Nursery creates cheaper childcare by involving parents


An East London nursery has found an innovative way to provide more cost effective childcare. Grasshoppers in the Park nursery has been following the co-production model used in Sweden, New Zealand, Canada and the USA where parents are heavily involved in the day-to-day running of their children’s childcare.

The Professional staff at the nursery co-operate with the parents in order to create childcare that is cheaper than the private alternative. Fees for the nursery are banded depending on the household income of a family. Also all of the 30 families which use Grasshoppers are expected to support the running of the nursery in various ways, it could be through administration work, fundraising, DIY or helping with the children’s daily walk to the park.

Some parents who are able to participate more even have a regular day in which they become a helper in the classroom. These days are referred to as ‘parent days’ by the nursery and come with a monthly fee discount of £120. This may be much easier for parents to afford than private childcare, especially as the New Economics Foundation (NEF) have found worrying statistics which show that 27 percent of family income is spent on childcare in the UK. In London alone the average cost of childcare is a third higher than that of the rest of England.

However ‘parent days’ and the assistance of parents in the general running of the nursery may have more than just financial benefits as one mother claimed that she really appreciated her time in the classroom once a week as she knew what her child was learning and got to meet their classmates. Grasshoppers parent director Dafyyd had a similar opinion of the nursery, that ‘it is a real community’.

Although there is some disagreement with the co-production model as Claire Schofield, the director of membership, policy and communications at National Day Nurseries Association states that ‘Having too many unqualified parents, however enthusiastic, may dilute this quality of provision for children.’

Despite these objections the inclusion of parents at Grasshoppers and similar nurseries in the UK may be a new alternative to the rising cost of childcare.


January 2017