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I’m studying the HND early childhood studies and as my early years project I want to look at the impact of the NEG on pre-school/nursery provision and I would be interested to hear from practitioners past and present about how NEG has affected their provision,


Have day nurseries found it a help to be able to offer free places to parents? does the funding cover the costs?


Have schools started taking children younger to cash in on the grant money? Or opened nursery classes because the funding is now available?


Have playgroups closed because they have been unable to offer free NEG places?


Do early years workers find the conditions of grant too prescriptive? Have the requirements affected the way sessions are run? would they like more freedom of choice about the curriculum and play


Over all I want to get a feel of general opinion about NEG has it helped or do workers feel they are jumping through hoops to qualify for NEG?


I know this seems a lot of questions but I wanted to get the ball rolling….. :o

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Hi Alison -

Crikey. You're brave - this is not one of those subjects that's likely to be received with apathy... :o


I have just a few points, then I'll leave it to others to fill out the experience. ( I'm assuming you've read the great big long thread on NEG in this same forum? If not you can find it here.


In response. I think the NEG is a first brave and well intentioned step towards funding professional 3-5 year old child care and education. Some of the assumptions (ie that 3-5 year old childcare is now paid for) are a bit premature, and can cause distortions, for example where primary schools now compete with private or charitable nurseries for a standard NEG rate by setting up Foundation Stage Units or nursery settings - yet don't have to conform to the same child/staff ratio.


Some general points (partially in response to your questions):


1) Free places are only applicable if you only open 2.5 hours and your session rate is the same as NEG. That is what is funded by the NEG. Over and above that parents have to contribute or staff have to work for nothing...

2) Absolutely schools have started to compete with private/charitable nurseries, pre-schools and playgroups for the NEG. One of the aspects of an unlevel playing field at the moment is that for this age group nurseries have to provide a 1:8 ratio for over-threes, whereas maintained settings can run at 2:20. I believe there are plans to address this imbalance.

3) I don't believe that things have changed at all in our nursery as a result of the requirements of the NEG. Our curriculum planning and the general provision is what we would be offering anyway.

4) It's difficult to tell whether the NEG has made nursery education any more accessible in our part of the country. We live in quite an affluent southern county town, where many families have a very healthy single income! This means effectively that parents choose nurseries, not as a necessity for childcare, but as a means of providing a happy, nurturing setting for their child to play and make friends. Whilst £7.56 per session for most of the weeks in a term reduces the nursery bill significantly, I think most of our 35 families would still be able to fund their child's nursery place without it. I do realise, of course, that things are very different in many other areas in the UK, and I hope you get feedback from practitioners with wholly different experiences. :D

5) Nevertheless, if the nursery grant was increased significantly, then practitioners would have a better chance of being paid an acceptable salary!

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I couldn't have put it better myself Steve!!

Yes pre-schools and playgroups have closed because maintained nurseries are taking children earlier. In Stockport there is now one intake into schools and nurseries to access funding. There is also the threat here, because of a falling birthrate, that they will start to take children as they turn three, in other words earlier than they should. Some groups have closed because they found the expectations of OFSTED inspections and all that goes with nursery grant funding too much. But, we have to ask ourselves whether they would have survived anyway?

I don't feel, in my pre-school, that we have improved our practice because of the nursey grant rather with the introduction of the foundation stage and the stepping stones and goals. But we were already planning to the desirable learning outcomes anyway. So even that has not made a great deal of difference.

I would love it if we didn't have to jump through hoops in order to access funding-with an OFSTED inspection on its way in November I would feel that way!!! :o But some sort of focus is good, it benefits the children because staff are secure in what they are doing. We have a great deal of flexibilty in our pre-school and if we decide the plans are going out of the window on occasions then they do!! :D But that is the joy of working with this age group.

If you need any more information just get in touch. I could put you in touch with some groups in this area who may be happy to help you woth your research.


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I agree with all that has been said. I also work in a fairly affluent area where most parents can afford to pay but the NEG has allowed some parents to actually increase the number of days when money would have been been an issue. Our NEG does not cover the running costs of the group. Whilst researching comparisons with the French system I found a reference from Sir Christopher Ball which suggested that 9-10 hours a week in a pre-school may not be enough so perhaps the NEG had helped in this regard. From a PSE perspective I personally believe that the children get more benefit from coming in for more sessions, certainly they appear to forge and form better relationships with their peers and adults when they attend more sessions.


