Opinion: In my View - Free us from underfunding

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Private providers are not able to survive on nursery education funding alone, and with plans to introduce delivery of 15 free hours over three days, sustainability is simply not an option.

Providers are expected to jump through hoops in order to meet codes of practice and standards - and rightly so. We are also encouraged to educate ourselves to the highest possible standard and be incredibly flexible with regards to change, while attempting to balance this with the practicalities of running a business.

Most provide a holistic child-centred environment where children are able to learn through a play-based curriculum and become happy, successful learners. We work in partnership with parents and the wider community to ensure a well-balanced, broad-based inclusive curriculum.

But the 'hands tied' approach to not being able to charge what we need for quality provision is short-sighted and damaging. Sadly, the people who will be damaged the most are the children.

My provision this term will be claiming for 657 funded hours (at £3.56 per hour), making a total of £28,067.04 claimed. In reality my outgoings are £51,739.27. The figures do not add up.

So what incentive is there for providers to keep going? Do the Government hope to play on our commitment and dedication to early years? If this is the case, then you offend my sensibilities!

There should be a contribution to childcare costs and parents should have support. However, charging as little as £10 per week over and above funding would mean my provision is sustainable and could continue to provide a quality service. Ten pounds a week equates to a couple of bottles of wine or pair of cinema tickets. It is not too much to ask.

The Government is crippling the diverse and wonderful pre-school opportunities for children with the current structure of free education entitlement, as well as removing choice for parents.

Taken from an open letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, by Sarah Morton, principal of Spirit Daycare and Discovery Montessori School in Surrey. To request an unedited copy, e-mail principal@spiritdaycare.co.uk.

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