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Pure 2-year-old Setting


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I won't bore you all with the details but following a recent amalgamation of primary schools in our village the Headmaster is now trying to build his ideal school. He potentially wants his maintained nursery to have all the 3 and 4 year olds, and then a PVI setting to cater for the 2 year olds. It is my carefully considered opinion that this is not, and cannot be viable.


What is your experience or opinion. Do you know of schools and settings that have made this work, either in the same format or another way that you could tell me about?


Please prove me wrong for the sake of all the lovely 2 year olds on my books and my lengthy waiting list :o

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The head of our local schoolhad a nursery after much wrangling. He wanted an FS unit so the children would stay with him and not go to other local schools. We are next door and seriously worried about our sustainability but 3 years later we still have full waiting lists and full sessions.

What your head wants and what will happen dont necessarily match. Parents stayed with us because they knew us, they had recommendations from friends and they get to choose the sessions (more or less) The nursery is operated by Sure Start, costs a fortune, doesnt have the same level of qualified staff as us and is in a small room compared to our church hall. (They also send home homework) :o

I wouldnt send a child of mine there when I have a choice of a playgroup next door and you'll find your parents wont necessarily take up a nursery place.

But you asked about a setting only for 2 year olds. If the government roll out the funding for 2 year olds nationwide, it could be viable, but you'll also need a higher ratio of staff so that might be more costly. You could run it like a parent and toddler group to cut down on the staffing costs, draw the parents into their childs education.

I hope things work out ok for you. I know we were worried to death but in our case there was no need.

Edited by Rea
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The main problem I can see is the moving about for the children. Some two year olds take weeks and weeks to settle into nursery, and if they then have to move on to a different setting at the age of three, this would not be in their best interests. It's so much better for them to stay for two or more years in the same nursery, I think. :o

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Also, has your head considered that he might need to consult with the local community before he opens up a nursery? Ours hadnt, and before he had Surestart move in, he was going to use a private provider, that fell through due to legalities, of which I believe, non consultation was one. The lady in charge at the council was quite amazed that I knew so much and was unhappy about it for some reason. He wouldnt consider playgroup running from his premisis because he saw the staff as baby sitters, shame he then ended up with less quaified staff than we have :o

He must also understand that you are a business and upsurping you in this way isnt on. I'm pretty sure that a setting cant be duplicated if there isnt a need, you might want to speak to your parents, find out if any struggle to find childcare, look at other provision within a certain area, find out if demand outweighs the places or vice a versa.

He might be all smiles and sound like he's considering you, but a teacher once told me 'a head hasnt got to be a head without stepping on a few toes'. Obviously that doesnt go for all, but in my experience our head was purely out for his own aims. He's since been sacked for being rubbish by the way. But the fact still stands, your head must consult and consider your business, your LA should be able to help you and the PLA, if they're interested these days.


I get very irate when schools, who are near to perfectly good settings, want to set up a nursery without considering anyone else. I was prepared to fight the devil himself if it meant keeping our playgroup open.

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agree with Rea,

just because he wants it doesnt mean it is the same as parents want... no reason that a successful PVI setting has to change . But you may have competition if he is allowed to do this...


Sounds like if you need advice and a bit of knowledge on this Rea is the one to ask..



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There's been a lot of dialogue already and there are a lot of politics I can't go into. They have always had a maintained nursery and a pvi group on site. They are keen to build a school for 21st century and are exploring all options. There will be a morning session which will be maintained and what is open to debate is whether the afternoon could/should be maintained too, or PVI. As you've already mentioned above, continuity is so important. But, at any cost? If we stick to our guns and stay in our church hall we will probably close cos fickle parents will want an all-singing, all-dancing new and beautiful setting where they can get wraparound care..... so we could be shooting ourselves in the foot.


That's really why I want to carefully research all the possibilities before the next meeting so I am as prepared as possible.

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I'd speak to your LA.

When our head wanted a school nursery he was refused as there was enough provision in the area, thats why he tried a private provider, who were rather put out when our chair and staff attended meetings, and then he got Surestart in who had a nursery close by and were the hub for about 4 other settings, his nursery is seperate from the school as far as decision making goes although the teachers do get involved a little.

Not what he wanted and our chair at the time had to speak to him because we heard a rumour that the school were presenting the nursery in a way that parents were led to believe they would get an automatic place in reception if they went to the nursery. Totally out of order.

I'd get the LA involved. Tell them he's said he wants a nursery and that he wants all the 3 years olds from the area, push your point that you have a waiting list and full sessions, get your parents on board, they might not want a shiny new building, they might what you provide in a drafty old hall. Ours did. Speak to the LA, they might not be aware of his intentions yet. And keep on at them until you get answers.

Dont take it lying down. Make sure you're kept informed and your voice is heard.

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The LA are very involved! We were supposed to have a joint meeting again this week but I couldn't make it due to snow and falling down!! I was most surprised when they cancelled it saying I was vital to the discussions.....


