Free nursery education being reviewed in Jersey

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Jersey’s Education Minister has set up a new board to overhaul the way the island’s nurseries are funded.

Senator Tracey Vallois says its linked to the Council of Ministers’ commitment to putting children first.

The Policy Development Board will focus on Early Years and look into a new system for funding nursery places.

Currently, all 3 to 4-year-olds are entitled to 20 hours per week of free nursery education for 38 weeks in term time. This applies to private day nursery, pre-school and school nurseries but has been claimed to be unsustainable.

A previous plan to means-test parents for places was scrapped after public outcry.

Senator Vallois says that she intends to phase out the current Nursery Education Fund during the next academic year (Sept 2019 – Aug 2020) and develop a new approach to nursery funding in 2020.

While details of the new approach are not yet clear, she says parents, carers, nursery providers and industry professionals will be kept informed and will be consulted through the redesign process.

For 2019-2020, as with the wider Government Plan, we will have a transition year, ahead of a broad new approach to Nursery funding from 2020. The current scheme of 20 hours of funded nursery education will remain in place until a new scheme is developed and implemented, which we are hoping will be in 2020. I am committed to keeping parents, carers and providers updated of the plans as we move forward.

To give as much advanced notice, I can confirm that the hourly rate for 2019-2020, paid to nursery providers, will be £5.36 per hour. The figure is a 2% uplift on the current rate (£5.25). While financial challenges are considerable at this time, this shows a commitment to giving our youngest children and their families continued support for the best start in life.

The Policy Development Board will work hard this year to devise new and sustainable plans to fund early years in the future.

– Senator Tracey Vallois, Jersey’s Education Minister

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