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Free childcare scheme ‘could backfire’ in schools


By Hannah Richardson BBC News education and social affairs reporter

Plans to extend free childcare places in England’s schools could backfire and leave fewer children attending school nurseries, head teachers say.

Free childcare for working parents is set to rise to 30 hours a week in 2017.

A National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) heads’ union survey of schools with nurseries suggests most would have to cut places to accommodate children moving from a half to a full day.

The government says it is working with the sector to deliver the promise.

It has been meeting with NAHT leaders to address concerns raised by the union.

 The NAHT surveyed 790 of its members running schools with nurseries on site in July.

Cross subsidies

The majority of those surveyed said schools did not receive enough funding to cover the cost of their nursery provision and some 80% were subsidising it from their school budgets.

The reason schools did this, the NAHT said, was because good quality early years education was a valid investment for the rest of their education.

The hourly fee schools were getting from local council grants to provide such childcare was less than £5 an hour per child for most schools, it said.

A little more than half (53%) said they needed £3 more per hour per child to be able to fund the service without subsidising it.