Simon Hoare MP has visited Tops Day Nurseries: Gillingham Nursery to discuss the crisis faced by Early Years providers.
The North Dorset MP met Cheryl Hadland, managing director of Tops Day Nurseries, which is in its 30th year and is one of the South’s most successful nursery businesses, with a strong ethos in being socially responsible and environmentally sustainable.
In 2017, Cheryl Hadland caught the attention of the national news by banning glitter from all Tops settings, tackling the issue of micro-plastics polluting our oceans and entering our food chain. Since then Tops Day Nurseries have become textbook examples for sustainability in practice, issuing a ban on one-use plastic products and working with their suppliers to switch to sustainable alternatives.
Recently, Tops Day Nurseries were accredited by Surfers Against Sewage wth Plastic-Free Champion status, which encompasses every nursery setting within its family.
Speaking after their meeting, Cheryl Hadland said: ‘I am delighted Simon Hoare MP has pledged his support for childcare providers, families and children in Gillingham.
‘At Tops Day Nurseries we provide top-quality early education to our children, and we’re pleased that the government’s rise in minimum wage means we are able to pay our staff closer to what they deserve for the amazing job they do.
‘However, with the 30 hours free funding for 3 and 4 year olds and the predicted minimal increase in funding, Tops, and the rest of the sector, are in crisis on how to remain sustainable. Tops already charge general extras for parents; come April 2020, we will have to raise our prices further, therefore, burdening parents with having to pay more towards their children’s education and care than any other parents in Europe.
‘We also want a healthier environment and future for our children and grandchildren. This is why I look forward to working with our local MP to campaign for a more sustainable future for childcare providers, parents and children.’
Simon Hoare commented: ‘It was great to meet Cheryl Hadland, members of the team and, more importantly, my youngest constituents, at Tops Day Nurseries in Gillingham and hear about the fantastic work Tops does to give children the best start in life possible. I was particularly impressed at their commitment to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2025.
‘It was concerning to hear of some of the issues which our childcare industry is facing, and I will be making representations in Parliament and to the government to help ensure that the funding deficiency is addressed to ensure that early year providers are able to keep delivering the high quality early education for the children in Gillingham.’
Other topics discussed at the meeting were:
- The underfunding of early years provision and parents by the government, which has not increased again this year despite living wage and pensions both increasing this April.
- One of the results of the underfunding is not being able to pay for and retain the top quality nursery teachers that the children deserve, and which is the best investment this country can make, there is now a national shortage of nursery teachers.
- The top slicing of funding by local authorities and the retention of large contingency budgets which are not being re-invested in the early years.
- The local authorities not applying for relief on business rates for day nurseries despite notice to do this from the Department for Education and other local authorities now doing this. Wales and Scotland already refund business rates. Schools usually have rates refunded.
- The pollution being caused by one-use plastic, especially micro-plastics, which are now in our food chain, in water, and causing infertility and disease in humans, and injuring and killing birds, whales, turtles, dolphins and many more.
- Air pollution, which is causing asthma and lung disease in small children, UNICEF top priority for 2019. A more pro-active stance for electric vehicles and a stop in the production of diesel vehicles and aerosols.
Carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning and agriculture producing climate change crisis – which will impact on the future of our children.
- Dairy milk provision for early years children being unnecessary, whereas fruit and vegetables would be more universally beneficial in terms of the children’s health, to reduce obesity, and to reduce discrimination against those in the population who are intolerant to dairy.
- Waste costs of disposable nappies being 4 percent of the domestic rates bill for everyone plus £1,000 per nursery p.a.
The positive impact that Tops Day Nurseries will have on children and their families lives in Gillingham, good and outstanding teaching regarding healthy and safe environments.
Tops Day Nurseries offers care for children from 3 months – school age, as well as having an afterschool and holiday club for children up to the age of 8. Parents can benefit from extended opening hours of 6am-8pm subject to demand, for, 52 weeks a year including Bank Holidays. This is as well as the number of extra-curricular activities such as Forest School, which extend the experiences children have whilst at nursery.
Tops Day Nurseries can be contacted via 0801 699650 or [email protected]