Early morning school care
Due to the huge financial pressure facing Gwynedd Council as a result of cuts in funding received from the government, reducing the amount spent on early morning school childcare was one of the options put forward as part of the Gwynedd Challenge public consultation exercise.
As the proposal was not prioritised by local people as a service that should be protected, the Council has been looking at ways in which it can deliver the required £100,000 saving whilst continuing to offer free primary school breakfasts.
At present, 75 Gwynedd primary schools offer early morning childcare. The times vary slightly, but generally the early morning childcare is from 8am to 8.50am, with the Welsh Government free school breakfast initiative delivered during part of this period.
As part of the work of identifying savings, the Council has carried out a public consultation with over 1,400 responses. The consultation asked members of the Public if they would be eager for the Council to:
- provide free school breakfasts between 8.25am and 8.50am, but to do away with the free school childcare which is provided between 8am and 8.25am;
- providing free school breakfasts between 8.25am and 8.50am and introducing a fee for providing childcare to those who want it between 8am and 8.25am. If this option was chosen, no fee would be charged for the free school breakfast between 8.25am and 8.50am.
Of those who took part in the consultation, 72.8% favoured keeping the current breakfast club times and raising a fee for the childcare element, rather than reducing the clubs hours. Over 60% also felt that parents with three or more children should receive a discount.
The report that will be considered by the Council Cabinet on 3 October recommends raising a fee of 80 pence for the early morning childcare element, with a reduction for families with three or more children who attend the breakfast club.
Councillor Gareth Thomas, Gwynedd Council Cabinet Member for Education said:
“Gwynedd residents are aware that the amount of funding the Council receives to deliver local services has been cut substantially by the government for a number of years. With no sign that this is likely to change in the near future, it is inevitable that the Council considers various ways of bridging the financial gap in some areas if we are to continue to offer services to the public.
“As part of these efforts, introducing savings to the early morning childcare scheme has been identified as one of the options. It should be made clear that this does not mean any changes to the free breakfast element which is offered in schools across the county.
“After looking at how other councils have introduced changes whilst continuing to deliver free school breakfasts, we identified two possible options and asked the Public on their views for the way forward. I would like to thank everyone who took part in the consultation, the comments and feedback received has been of great help to us as we consider the best way forward.
“Having considered the responses in detail, it is clear that the majority of people are eager for us to continue to provide the early morning childcare but to raise a fee for this element; and this is what is being recommended. The comments submitted also identified a desire to offer a reduction to families where a number of children attend the club. We have considered this and intend to offer a reduction to families where three or more pupils attend.”
The mater will be considered by the Council Cabinet on 3 October. Details about the scheme are available here
If a decision is taken to approve the changes, the Council will be contacting families to explain the arrangements that will be introduced from 6 November.