Primary head teachers' views on nursery funding (FOI)
Primary head teachers' views on nursery funding (FOI)Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by States of Jersey and published on 14 October 2016.
Education Minister Rod Bryans stated in a meeting on 9 September 2016 that the head teachers of the States' primary schools had been consulted upon the possibility of means- testing for the nursery school places prior to the announcement to the public that the Nursery Education Funding (NEF) was to be means-tested for private nurseries only.
Can you please provide documents and responses from the head teachers whom were against the proposal to means test any of their nursery attendees?
All head teachers were asked as to their thoughts on means-testing in States nurseries. The views of head teachers who responded against the proposal to means test States nurseries are outlined as quoted below:
Head teacher 1
"My initial reaction if we charged as in the private settings is that:
I can see that in terms of equability it seems pragmatic to do the same thing in private and States settings and I assure would be a cost saving.
More parents would continue to use private setting as they make contact with them for the younger age range and would just stay with them until its time to transfer to States Reception age range.
If charges are brought in, then we are likely to have a more unbalanced social intake in terms of family context and backgrounds.
I assume funding charges would increase administration behind the scenes and probably would need more staff in the background to cope."
Head teacher 2
"I don’t think it would be appropriate to charge for places at my school. It will be cost effective in the long term to get children [Redacted – Personal Information] in school for [Redacted – Personal Information] as soon as possible so we would not wish to dissuade parents by making a charge."
Head teacher 3
"Ideally all children should have access to free nursery education from the age of two.
There a loads of arguments either way, but in a society that aims for equality of opportunity for all, that would be my goal."
Head teacher 4
"Issues apparent to us:
When charges were put in place for afternoon places, the impact was that our nursery lost just under half of the clientele who would have been with us full time in the afternoons.
Setting charges as mentioned would probably not affect most of our catchment, however it may affect any higher earners and they may wish to pursue more flexible hours in the private sector.
I think my concern is that we may lose more families if they are at the top end or perhaps just inside the figures quoted. This could mean that instead of a balanced catchment we have one that is heavy with English as an Additional Language (EAL) and disadvantaged pupils ie not balanced. This would affect the quality of role modelling and social and communication skills within the nursery, something that is already a challenge.
Giving this is a preliminary look, I would encourage the Education Department to look to make its own decisions as these conditions do not look favourable, although I am sure the private sector will be emphasising the inequality. The fact that we do not have the same hours and flexibility means that the situation is already unequal."
Head teacher 5
"My initial response to this is that what is being offered currently is a States provision, just as States schooling is provided from Reception upwards (or the term a child reaches the age of five).
As a States provision it should be constructed and delivered in line with the rest of States education provision ie it should be free, regardless of whether you have the ability to pay for it. The argument would be that as a tax payer, you are already paying for it to some extent.
If we are asking parents, who can afford to pay to subsidise their child’s provision, then we are extending the fee-paying principles into States schools and creating a hybrid provision within the same school.
A possible argument is that nursery education is not statutory.
However, by asking parents to pay for it you may well disenfranchise those families who, in theory, could afford to pay for it; if a child was held back from nursery provision, for whatever reason, the impact would be mostly felt by the child.
As a school, we have prioritised early intervention and ensured our early years' provision is of the highest quality we can provide. We have seen the benefit of this on the children over the long term and with the engagement of parents. The most difficulties we have are with families who have not accessed nursery provision, either States or private, prior to entering Reception classes.
I would also suggest that this proposal would possibly annoy a large vocal section of the community who then possibly lose faith in the States in providing a provision that they have historically seen as a ‘given’.
An impact of this may be that more parents would move their children to private nursery and fee-paying sectors. In terms of pre-school provision and nursery education, where it is accepted that the department has undertaken a considerable amount of effective work with the private nurseries, the evidence of this impact is yet to be seen in [Redacted – Personal Information] school at this time: as in all schools, pre-school nursery provision in the private sector appears to be variable in terms of the quality of experiences for the children and the quality of assessments provided to the school.
A policy that may encourage parents to move their children towards this provision would therefore need to be questioned."
Head teacher 6
"I would be against charging for nurseries as I think States education should be free for all children regardless of family income. I think if we start charging we will end up changing the dynamics of nursery settings and this would have a detrimental effect on them all."
Please note that the names of the head teachers and the schools that they represent have been withheld in order to protect their privacy, in line with Article 25 of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011."
Article 25 - Personal information
(1) Information is absolutely exempt information if it constitutes personal data of which the applicant is the data subject as defined in the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2005.
(2) Information is absolutely exempt information if:
(a) it constitutes personal data of which the applicant is not the data subject as defined in the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2005; and
(b) its supply to a member of the public would contravene any of the data protection principles, as defined in that Law.