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 is inviting parents along on National Kindergarten Day to celebrate the event, but to also explain to them the effects of the government shortfall.
The event, on Thursday, April 21st will see children and parents enjoying the outdoor area and getting involved in some planting.
Nursery manager Anita Shepherd said it will be a fun morning, but with a serious message to get across to parents and carers.
Kindergarten Day celebrates the birthday of Friedrich Froebel, who started the first kindergarten in Germany in 1837,” said Anita.
He believed in free play, and children enjoying the outdoors, which is why we decided to do the planting session. We hope parents, grandparents and carers will put their green fingered skills to good use and join in too.
Also, we will be chatting to parents about the government’s ‘free’ childcare scheme and about how we are expected to offer champagne nurseries, but with lemonade funding. I think some parents will be shocked when they learn how the government doesn’t cover the full cost of a child’s place at nursery.”
The Education Secretary has called on nurseries and other childcare providers to deliver 30 hours of free childcare in September 2016 to working parents.
However, research by the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) showed that at the moment, nurseries are managing to offer 15 hours of free childcare a week because they plug the shortfall in government funding.
The government provide £3.80 per hour, 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.
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, chief executive 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, but on April 21st we will be looking at it from a local level, talking to parents and getting them interested too.”
Picture: Friedrich Froebel