The Telegraph is reporting that Education Minister Liz Truss has called for school nurseries to routinely open for 10 hours each day to offer working parents more “flexibility and choice”…
Liz Truss said that schools make up a third of the childcare market, with 800,000 early years places, but claimed that they are currently too inflexible and if they extended opening hours to 8am-6pm it would revolutionise choice for parents.
Schools are able to charge parents for the additional hours to recover costs but many do not take advantage of this option, said the Department for Education.
Speaking at the Family and Childcare Trust, Ms Truss said: “Schools nurseries are an underappreciated part of childcare.
“Half of London places are provided in schools, and they make up fully one-third of the national childcare market – some 800,000 early years places.
“But the hours are sometimes inflexible. Most only do 9am-3pm. That’s if parents are lucky. Just imagine if they did 8am-6pm. That extra four hours a day – two-thirds more time – it would revolutionise parents’ options. We want to encourage that model.”
…Deborah Lawson, General Secretary of Voice, the union for educational professionals, said that the idea of school nurseries offering longer hours was introduced by the Labour Government under the every child matters scheme.
She questioned why schools would take up the idea now with no new incentives when they were facing changes in funding and increasing pupil numbers which threaten the accommodation currently used by the nurseries…
“Under this announcement staff could end up working longer hours and more weeks in the year and there will be employment implications.”
She said that the Department for Education needed to put “an awful lot more meat on the bones” and make clear how the scheme will work for schools and families, adding: “If they weren’t taking this up when there were new incentives through the Early Years Single Funding Formula, why should they take it up now when there are so many changes to school funding?”
Is this a good idea in principle and, if it is, is it viable for schools to offer a service like this under the current funding model? If your/your child’s school nursery offers 8-6 childcare, please let us know how well it works in the comments or via twitter…