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Pre School Education and Childcare starved of cash

by Jackie Porter on 30 January, 2019

I am Chairman of Trustees of a Community run pre school. It runs from a school site, but it is not part of the school.

It is run by a charity, registered with Ofsted .

The Pre-School Learning Alliance reassures us that we are not unique: our financial situation is mirrored by many other settings.

The rate we receive for each child’s care and education from the Government (paid termly, partly in arrears) is pitifully low. The traditional rates of pay for staff working in this sector is traditionally low (as it is in many parts of the care sector).

We all know that the education and nurturing in the first years of a child’s life are the most critical to develop their brains, independence, leadership and resilience as well as become rounded human beings.

Our staff are trained, and commit to ongoing training. We have taken the responsibility to ‘grown our own’, and recently, we celebrated the success of our now qualified Apprentice.

The Early Years Foundation syllabus is changing and our Manager will be reviewing the work plans for each child to ensure that every one will be ready for school as a rising 5.

Now, again in April 2019, in line with Government plans, we are putting up wages in line with the National Living wage, and contributing more pension. And with the additional pension costs also incurred by the staff, their actual hourly income is only a few pence more than before.

I don’t resent the increase at all. Our staff are BRILLIANT, flexible, hard working and absolutely committed. They cope with the needs of every child, whatever their circumstance or stage of progression, celebrating every inch of success. The pre school early years sector includes childcare and education. All settings do both to ensure that children flourish. That includes nappy changing, and developing maths skills.

The settings deserve more money. But the payment per child per hour remains the same. It isn’t enough. Like many others, our buildings lease allows us to operate in school hours only, limiting availability to not much more than 30 hours, and we have to resort to seeking funds from other charities to manage a Government ’30 hours free’ scheme which the Conservative Government foisted upon us. It is free for parents, cheap for Government, but unsustainable for the sector.

It just isn’t fair to ask pre school organisations (whether community or privately run) to absorb these costs three years running when the rate per child per hour hasn’t increased. We are fighters: we will survive: we are determined that the pre school will be open for every child in the community. But it’s hard.

We are not alone.  The Pre-school Learning Alliance (PLA) is campaigning on this too. All over the county, early years education, especially for less well off families who use only the 570 or 1140 hours of funding, is being decimated by the poor funding by the Conservative Government.

I am calling on the Government to look again at this funding and say,” your policy isn’t sustainable, there’s a crisis and there’s a simple way to solve it: be realistic about the cost.”

 

 

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