On-site Early Learning and Childcare provision
An online survey and telephone contact was used in order to collect details on:
- The total number of spaces available (split by under 2s, 2 year olds, 3 year olds and 4 year olds).
- The number of funded spaces available.
- The number of spaces taken up (by general public or staff / students / service users).
- Whether staff / students are given a discount.
- Provision for children with additional support needs.
- Availability of outdoor learning space.
- Opening hours and any flexibility offered.
- Any other flexibility or innovation.
- Successes and barriers.
Information was received from 7 NHS-site nurseries; 2 are in-house provision while the other 5 are privately run.
Information was received from 11 college / university-site nurseries; 3 are in-house provision while 8 are privately run.
Information was provided by the nursery used by staff of one other large public sector employer; this is on-site provision run by a private company.
Information provided by these 19 nurseries is summarised below.
The nurseries surveyed varied greatly in size:
- The largest of the
nurseries offers 108 spaces while the smallest offers 42. The
average number of spaces available at
- All NHS-site nurseries offer spaces for children aged 0-5 years old.
- Spaces for 2 year olds range from 10 spaces to 33 spaces, with an average of 17 spaces.
- Spaces for 3 and 4 year olds range from 16 spaces to 50 spaces, with an average of 32 spaces.
- Funded ELC entitlement places are available at all of the NHS-site nurseries surveyed. Nurseries found it difficult to say how many were being used at any one time because of the way the funding is worked out and the different ELC hours that parents require. However, the majority (over 80%) were being used at any given time.
- All of the NHS-site nurseries reported that they are generally at capacity or near capacity.
- Staff make use of these nurseries; reports from the privately-run nurseries varied from around 50% to 60% of spaces being used by hospital staff. Only two of the NHS-site nurseries reserved any places specifically for hospital staff; one in-house nursery only accepts children of individuals employed by the local NHS Board.
- None of the privately run NHS nurseries reported any use of spaces by patients; spaces not used by staff were used by the general public.
College / university-site nurseries / public sector
- The largest of the college / university / public sector nurseries offered 113 spaces while the smallest offered 35. The average number of spaces available is 62.
- All college / university / public sector nurseries offer spaces for children aged 0-5 years old.
- Spaces for 2 year olds range from 8 spaces to 30 spaces, with an average of 15 spaces.
- Spaces for 3 and 4 year olds range from 16 spaces to 71 spaces, with an average of 30 spaces.
- Funded spaces were available at all of the nurseries that supplied information. Nurseries found it difficult to say how many were being used at any one time because of the way the funding is worked out and the different ELC hours that parents require. The majority of spaces (over 80%) were being used during term time.
- All of the college / university / public sector nurseries reported that they are generally at capacity or near capacity during term time, although the number of spaces used at colleges and universities decreases during holiday periods. The nurseries remain open during holiday periods, although there are vacancies as most students do not use the facilities during holiday periods.
- Students and staff make use of the college / university nurseries. Four of the nurseries worked on a 'first come, first served' basis, with the majority of spaces being taken up by staff or students. Five of these college / university nurseries offer spaces to non-staff and non-students, although there are generally very few spaces available to these types of user.
- Spaces at the one public sector organisation that provided information are all used by staff only.
- Fees for 3 and 4 year olds ranged from £3.51 per hour to £4.71 per hour within the privately-run NHS nurseries.
- Fees for 3 and 4 year olds in the in-house NHS-site nurseries were between £4.20 and £4.25 per hour.
College / university / public sector-site nurseries
- Fees for 3 and 4 year olds ranged from £1.86 per hour to £5.41 per hour within the privately-run nurseries,with some universities and colleges providing subsidies to students.
- Fees for over 3 and 4 year olds in the in-house nurseries were between £2.73 and £5.72 per hour. Again, some universities and colleges offered subsidised rates to students.
Across most nurseries the main opening hours were either 7am or 8am to 6pm. A small number had slightly different hours.
In some of the private nurseries that open at 8am, there was some flexibility. For example, two of the private NHS-site nurseries said they would open an hour or half an hour earlier if required. The additional cost for this provision was £3.50 for the half hour early start and £10 for the hour early start.
Provision for children with additional support needs
All of the nurseries surveyed said that they have, or can make, provision for children with additional support needs, although not all can cater for children with severe disabilities and / or offer one-to-one support. Provision is based on any needs that have been identified in the child's Care Plan and nursery staff work closely with local authority staff and parents to deliver the support that has been identified. A wide range of support is offered across these nurseries and examples included:
- An Additional Support and Learning co-ordinator to make any specific arrangements required.
- Working with third sector organisations to provide child-specific support.
- Additional training for nursery staff.
- Additional support staff when required such as speech and language therapists.
- Specialised play resources.
- Specialised care / living resources.
- Access to additional funding for specialist equipment.
- Accessibility support.
Nurseries reported that, in general, when a child with additional needs applies they will work with the parents and other agencies (local authority or third sector) to ensure that staff and resources are available to suit the child's needs.
Outdoor learning space
All of the nurseries surveyed said that they have access to an outdoor learning space. Nurseries reported that they use their outdoor space regularly as part of their learning. There were many examples given of the types of activity undertaken and these included:
- Outdoor skills such as bushcraft.
- Identifying and caring for nature.
- Litter picking.
Nurseries were asked to say what aspects of being on-site within a college/university or a larger public sector emploters have worked well and what has worked less well.
Most reported that public sector staff and students appreciate the proximity of the nursery to their place of work or study. This means that parents and carers can cut down on travelling time and, therefore, the number of ELC hours they have to purchase.
This additional time also means parents have less of a rush going to and from work and so have more time to spend getting to know nursery staff, talking to them and providing feedback. Nursery staff can also gain more information about each child (their likes and needs for example).
Some also mentioned the benefits to parents of being close by when nurseries have events which parents can, and would like to, attend; for example sports day or plays at Christmas. The shorter distance to travel to the nursery means that parents do not have to take as long off work as they might otherwise have to.
Two nurseries reported that they are able to offer earlier opening hours (either half an hour or an hour) when parents require this to fit in with their working hours. This again proves beneficial as it both allows parents to start work when required and also means a shorter day for both the parents and children (as there is no additional travel time involved).
Some college nurseries offer flexible hours to fit with changing student timetables.
Nurseries were also asked about any barriers they face in the delivery of ELC. Very few issues were raised which were specifically related to being on-site.
The private NHS-site nurseries noted that where maintenance or internet have to be accessed through the hospital, this has caused delays for two of the private nurseries. This was put down to 'bad communication' or 'being passed from pillar to post'.