First year: a resounding success!

Our first school year has come to an end, and it’s been a resounding success in my view. It hasn’t been easy, by any means. Many sleepless nights, trying to keep up with never ending new regulations, with bills and overheads, a lot to learn… Finding and forming just the right team, whose members share the same passion for the Montessori method as me, to continue making Unity a child-centred environment above all else.

Working with children is incredibly rewarding, as it is demanding. I believe that a true teacher never stops thinking about their pupils, about how to inspire them, how to help them achieve, how to further their knowledge and curiosity, how to instil that desire for learning, for mastering what they have set to learn without giving up.

When the children come in the morning with a big smile, and go home wishing they could stay a bit longer, that make us feel that we are doing a good job. Our school is now a little community, a place where the families that have trusted us their little ones have found a second home:

“Dear Alex

Ravi and I would like to express our gratitude to you and Team at Unity Montessori Nursery for a great job with our daughter !

Throughout Ella’s school terms, I have seen her self-esteem and confidence grow tremendously.

She has learnt so much, you have cultivated a wonderfully warm and caring environment where the children are considerate, love to help and be helped by each other.

Your patience and encouragement with Ella has been amazing, she looks forward to going to nursery each day 😊

Ella starts reception in September and we feel she has been given the right foundation for learning.

Thank you once again for making this positive impact on Ella and us.

Best Wishes,

Susan & Ravi”

That makes me really proud! So, I would like to thank many people for making this first part of our journey a positive one: first of all the children, then parents, teachers, and the Montessori Centre International (for sending my way amazing students to train).

Thank you all for a great year! On to the next!

An exciting year ahead!

This 2017 has been a great year for Unity Montessori. We took the plunge, and decidedly went down the route into the unknown. A new setting, in an area we were not particularly familiar with; a new venture, tonnes of regulations and paperwork to keep us on our toes and occupied most of the time… We must be extremely grateful though. For we found along the way lovely families and amazing children, and extraordinarily committed staff as travelling companions! We couldn’t have asked for more really.

It was a year of growth and progress that, as is the case with Unity’s children, is shaping the year ahead, which looks terribly exciting. We must thank the families that chose to trust their children’s early years’ education to us, and continue to do so. We must be equally thankful towards the new families that shall be joining us in the Spring term of 2018.

To all, and specially the children, may 2018 bring much joy, peace, progress and happiness!

30-hour childcare funding explained

In our Open Days and in communications with parents, we are often asked whether Unity Montessori will accept registrations from families applying to the 30-hour free childcare funding program to be launched in September this year. The following quote is quite pertinent to illustrate our position:

“The average hourly rate that local authorities receive from the Department for Education for the free entitlement is £4.85… The average local authority base rate in 2017-18 –the amount which will actually be passed on to childminders– is £4.28.”

The quote comes from a report produced by the Professional Association of Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), and it refers to childminders, that is, people who look after children at home. The funding from the government quoted above does not even amount to the National Minimum Wage (£7.20 x hour for over 25s).

This creates a distortion and much confusion among parents. Most private nurseries have inescapable overheads (rent, staff, materials, etc.) that make it impossible to operate on government-funding figures. It is very simple really: the shortfall between government funding and real operative costs has got to come from somewhere. It is our understanding that children whose education is government-funded on the 30-hour basis, will not have to pay any top up costs, and nurseries are unable to make additional charges to meet costs. That being the case: who pays the difference?

This is an issue that’s being widely debated. On the one hand politicians are making unrealistic promises, while on the other the media tends to contribute to the confusion, by failing to inform accurately on the figures behind the 15-hour or the 30-hour program. Our view is far from unique: as reported by the BBC, a recent survey done by the Pre-school Learning Alliance (PLA) shows:

  • “74% of the nurseries that responded feel the government has underfunded the scheme”.
  • “38% do not believe their business would be sustainable in 12 months’ time”.

Some nursery operators have even gone on record to claim the “30-hour free scheme is ‘doomed’“. We are just starting our nursery, and while our expectation is that it will grow and become established, we can not afford at present to accept enrolments on the 30-hour free childcare scheme basis.