This nursery is expanding as more parents take up free childcare
Educare Nursery, Beverley, is preparing for a major expansion
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 5 Jul 2018
A nursery has embraced the challenge of increased free childcare allowances unveiled by the government last year by embarking on a major expansion project.
Educare, in Mill Lane, Beverley, has quadrupled in size since it opened two decades ago, but the work is not yet done. Parents are now entitled to 30 hours of free childcare for three and four-year-olds – a figure which doubled last year – and nurseries are having to raise their game to meet the demand.
Educare will complete its extension in time for September, when it expects to welcome 110 children at the nursery.
David Whincup, owner of the family business, said the extension is part of an ongoing investment programme designed to support working parents and help them take advantage of free nursery provision offered by the government.
He said: “Offering free places has proved to be a challenge for the nursery sector and some operators have closed because of cost and complications.
“But our approach has been to develop our business and to support parents who want to work and who need childcare."
The government offers 15 hours of childcare free of charge every week for two-year-olds, who then step up to an entitlement of 30 hours for three and four-year-olds with parents who work more than 16 hours each and earn less than £100,000 per annum between them.
Places at Educare are already filling up as families plan ahead for after the summer holidays. Mr Whincup said: “Current capacity is 90 for the nursery and that will increase to 110 once the work is completed.
“We also have places for 40 children in the out-of-school club, but demand is increasing all the time. When we started 20 years ago we only had 24 children.”
Expansion has led to job creation and to ongoing improvement of facilities. Staffing levels have more than doubled to around 35, and Educare has invested in artificial turf to create an all-weather outdoor play area, a sensory room indoors and equipment including toys, books and laptops.
Turnover at the nursery increased from £470,000 in 2014–15 to £514,000 the following year, and then at around £100,000 a year. For 2017–18, it will hit £730,000.
“During 2017, we invested £100,000 in accommodation and equipment and that is continuing,” the owner said. “Our figures for 2018 show a big increase compared with 2016, before the free provision was increased. We are 30 per cent up in numbers of children, which demonstrates our success in balancing the different types of childcare that we offer, fulfilling the needs of as many children, parents and carers as possible and providing a comprehensive service."