How Was 2017 For Playgroup

We had a lot of children stay on or started on 3 year funding which meant we were already only getting £13 per session for these children but we filled up with 30 children per day the by summer term with 6 staff and three 1-1 workers for three children who went onto school with statutory assessments (used to be statements). We were charging £20 per session for 2 year olds. SEN workers were paid by inclusion funding.

We paid our staff at least the National Living Wage as of 2014 and had to start the new pension. Our main focus last year was to try and put in place 30 hours to start in September 2017. It was not easy to work out as the government didn’t give any information out until the summer. We had to get all staff on board with extra hours, work out the hours and ask for extension of the hall hire. We had to have a meeting with the hall committee, then the vicar. Then it had to be passed by the Standing Committee and the PCC. We now have a contract until September 2018 of £600 pw for hall hire. The vicar is leaving which may cause changes. Continue reading

Parents offered compensation after Childcare Service technical issues

Pre-School Learning AllianceHMRC is offering some parents compensation after continuing problems with the government’s Childcare Service website.

The website has experienced several technical issues since its launch earlier this year. The problems have left a number of parents unable to access both tax-free childcare and the 30-hours offer, which are both managed through the website. Some parents are said to have been locked out of tax-free childcare accounts, while some have wrongly been told that they are not eligible for the 30-hours.

Providers have also experienced problems with the site, including a technical glitch that saw childminder data, including home addresses, wrongfully shared online.

Compensation claims
Parents may be eligible for a one-off top-up from the government if they have been:

  • unable to complete an application for tax-free childcare
  • unable to access a childcare account
  • left without a decision on whether they are eligible, without explanation, for more than 20 days.

For more, see Pre-School Learning Alliance.

Claiming Funding for 30 Hours

If a parent is experiencing problems with getting their code they should call HMRC on 0300 123 4097.

The parent will have to check their code every three months and will be reminded by HMRC to do this.

Hounslow Council will run a check every term to see which parents have failed to check their eligibility or have fallen out of eligibility.

When a parent is no longer eligible they fall into the ‘grace period’.

The grace period is used to describe the length of time the parent and childcare provider receives the entitlement until it is withdrawn.

The grace period end date is usually till the end of term that the parent becomes ineligible.

If a parent is sharing the funding between two providers then the parent must make it clear to both with whom the parent is taking the first 15 universal hours with and the extended 15 hours with.

Survey about Childcare

Residents who are a parent or carer of children aged from babies to  14 years and those with youngsters with disabilities up to 18 years, are being asked by Hounslow Council for their views on whether childcare in the borough is meeting their needs.

An online childcare demand survey will run until Friday 29 September 2017. People can submit their views at /Childcare_demand_survey_2017  

Knowing what is going well and what could be improved in childcare services is important to the Council.

The information provided in the survey will support future planning to ensure that there is sufficient high quality childcare available in the places and at the times that parents and carers need it.

Childcare Choices from September 2017

Childcare Choices Logo

Tax-Free Childcare
Tax Free Childcare is an online payment account, topped up by the Government, which parents use solely to pay their childcare costs. For every £8 that families pay in, the Government will make a top-up payment of £2, up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year (or £4,000 for disabled children).

Tax-Free Childcare will be available for children under 12 years old (under 17 years old for disabled children) and can be used to contribute towards nursery, childminder and after-school care. To be eligible, parents must be in work (including self-employment) and each earning at least £120 per week and not more than £100,000 per year. The offer will be introduced to parents with the youngest children first and gradually rolled out so that all parents will be able to apply by the end of 2017.

We have signed up to this so that we can receive payments from Tax-Free Childcare. Parents need to register with the “Keep me updated” tool.

30 hours free childcare
30 hours childcare for three and four year olds will be available in England from September 2017. This doubles the existing 15 hours currently available and could save working families up to £5,000 a year.

Parents will be able to check their eligibility now using the online childcare calculator and, if eligible, submit an online application ahead of September. Once signed up, parents will receive an eligibility code to take to their childcare provider. Childcare providers will then check the code with their local authority. If eligible, parents can book their 30 hours place.

Are you looking for support with childcare costs?

Childcare Choices brings together all the government childcare offers in one place for the first time. The new Childcare Choices website makes it easy to find out what’s on offer.

Use the Childcare Calculator at to see what offers are available to support you and your family.

As well as current schemes, Childcare Choices introduces Tax-Free Childcare and 30 hours – two new offers that are coming in 2017.

To find out more about the new and existing offers, and how they can help you, go to the Childcare Choices website today at


Ofsted Rates Us Outstanding

We’re very pleased to announced that after an inspection on 4th February 2016 we have been rated as outstanding.

The summary says:

  • Children thrive in a warm, welcoming and highly stimulating environment. The setting provides a wide variety of resources and exciting activities for children to explore.
  • The promotion of equality, respect and tolerance is at the heart of the setting’s work and is thoroughly embedded.
  • Staff work in excellent partnerships with parents and actively involve them in their children’s learning. For example, play plans outlining what children are learning are shared with parents. Parents also have the opportunity to have a say in how the setting is run by joining the parents’ committee and completing regular questionnaires.
  • The relationships between children and their key person are excellent. Children form secure attachments and are confident and ready to learn.
  • The manager and staff have a deep understanding of the curriculum and how to apply it to meet the children’s needs. All children make exceptional progress.

Please read the full report.


Funding for Under 2s

Some 2-year-olds in England can get free early education and childcare.

You must be getting one of the following:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (but not Working Tax Credit) and have an annual income not over £16,190
  • the Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Working Tax Credits and earn £16,190 a year or less

Children are also entitled to a place if: Continue reading


Santa's little helper, Joanne

Santa’s little helper, Joanne

Liz helping Father Christmas distribute presents

Liz helping Father Christmas distribute presents

The last day of term sees a normal playgroup for most of the morning after which the children gather together and sing Christmas songs as parents and grandparents pile in.

A visit from Father Christmas follows with a present for each child. Some have never seen Father Christmas before and are a bit apprehensive; others rush to him.

After some more songs there is a feast for all to enjoy before breaking up for the Christmas holidays.