MP praises free childcare trial at Manor Park nursery

Caroline Dinenage, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Early Years, spe

Caroline Dinenage, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Early Years, speaks to staff and parents during a visit to Sheringham Nursery School in Manor Park. - Credit: Vickie Flores/Archant

An MP toured a nursery school to see how it is helping parents back into work.

These children are just some of the 415 from Newham that are taking part in a new trial with 48 different childcare providers which could potentially save mums and dads £2,500 of childcare costs annually.

Currently all children are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare a week, but in September 2017 this will go up to 30 hours for children who have two working parents, or come from a single parent working household. .

Mrs Dinenage, who has sons aged 14 and nine, said she could relate to struggles that working parents face: “As a mum who worked when my children were little I completely understand the challenges, and the decisions I made about their care were some of the hardest I have made in my life, because you are deciding the care of the people you love most in the world.”

“I know how it feels to feel like you are working to pay for the childcare and I don’t want people to feel that burden, so if the government can give people that little bit of extra income and help people back to work, that’s a really good thing.”

She said she enjoyed her visit to Sheringham Nursery: “It’s fantastic and the people who work here have been so passionate - and there have been some really engaged little people who just love their time here.”

Dr Julian Grenier, who has been headteacher of the nursery school in Manor Park’s Sheringham Avenue for four years, said: £ “It’s a real struggle for parents to afford the childcare they need to go to work, so increasing the number of hours from 15 to 30 can make a substantial difference to income, and can save people from the income trap problem where you are just working to pay for childcare.”

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He also explained that the scheme is designed to “fit the reality of working life now”, with the option to have 15 hours at nursery and 15 hours with its network of childminders if parents work shifts that don’t fit the nursery’s opening times.

Whilst the scheme is being tested in seven other locations across the country, Dr Grenier said that the Newham trial has a specific focus on special educational needs and disabled children – with great success.

“Parents of these children face bigger struggles to find childcare so are more likely to be to be unemployed, and being able to offer the hours has been life-changing fame of these families.”