As parents we have a number of important decisions to make. One is who will look after and care for our children , where we cannot do so, due to returning to work for example. This article focuses on Nurseries, but please see our other articles on nannies and child minders if this is applicable.
- Do you fully appreciate the Terms and Conditions you are signing?
- Are there any hidden extras and what about if you need to cancel?
We all focus on finding a nursery based either on: locality, an Ofsted report or word of month referral, maybe fees or the curriculum or all of these elements. We take a tour and meet the teachers and think this is perfect. We then hear we need to book immediately as places are limited and the waiting lists are over 6 months or more. So with all this on our minds how many of us thoroughly scrutinise the terms and conditions before making the decision to sign up?
Do we truly appreciate the fees and what should we be calculating?
It is not enough to look only at the daily or weekly rate as stated:
- Don’t assume the weekly or daily rate is simply how you calculate the overall costs. In that usually you would think 1 day a week costs £50 so four days is £200 and £800 the monthly cost. Often you will be asked to take the rate and times by 52 and then divide by 12 which lifts the costs substantially;
- Do the rates include breakfast/lunch/tea if not add on these costs and understand what is included. Often there is the choice 8am with breakfast or 9am start without etc;
- If your child needs nappies, milk or a uniform add on these costs too;
- Also understand late charge: usually you will find late collection costs and some can be charged in increments of 10 minutes so make sure you factor your travel v late costs when comparing nurseries
- Understand that often you will be required to pay a deposit AND one month’s fees in advance to secure your little one’s place.
Cancellation & Bank/Annual Holidays
You should see two types of cancellation clauses: one to cancel before your child commences the nursery and one if you cancel after they have already started.
Most conditions will run for a school term or a year even where you enrol mid term, but do check. There will be one or two cancellation policies and this will set out :
- The means by which you can cancel (usually in writing to certain person or a department and a receipt maybe required); and
- When you can cancel and what fee will be payable.
Very often if your little one attends nursery on Mondays or Fridays , you will not , get a refund when the nursery closes on these days over a bank holiday so do check this too.
The return of your deposit may not be immediate. Read the terms to understand when this is repaid as it can be up to 2 months.
Collection & Security
We have all heard the stories of kids wandering out of nurseries, but I believe most reputable nurseries have tightened up their security ten fold. However, I have still heard recently of children as young as 3 years leaving the nursery , by mistake, and wandering the gardens waiting for their parents. Clearly this is not acceptable and extremely worrying
The nursery should have at least the majority of these elements in place, but do check:
- A registered list of names of who ONLY may collect your child;
- A Password that must be presented by anyone not on this list;
- Lock, coded door etc on the doors and gates to limit access;
- Structured collection system that is clear and you have tested this;
These are just some of the key considerations and you may have additional terms in the contract or specific concerns you need to consider. Just ensure you fully read and understand the terms because often it can be too late afterwards.
If you would like one of our solicitors to go through them with you or negotiate a termination on your behalf do contact us.
For more information contact us…
0207 426 0382