Guernsey Press

ESC rejects calls for more free hours of pre-school

CALLS from some local pre-school providers for more free pre-school hours have been rejected by Education, Sport & Culture.


Despite the UK looking to increase its provision, Education president Andrea Dudley-Owen said there were currently no plans for Guernsey to follow suit.

All the island’s nurseries and pre-schools – with the exception of the centres at Blanchelande, Elizabeth College and The Ladies’ College – implement the scheme, which provides 15 free hours of education a week during term time for children in their final year before starting school and which is available to all families with a joint household income of less than £150,000.

Some pre-schools would like to see the scheme expanded in a similar fashion to plans announced by the UK government this week, which will see 30 hours of free childcare offered to all eligible children under five years old in England by September 2025.

The UK expansion aims to help more parents get back to work, while the Guernsey scheme is more focused on education.

Deputy Dudley-Owen said that a question in the committee’s recent Education Law consultation survey about how many free hours should be offered was not an indication that the scheme was under review.

‘I must emphasise that this provision is about education and not childcare – this distinction is important to make,’ she said.

‘The scheme is designed to support children with their development and progression into school. At this time there are no plans to review the scheme.’

Torteval pre-school manager Carla Trump said the scheme had helped many parents who had brought their children to her pre-school.

‘It’s a good thing to have, and it’s going well for us,’ she said.

‘More parents are actually waiting for the number of free hours provided to be increased so that they can go back to work.’

Little Bears pre-school manager Karen Isabelle said that almost all families that attended Little Bears had been able to claim the 15 free hours.