Positive relationships: All in a day's work - school starting age
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Nurseries need to correct parents' misconceptions about children moving up to school, says Sian Nisbett, nursery director of Dizzy Ducks Day Nursery, which owns three nurseries in Essex
This time of year it is typical for us to lose children to local pre-schools that run just morning or afternoon sessions. Parents still seem to believe that if their child doesn't go to the pre-school attached to their prospective school, then they will be disadvantaged when they apply for a place for them to start reception.
Again this year we are losing children when they become entitled to funding. Most worryingly, we are losing two children to a pre-school graded just 'satisfactory' in all areas of their last inspection, while our most recent inspection saw us receive 'outstanding' in all areas. It defies sense that a parent would remove their child from an outstanding setting to a satisfactory one, so we decided to research why parents did this. We found a number of reasons.
We found that the first reason is financial - they don't want a full day in nursery when they can get their free entitlement at the local pre-school. However, a bigger concern is the fact that they still think that their child's attendance at the local pre-school has a direct bearing on their chance of securing a reception place.
We have decided that from next year, we are going to send out information packs to parents explaining that they are entitled to have their funding with us - an outstanding nursery - and that their decision to do so will not affect their child's school admission. We are also promoting the fact that we cater for several schools in the area, so if the parents are concerned about their child making friends with others who will be in the same class as them, staying with us will not hinder this either.
Promotion ideas include regular updates in our nursery newsletter about free entitlement and keeping parents up to date about all the wonderful things we do in nursery with their children. We need to make them aware that their child's time in nursery is well spent and beneficial to their ongoing early education.
We have decided to spend equal amounts of time marketing ourselves as a day nursery and a pre-school. That way, hopefully, the message will get through to parents that they have a wider range of choices about their child's free entitlement funding place than they previously realised, and we can stop worrying about dwindling pre-school places.