a lot! DS1's nursery place (not old enough for funding yet) is £745 a month, BUT that is for 50 hours a week, and includes all food etc

SardineJam · 22/02/2012 10:56

...oh, I see its per term...in which case its not excessive but does seem ridiculous!

Pierrette · 22/02/2012 23:16

Yes, its term time only, so 38 weeks a year. I can not find any examples of anyone topping up their nursery fees by this amount! However, the nursery is only open from 9 - 12 for 2 days a week, and 9 - 2.30 for the other 3 days. So, it can not generate much extra income... I have some sympathy as the government funding probably doesn't cover the rent, rates and staff fees. On the other hand it's a rubbish business model when the parents only find out once they join that their voluntary (mandatory) contributions are holding the nursery together. The bizarre thing is that I've told the head I know she's breaching her contract with the LA re the funding, and she's still threatened us with exclusion unless we pay up.

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OddBoots · 22/02/2012 23:20

It's a horrible situation all round, how on earth they expect the funding for 2 year-olds to work I don't know, the settings involved in the pilot made a massive loss on the scheme.

OneLittleBabyGirl · 23/02/2012 10:39

This reminds me of private schools and their 'voluntary' donations. If you don't cough up, you don't get in. A friend just told me it happened to her DC for a church school too, which is as disgusting as this nursery. They really should have told you beforehand. It's so unsettling for the LOs.

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