I feel that whilst our day to day practice has not changed drastically we have had to focus more and more on the dreaded, b..... tiresome paperwork - (the boring part of the job) - more. This I believe has driven out many experienced unqualified and qualified staff (who obviously have more of a life than I do, so perhaps I am only jealous) who will probably never return. Hence the massive recruitment campaign. I would dearly love to see the costs on the marketing campaign. TV, radio slots in prime time, leaflets etc. Not cheap. As Steve says perhaps if they increased the NEG then staff could be paid for the time they put in and not leave for Sainsbury's and the millions spent in the recruitment campaign money could be used for the retention of its current staff, and if all staff were paid a reasonable wage, then they would not need to spend on a recruitment campaign!! and people would see it as a career.


However, as Steve says you will need feed back from a variety of sessions as I don't think we are necessarily the norm.


With regard to the bit on Nurseries attached/opening up in schools - I am not so sure I agree with all that Steve says, however, it may be different here in Surrey. I may email Steve separately on this for clarification.


Sorry went on a bit of a roll there perhaps I should go to bed!!


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  • 2 weeks later...

thank you for your coments they are most appreciated its great to hear your views


For a long time my own group didnt quite meet the criteria to apply for NEG mainly because of the ages of children attending the group most parents were using playgroup as a "stop gap" between toddler group and Nursery attending from the age of 2 until nursery at 3 1/2 and we were ticking along nicely, but then came the recent drop in the age limit to include 3 year olds the local nursery started to offer places to children as soon as they were 3 we suddenly found ourselves questioning our provision do we close or register? we took the plunge and wish we had done it sooner!!!


With registering for NEG we changed to our group to "preschool" rather than "playgroup" and several parents have already expressed a preference to keep their child at our group rather than moving their children to the nursery so NEG seems to have had a positive impact for our group I will have to see in 12 months how I feel


I was surprised to find so much hoop jumping and I am feeling a bit like I am being dragged like a donkey after a carrot "if you want the grant you must do this!"


we have a well structured sessions and provide well balanced activities but didnt have much in the way of documents to prove this so we are finding the planning aspects time consuming we are praying this comes easier with practise!! lucky for us the local EYDCP set up an observation and assessment system for all preschools in the area so with a training day and three freshly qualified staff we have taken the system on board quiet well in line with other groups in the area


there appears to be many benifits to the NEG and but typically not all grants meet all needs. For playgroups and nurseries that havent registered the question is why not? what problems or restrictions are there? are there still some requirements that are too restrictive? or is it simply a question of choice?


thanks again for the feed back and I dont mind if you ramble sometimes we say more in our ramblings :D

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Guest Pollysnursery

Just to get everyone right NEG or Nursery Education Grant finished in March 2003. Since that date providers of the free nursery places have come under the Code of Practice as set out by SureStart 2003-2004, which can into force April 2003. There are a number of major changes to the old NEG system namely it is now up to each individual LEA to set the level of funding each child shall receive in their own area. Copies of the Code of Practice area available online at the SureStart website.

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I have been the supervisor of a pre-school playgroup for the past 25 years. our children learn through play as they always have done. the only difference is that we have to observe and record all information.We focus on personal and social skills.Each child develops at their own pace.We incorporate the early learning goals into every day senerios e.g.notebooks registers in home-corner, number work presented in creativity.Our daily plan is very brief.Children have always learnt in this way.I do feel that the N.E.G. was originally a political ploy which has been continued by successive governments.Practioners,parents and teachers are all under too much pressure to produce an academic child rather than a "rounded child".Yes the grant gives me more cash to play with to provide more sophisticated equipment to use when natural products suffice and can be replaced by going for a walk and collecting.

The benefits are that I can afford to fund more staff and to pay them a proper wage,which they deserve.allin all I still find it a happy place to be and if it wasn't for Ofsted inspections and the need to update my qualification life would be purfect :

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Hi Bubblejack you sound how I feel OFSTED do seem to be as much an interference I know they are doing their Job, the qualification issue seems to of hit preschools hard I am doing this HND because last years inspector told me the PLA diploma wasnt enough and then this years inspector said my qualifications were fine and Im upgrading for no reason... but Im enjoying study so I dont intend to quite just yet.


on the subject of qualifications however a group down the road had to employ an qualified person because all though the leaders had been doing the job for years voluntary that wasnt good enough they had to find funds to get a professional in!.... but Im going off the subject a little here......


