John Glen, MP, met with Cheryl Hadland, managing director of Tops Day Nurseries, on 27 January, to discuss the issues being faced in the Early Years sector.
Tops Day Nurseries Salisbury, based onsite at Salisbury District Hospital, is part of a nursery chain with over 30 nurseries the region.
John was given a tour of the nursery and was shown the different room set ups and resources since his last visit. He even got to meet the chickens.
During his visit, John was introduced to Sam, one of the parents at Tops Salisbury, who also works for the NHS. John listened to Sam’s concerns and got to hear first-hand the type of challenges the local community have to face.
He also met with Sam’s daughter, Genevieve, who attends Tops Salisbury and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was three-years-old.
Genevieve explained to John how her specialised medical equipment works and how the nursery has supported her through this journey and have ensured all staff are trained in knowing what to do.
This visit offered a great opportunity to raise the of the Early Years sector. Cheryl and John were joined by Andrew Dearsley, financial director of Tops Day Nurseries, to discuss a number of issues, including:
● Tops Day Nurseries Queens Award for Enterprise (Sustainable Development).
● The underfunding of early years provision and parents by the government.
● Why underfunding means not being able to pay for and retain top-quality nursery teachers. There is a national shortage of nursery teachers which is reducing availability of places, and damaging the quality of education.
● The importance of apprenticeships from starting to degree level for early years staff.
● Requirements for opening up the workforce for skilled migrants.
● Means testing for funding for early years places and funding to enable all children to attend for 30 hours.
● Local authorities are not applying for relief on business rates for day nurseries despite notice to do this from the Department for Education.
● Air pollution, which is causing asthma and lung disease in small children.
● The nurseries EV and charging points.
● Dairy milk provision for early years children being unsustainable, whereas fruit and vegetables would be more beneficial for children’s health,
● Waste costs of disposable nappies being 4% of the domestic rates bill, plus £1,000 per nursery p.a.
Speaking after the event, Cheryl Hadland said: “Making childcare more affordable for parents and paying early years staff more can only be good for everyone, even short term more parents and grandparents could return to work thus paying more tax/receiving fewer benefits and taking pressure off employers with vacancies.
“Long term, the benefits are vast through the children flourishing with a good start.”
John Glen MP commented: “It was good to meet the dedicated staff and pupils at Tops to discuss early years education and care. It is crucial we give every child the best possible start in life.”
Tops Day Nurseries offers care and education for children from three months to school age, all year with extended opening hours, as well as having an afterschool and holiday club.