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School Nursery Class numbers


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Hello all

I am just trying to find out if other Nursery classes (part of a school setting) are experiencing a drop in numbers this year and if so are there any reasons that this might be the case?

 

We are a 52 part time nursery class and although numbers at Induction were relatively healthy (86) we have had a significant drop out rate - the most that I have know in the 11 years I have worked in the Nursery. We are offering 13 30 hour places (about 16 applied) but as we work in family groups of a ration 1:13 we thought this was the best logistically.

 

There are various reasons (or not at all :angry: ) for the drop outs but for some it is because we do not offer flexibility and extended hours.

It is such a shame as we are an Ofsted recognised outstanding provider with an amazing and exciting outdoor and indoor environment but that does not sit well with parents who want greater flexibility.

 

I would welcome your thoughts and experiences on numbers. We are in Birmingham.

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Hi, I was having a discussion with a friend of mine who it sounds like is in a similar position to you. Her nursery class starts at age 3 (it's a school nursery) and she has low numbers this year. We thought it might be due to the fact that in her area quite a lot of families are eligible for 2 year old funding, so are taking this in other settings and therefore starting nursery sooner elsewhere - many wouldn't be eligible for the 30 hour funding at 3 anyway. She felt they would be better taking some 2s... Just a thought! x

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I think schools will have to start to address a different model for providing nursery - the idea of a fixed morning only for 15hrs etc is becoming less attractive in a climate where parents are being promised everything by govt.

 

Some academy schools are anecdotally starting to change their admissions policy to allow nursery children priority which mainstream cannot do currently. There was some talk previously of being able to do this with a view to schools who take funded twos being able to minimise transitions for those vunerable children - although this has disappeared again.

 

Addressing wraparound and flexibility may be the way schools will have to go. The irony is that schools will always be available in areas of lower income and deprivation etc, which childcare businesses may well avoid. This is often the case in maintained nursery schools, who are typically outstanding and providing for the most disadvantaged (see HMCI report a couple of years ago). When the funding for nursery schools ceases to make them viable will other businesses be there to pick up the more disadvantaged who won't be paying top ups etc. in the way schools can do.

 

There is room for a mixed economy - but schools have a place to play and if school nursery classes and MNS start to go then ultimately I think it will be the least well off in society who will lose out.

 

Cx

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We are a nursery school in Birmingham and we have also experienced a change in how parents want to access their provision. About 24 months ago we started admitting 2 year olds following a similar position to yourself and this has had a large impact on our numbers as children stay with us for their 3 year old provision before starting reception. We are currently in a birth rate drop in Birmingham which from Children's Centre information will pick up again next year and continue to rise on current trends. We have also started offering 2.5 days and allowing parents to top up/ add staying for lunch following a morning or prior to an afternoon session. We are in an area of high deprivation which means that we have minimal numbers of parents eligible for the 30 hour offer and limited numbers of parents able to pay to top up but these measures are currently keeping us afloat.

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Hello all

thank you for taking the time to respond. It has helped. I had not thought about the 2 year olds having an impact (I don't know about how the funding and criteria is for them - will have to google it). We have explored before and after school club, call it what you will. We even went down a long road of survey, financing etc to provide a purpose built mobile on site but we could not get it. As for breakfast club... parents requested it and then numbers began to drop so we had to abandon that too!

Dmccallin81 - do you have a separate room for your 2 year olds? We are thinking of taking some rising threes in January but need to put a bit more thought into this (and quickly too!).

 

Catma I quite agree with you about the value that school nurseries and Nursery schools play and you are absolutely right about having to rethink a different kind of model if this was to continue. Low numbers in Nursery impact on the amount we send into Reception (and then not all who are with us at the moment will come to our school.) Sending few into Reception means that there are challenges that they too will face (but then many schools without a Nursery also face these challenges and cope.)

Changes are a coming... we've just got to change too!

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We do have a separate two year old/rising three room for children to be dropped to and for a dedicated hour within the session but for the remaining two hours children in our 3-4 year old and 2-3 provision free flow across the rooms allowing broader provision for all children while maintaining some focussed time for both age groups.

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