Rea, do you think pure 2 year old settings can be viable? My concern is that if the school go ahead with a maintained nursery in the mornings and afternoons there will be no provision left for 2 year olds as I don't believe they are viable as a standalone group..... Therefore I have spent ages pulling together thoughts and costings to prove this based on our current staffing costs. Given a 1:4 ratio, min 2 staff I've already hit £8 per session without adding a figure for rent, set up of new provision, non-contact/management time or staffing on-costs (holiday pay, redundancy contingency, Tax, NI etc). I do not think parents would be prepared to pay about £9, do you?


Hopefully a few hard figures will help him to appreciate what we are saying.

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I'm going to tell him loud and clear that if there's no 2 year old provision he will reap the consequences with lower outcomes for children in nursery/foundation/Reception ..... you know what I'm saying, not quite sure I expressed it well tho!

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I'd say speak to your parents, they may have heard rumours anyway and be worried about the future of the playgroup. Speak especially to the ones with younger children, put it to them that fee's would need to rise to a quite high level or you would close and there would be nowhere for the under 3's. Or wait and see. See if you can get sustainablity funding to help you out. The teacher from the local surestart is trying to get funding for us to pay our rent for a year. She needs 2 years of budget and a forecast for the next year, unfortunatly we had a treasurer who didnt understand the role so we cant give her what she wants, but she said there is loads of money waiting to be claimed. It might be the same where you are. Ask the LA if they could support you, pointing out that the school nursery will possible cause your closure. They cant come in and put you out of business, I know I sound petulant, but, its not fair.

I dont know any oter settings who have only 2 year olds except for parent and toddler groups. Maybe you could use it as a new venture to set up a parent learning centre. Have you got a local college that might be able to support you with learners? Bring their tutors in for short courses, you could offer a crech as well as your usual sessions.

Dont know if any of its possible but it might help with funding. Do you know if the funding for 2 years olds is going ahead everywhere? I had this in post just before christmas, it might help. It tells us the criteria for claiming.

Its from Birmingham City council so I dont think there will be copyright problems.

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Ok Birmingham city council say that...

To date a referal is made by a proffessional to the flying start team and this application is taken to a panel meeting. A package of childcare is recommended and any family support, and a decision on funding is made.

The criteria for settings who would like to be considered for providing places is...

The setting:

Good or outstanding- if satisfactory they must be working towards a QA scheme, have a focus plan, have regular support from other professionals, attended training which will have a positive impact on the setting.

Employ a graduate EYP or teacher, or be commited to employing through the graduate leader fund within 6 months.

Have attended and being involved in a QA scheme

Have evidence of CPD of all staff

Sound understanding of parental engagement

Have evidence of safeguarding policies and practices

Be willing to accommodate children who are refered



The child turned 2 the previous term

The family are in receipt of (one or more) - income support, job seekers allowance, child tax credit at the higher rate, extra working tax benefit relating to a disability, pension credit, national asylum seekers means test.


Hope thats of some help, obviously councils are different but it might give you an idea of how funding for 2 year olds can be claimed.

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This has been kind of like this in my area for about 3 years now.

Schools are maintained nursery in the morning and PVI in the afternoon. All of the maintained places are taken by the eligble 3 year olds in the September and attend the morning sessions, afternoon is considered 'wrap around'.

However when a lot of our playgroupers turn 3 and are elgible for funding, they go to the afternoon PVI sessions at the school, (they also take children who may not even get into their school).


When asking parents why it is usually

a) it might help me to get into the school - no amount of explaining that it won't, seems to get through to them

:o well it will help my child settle when they start nursery full time in September (because they will use am & pm sessions)

c) my child is ready for something more xD


Are we viable? Not really, we spend all our time and energy fundraising and each year is getting harder, parents can't wait to leave so they are not continually asked for money!


We are always full and have a waiting list as long as your arm! We just need to have some huge fee increases to try and help cover costs, as before school nurseries we had low fees because of all the funding.

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We are in an area with a 52 place nursery which is full each September and tbh it does not affect our numbers at all.


I can really sympathise with your situation as I too have to deal with an 'empire building' HT - they are not pretty when they get an idea into their heads.


Just a few points spring to mind about your situation though:


1. Any new provision must involve consultation with the community and your education authority should not be supporting anything that undermines existing provision (under the terms of extended schools).


2. Has he costed it properly? I ask becuase in our area ALL of the nurseries in maintained schools will lose money under SFF and they are not happy.


3. With regard to running any part of it as a PVI setting- if he is having a new school it may well come under the PFI initiative and if so we've just had the problem in our LA of a PVI day nursery, of many years standing on a secondary school site, losing its place at the newly built school becuase as part of the finance agreement they can only provide maintained education and the school don't want to provide EY provision themselves so the nursery will soon close.


Not sure if any of this helps at all but I hope you get it sorted in end. Fighting schools is a real nightmare so please try not to take any of it personally (our fight with our local school nearly drove me to a breakdown in 2008 and I know now that it was not worth the emotional investment I put in to the whole thing - look after yourself).



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