Lifestyle, Parenting

Childcare: What’s The Real Cost?

Getting your child into childcare or a nursery can be a headache at the best of times, before you even start thinking about the cost and quality of care. The nursery that my children attend currently has a two year waiting list! They regularly have parents with babies aged only a few days being asked to be added to that list, and some very organised mums and dads even choose to add their precious ones to the waiting list before they are born! All hail those of you out there; I hadn’t even worked out where we going to live during my pregnancies, let alone which nurseries the kids would go to!


So, How Much Will It Cost?

A full time place in an Ofsted rated ‘Outstanding’ nursery can set you back anything from £950 per month to £1700 per month. These figures are based on one child attending nursery 5 full days a week before they hit that magical age of 3 when the 3-year childcare funding kicks in. The cost varies between settings and the area of the country you live in. The higher end of the scale (based on a nursery in Surrey) equates to £21,300.00 a year. For many of us, that’s more than an annual salary!

You might, however, not want to return to work full time, or you could choose not to simply to keep nursery costs down (or because you just can’t afford to!) For 3 full days a week in an ‘Outstanding’ nursery you could expect to pay anything between £650 and £1000, again depending on where you live.

Childcare What's The Real Cost?

Will Childcare Always Bankrupt Us?!

The good news is that childcare does get cheaper as they get older. Most nurseries have lower rates for children aged 2 and above, and all children benefit from 15 free hours of childcare per week when they turn 3 (increasing to 30 hours in September if you meet working criteria.)

Of course, you could save money by opting for an Ofsted rated ‘Good’ setting. This could lower the monthly full time cost by between £120 and £400, and for part time this could go as low as between £575 and £800. This sounds great but what price do we pay for lowering our standards?

A Shit Nursery To Save Money? Not For Me…

Naturally, we all want the very best for our children, so surely it’s worth the extra fees to ensure that they are being cared for in the best possible setting… Or is it? In my opinion, it is always worth investing some time reading the Ofsted reports of prospective nurseries. By law, these are readily available online. They are usually not very long reports or difficult to read and interpret.

I recently read an Ofsted report for a nursery that stated that it used effective systems to evaluate the quality of its own care, and actively sought and respected the views of staff, parents, and children alike. Their management was said to analyse children’s achievements “meticulously” to identify areas which needed development. The staff were said to have a good understanding of how children learn, and were good role models for the children. Children were seen to be developing well, and were actively learning things like manners, sharing and turn-taking. More than this, it was reported that the children were happy, confident and secure within the setting. What more could you want?!

This nursery was rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted. It failed to reach the dizzy heights of ‘Outstanding’ because some staff missed an opportunity to encourage independence, and it was noted that activities were not “constantly” organised. Now, constantly seems like quite a lot of activities to me, especially when you are trying to encourage independence!

Childcare What's The Real Cost?

I’m Not Perfect… But I’m Good Enough!

So I suppose the moral of the story is that sometimes ‘Good’ is good enough. I am not an outstanding parent, and neither (probably) are you! But my guess is that you are a very good parent, and that this very good nursery would be more than perfect for your child.

For us as parents, our good days are the ones when we are mumming the shit out of life! They’re the days when we are great role models, when we behave respectfully and receive that respect back. The days when the washing gets done, and the kids play nicely. Hey, they might even learn something on the good days! Our good days are good enough; in fact, they’re more than good enough. So maybe that ‘Good’ nursery is more than good enough too. And maybe, just maybe, it will ease the drawstrings on our purses as well!

I’d love to hear opinions on this one! Drop me a comment in the box below.


6 thoughts on “Childcare: What’s The Real Cost?

  1. Personally I’m a firm believer in visiting the nursery / school and seeing how it feels. I think that Ofsted reports are great as a guideline, but in the same way that I don’t think that traditional exams necessarily showcase every individual’s talents, I’m not sure that one report should be the sole measure used to evaluate a childcare provider. I adore the nursery that my two go to, and it doesn’t have an outstanding report. Neither does the school that my eldest is due to start in September, but of the schools we visited I feel confident that this is the right place for her. Interesting post! Those costs are eye watering aren’t they? Gulp! Thanks for linking with #DreamTeam x

  2. Great post! We send our daughter to a childminder and she may not come up as outstanding on ofsted or have amaxzing facilities that a nursery has but as soon as i met her and we went to her house i felt comfortable and confident that Amelia would be happy there. Sometimes it’s more about the feel of a place rather than the level of OFSTED reports it has achieved. I know people who have their kids in an outstanding nursery and they have complained loads! 🙂

    We are now almost 9 months into our childcare and my little girl loves it at the childminder. It’s defiantly a personal choice. 🙂 #dreamteam

    1. And that’s exactly it isn’t it?! My Amelia was with a childminder for a while too when I worked full time and I felt the same – as soon as I met her I knew she was right! I’m so happy for you and Amelia, finding the right childcare that works for everyone is so important, and means so much less stress for all!! Thanks for your lovely comment xx

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