Oct 13, 2008

Difficult times across the childcare sector

After a glorious weekend of sunshine it is always hard to get back to the grindstone on Monday morning, but I am just reading through my notes from a meeting I attended on Friday. We were discussing policy issues that would affect childcare providers in the current economic climate and a recent survey was quoted which stated that 52% of day nurseries were currently making a loss. Fairly scary statistics, given that we are in a long-running debate about how Local Authorities use the Nursery Education Funding that is available for 3 and 4 year olds. One of the difficulties is that the system is so complex that very few parents using nurseries or childminders actually understand how the funding is applied. The Prime Minister announced last week that the funding would be rolled out to 2 year olds within the course of this Parliament, but we do not have any more detail than this at the present moment.

In principle, I welcome this extension of funding, as it allows even more people access to early years education and helps parents cope better with the financial burden of childcare. I’m a working Mum and know just what a large chunk of income can go on childcare. However, the Government continues to ignore the fact that the amount allocated by Local Authorities does not actually cover the cost of the session that is provided, so in practice, the private sector is subsidising Government policy and it is no surprise that so many voluntary pre-schools and charitable pre-schools are struggling to make ends meet. A lot of discussions and lobbying is going on, but as it stands at the moment, many of us are nervous about how we will manage to offer yet more loss-making Nursery Education Funded sessions. Let’s hope the real value of good quality childcare becomes a higher priority as the parties start thinking about their manifestos for the next election.

Back at nursery level, congratulations to our Filkins nursery for achieving a ‘GOOD’ scoring in their recent OFSTED report, which should be available on the OFSTED website any day (www.ofsted.gov.uk). We will all be making the most of this lovely sunshine for as long as it lasts, I feel a few conker collecting walks coming on! Enjoy your week……………………..

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