Thanks pollynursery for updating me with that information Im looking at the way the NEG has had an impact but I will need to include the facts about how NEG has changed


for the sake of this topic I will continue to refer to it as NEG its easy to type and everyone knows what we mean ok.


how are childminders getting to grips with NEG I have no expereince of childminders networks so it would be interesting to hear how it works.

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I don't have a problem upgrading my qualification it's just knowing which one to go with.Also the Ofsted inspector told me that because I have been on many day courses and seminars she didn't have a problem with my qualification but to ask the E.Y.D.C.for a covering letter which of course they can't give because they say the Ofsted inspector should be doing that.My early years dept. are funding A.P.E.L if I complete by March.The scheme was piloted recently and superwoman did it in 12weeks Apparantly I have to write a 5OO word essay on every procedure I do .I am thinking is it easier to do an N.V Q 3.-or what?

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hi Bubblejack


having just helped two colleagues through the NVQ 3 I would encourage you to try the 500 word essay and A.P.E.L

My colleagues have found the NVQ a nightmare! lots of forms and worksheets to fill in as will as assessments


good luck with you decision! :D

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To Linda,

A.P.E.L is accreditation of prior experience and learning.It is a cache level 3 Certificatwe in work with children.I need to update my Qualifications.The foundation certificate which I did years ago has been downgraded to a level 2.I have to write essays on every procedure I do in supervising 26 children and 5 staff members for the past 25 years!!!!!!

An assessment of my knowledge together with all other courses and seminars will be made.Apparantly it is possible to do in 12 weeks.If I get the time. Chance will be a fine thing .I shall do my best as it is funded up to 31st march 2004.Otherwise cost is £500 pro rata on unfinished work.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Alison/Linda -

Just in case you're confused, I moved your last couple of posts to a new topic. It seemed an interesting new thread and I didn't want it to get buried at the end of this one. It's now called 'Structured play versus free play' and it's in Practice and Provision in the non-setting based discussion group, or you can find it by clicking here. Hope that's ok?

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  • 3 weeks later...

I must say that my research is moving on from one issue to another


the question of play is being debated in another topic and I have notice several others seem to be discussing similar issues regarding the future of playgroups and their position in the community


I initially decided to look at this topic because as a provider over the last 5 years have felt pushed to register but for many reasons was unable in the last 12 months I have found that it was impossible to stay open without registering and I still don’t know if NEG will help to stop us eventually closing. (Sure Start keep opening groups up without checking the existing provision in the area! another debate please don’t comment on it here)


When I filled in the paper work I kept seeing the Phrase "conditions of grant" and felt like we as a group (and all other groups that have registered) were being told "if you want the grant money then you will have to run your sessions our way" I know that alot of the foundation stage is based on good practise but I’m not convinced that the foundation stage is the be all and end all of early years curriculum. I don’t feel that what we provided as a group was a poor quality session before we registered for NEG or that now being registered we have improved, but that is the way we are selling the NEG to parents like being registered means we are better than we were before. and changing our name from Playgroup to Pre-school to increase the local status,


There is alot of paper work involved and again I am not convinced that half of it is necessary but the phrase "conditions of grant" pops up again and on with the paper work

what does paper work prove? It doesn’t demonstrate my true ability to work with children only my ability to write (and at times that can be questionable!) many people can write but are hopeless with children so if their paper work is in place on the day of inspections and they can get a glowing report


I would like to see the paper work shrunk there is no point to the amount I feel there only needs to be -

Children’s development folders

Basic long, mid and short term plans. the foundation stage is already written out in the pink folder why regurgitate it in the planning?

policies to cover the daily sessions


Is there really any need for any other paperwork? it is distracting staff away from the children and adding unnecessary pressure.


As my Sociology lecturer said last week "everything comes with a price, they dont give money away for nothing " I feel I am selling my free choice to the way I run sessions and document it for the price of the NEG


As part of my research I have compiled a questionnaire which is available via the link below




Thank you

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  • 4 weeks later...

Im now in mad panick mode....


big thank you to every one who has completed a questionaire so far Im still working on the replies and its not to late fill one in!

(with the risk of sounding desperate) I could do with a few more replies :o


its been interesting reading the replies which have come from a variety of settings

I have been surprised to find that since the NEG dropped its age limit even toddler groups are finding a drop in numbers!


there has been an impact on preschools since the NEG was introduced and I will hopefully find time to write a summary when my project has been completed


please feel free to continue to comment the research hasnt stopped yet!!!!!

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