Child playing

Extending free childcare could mean fewer places

The increase in free childcare hours could lead to fewer children being able to attend nursery, say head teachers.

Free childcare for working parents is set to rise to 30 hours a week in 2017. But this means a school nursery taking 50 children split between three-hour morning and afternoon sessions would only be able to take on 25 children if parents opted for the full six-hour day funded by the government.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) heads' union surveyed school nurseries ahead of the changes. More than half said they could not take on more children. Two-thirds said the changes would reduce the number of children they could take on by up to 25-50 per cent.

The majority said schools did not get enough funding to cover the cost of their nursery, and around 80 per cent were subsidising it from their school budgets.

More than half said they needed more funding to provide the service without subsidising it – but half of them said they could increase their capacity if the money was available.

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