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Day nurseries - FAQs

Costs

Will I have to pay more?

Yes, it’s a possibility. The cost and charges are set by the nurseries, not by the council.

However, we do want the nurseries to stay affordable. If the fees go up, we may be able to cover the difference in cost for some families (for as long as children continue to attend). 

Savings

Why are you doing this?

The total annual cost of running these nurseries is £2.1m and the cost is over £20,000 per year for each child who attends them. This is just not sustainable with the amount of financial cuts we as a council have to make.

Why do you need to cut the nurseries budget?

All local authority budgets and spending are being squeezed.  No areas are immune.  Money saved from the nurseries can be used to protect even more vital services.

Why do these nurseries cost more to run than private nurseries?

The main reason are staff pay and other overheads such as sharing the council’s cost for IT, management and other functions.

How can you maintain standards?

By setting tough and exacting conditions that services for children remain the same or better, that the nurseries stay affordable and that staff conditions are protected according to legal requirements. Several other nurseries in Tower Hamlets have Outstanding Ofsted ratings, which is better than the three council nurseries achieve.

Special needs and vulnerable children

Will our children get the same SEND support?

Yes.  Whoever runs the nurseries, children will continue to have SEND support provided by the council. This includes support paid for or provided under Education, Health and Care plans as well as specialist teaching for hearing impaired children.

How will you maintain the focus on SEND and vulnerable children in the borough and make sure they are prioritised?

These council nurseries only cater for a minority of the SEND children and services at all locations will continue to be provided as they are now, and vulnerable children that need a place will still get one.

Will the number of funded places drop?

No. All eligible children will continue to receive free childcare at the levels set by the government.

Staff

How will you make sure staff are fairly paid, protected and retained?

We will include a requirement that all new staff are paid at least the London Living Wage in the tender and contract documents.

We also want staff pay and conditions to be protected and are investigating what alternatives could be offered to staff as well as moving to a new operator on TUPE terms.

Options

What else did you consider before coming to this conclusion?

We looked at suggestions, some from staff. These included longer opening hours, fee changes and holiday activities. None of them provided the levels of income or savings needed.

Will there be cutbacks in other areas?  Why is early years being targeted?

Yes, there are cutbacks all across council areas. Every service area is being checked to see where we can make the government demanded savings.

OFSTED

What does “not met” mean on the FIS information? Is it the same as “requires improvement”?

“Not met” means that when the Ofsted inspector arrived for an unannounced inspection visit, the provider had no children on site. This term does not carry any form of judgement, and Ofsted then re-visits another time.

Consultation process

The consultation lasted 8 weeks and closed on 10th November.

We provided advice and links and set up a special email address for anyone who had problems: ey.future@towerhamlets.gov.uk – this is still available for people to ask further questions

Will the consultation report be published?  Will the equalities analysis be published?

Yes, we are considering publishing a version of the report.

Why were there no consultation meetings with residents?

Not everyone can or wants to attend public meetings, so consultations are usually online.  Meetings were held with current parents at the three nurseries in question.

Next steps

When will the decision be made?

The decision will go to the council’s Cabinet towards the end of January 2018.

When would changes come in?

September 2018, with a gradual implementation during the summer.

How much did this consultation cost?

The proposals and consultation were drawn up by council staff as part of normal working practice.  No external contractors were employed for this consultation.

Can parents see the tender documents to ensure quality is included, and be involved in the process to select new operators for the nurseries?

Yes, we want to make sure that parents are able to be involved in the procurement process.