Staff at a Redditch nursery are getting behind a national campaign to raise awareness of the shortfall in funding for preschool children.
Bright Kids Nursery in Crabbs Cross invited parents along on National Kindergarten Day to celebrate the event, but to also explain to them the effects of the government shortfall.
The event, held on Thursday, April 21st saw children and parents enjoying the outdoor area and getting involved in some planting and creating a Bug Hotel with the children.
Nursery manager Anita Shepherd said it was a fun morning, and the parents had a lovely time. “Whilst we wanted to share our message about the funding issues in early years we were also celebrating all that was good about children’s learning and play outdoors, in the ethos of early years pioneer Friedrich Froebe, because today also commemorates his birthday, as well as the Queen’s own birthday” Anita said
“He believed in free play, and children enjoying the outdoors, which is why we decided to do the outdoor session. We hope parents, grandparents and carers will put their green fingered skills to good use and join in too.
The Education Secretary has called on nurseries and other childcare providers to deliver 30 hours of free childcare in September 2017 to working parents.
However, research by the Pre-school learning Alliance and the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) showed that at the moment, nurseries are only managing to offer 15 hours of childcare a week because they plug the shortfall in government funding by charging for additional services and hours.
The government provide £3.64 per hour in Worcestershire, but nursery places cost on average around £5 per hour – and that pays for staff, rents, training and other costs such as equipment, lighting and heating nursery food and activity resources for the children.
According to the research the average nursery is down around £34,000 a year due to the funding gap, with 89% of nurseries making a loss on free places – and this is only going to get worse when parents can claim the 30 hours childcare.
Tricia Wellings, Early Years Director of MBK Training in the West Midlands, which operates the three Bright Kids nurseries, said the term “free childcare” is totally inadequate.
“Firstly, it is not free, it is provider-subsidised, and secondly, it is not childcare, it is education,” she said.
“The early years learning sector is judged and graded more highly on the quality of education it provides to children than on the care provided, and quality costs. It is high time the Government acknowledged that there is no such thing as cheap childcare.
“We are getting involved in this national campaign, and we shared the campaign video ‘Champagne Nurseries, Lemonade Funding’ which has now had nearly 13,000 hits on you tube, with parents on the day so they can understand from a local level the impact of the underfunding”.