Friday, 30 March 2007

Free nursery at any price?

Decided to stop talking about social media and start doing something. Now when the Government says its going to ensure that all 3 and 4 year olds will be able to access 15 hours of Nursery care "free" by 2010 - that sounds like a good thing. But as always, that's not the full story.

Sally Fitchett,  the owner of The Lighthouse Nursery School where my daughter goes, takes up the story:

So in essence: It will have a huge impact on ALL childcare settings – pre schools, Day nurseries, nursery schools, even the Sure Start family centres.

The current Nursery Education Grant (“NEG”) for 3 and 4 year olds does not, for the vast majority of Private, Voluntary and Independent Providers (“PVIs”) cover the cost of fees required to deliver the service. For this reason, it is less than truthful to call nursery education “free”. The NEG is therefore in fact a subsidy, as recognised by parents, providers and Local Authorities, and has always been regarded as such.

Other key issues are;

*Threatened closure of nurseries and playgroups as they struggle to provide 3 hours ‘free’ - increasing to 4 hours ‘free’.

*Shortage and inadequacy of places for children and reduction in parental choice.

*A drain from the industry of experienced and qualified staff, resulting in a skills shortage. Staff morale at low level due to demands for graduate level qualifications with little regard for Level 3 / 4 qualifications and EXPERIENCE.

*Increased fees for parents as a result of funding being paid below a unsustainable rate for many PVIs

*Increased bureaucracy – financial audit, holiday forms for 3 and 4 yrs!, marketing plans, and MUCH more.

Sally's not the only one getting angry about this and other parts of the country have started campaigns to stop this strategy going ahead.

Save Our Nurseries campaign group says WE BELIEVE IN A SURE START FOR CHILDREN, NOT A SURE END FOR NURSERY PROVIDERS.

So lets see if this social media stuff actually works. Please contact Sallyatlns@aol.com to either find out more or agree to sign a petition. The Government talks about choice - lets see that in action.

4 comments:

Rosie said...

Hi Katie. It would seem that the government is more interested in getting more children into childcare and more parents into work than the quality of the childcare. Presumably there is always the option to opt out of the NEG altoegther and pay the full price. I'm out of it altogether and have opted to stay at home with mine.

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