Admissions and Fees
Available hours of attendance
As a Steiner kindergarten, our day is structured as follows:
Children may attend:
morning only 8.30-12.30
Three year olds start with three mornings per week and can build up their hours in consultation with the Teacher Manager, once they are settled.
Children over five must attend all five mornings. See below.
Fees for children who are over five years old or who are ineligible for the Free Early Education Entitlement (FEEE)
Children over five attend five mornings per week at the discounted price shown in the table.
Fees are payable by standing order over 12 months (September – August).
Financial arrangements for three & four year old children
Thanks to the government’s Free Early Education Entitlement (FEEE, sometimes referred to as the Early Years Grant), we are able to offer free kindergarten time up to a maximum of 15 hours per week spread over at least three days, with no more than six hours in any one day.
Patterns of Attendance
Three-year-olds are expected to start by attending three mornings, 8.30 -12.30, making a weekly total of 12 hours.
Once they are settled in, and in consultation with Elodie Mae, the Teacher Manager, children may add more hours, up to a maximum of 15 for free attendance. Any additional hours will be charged for (see ‘Charges for hours attended over the 15 hour FEEE’ below).
The simplest way of accessing the full 15 hours is to add lunch to each of the three mornings, but other patterns of free attendance are possible. Please contact the administrator Inga Dinham for more details.
You will be asked to complete the required EYR1 form shortly before your child starts. If your child is receiving other free childcare, this will reduce your entitlement with us.
Changes in FEEE Attendance
Any increases in attendance must be discussed first with Elodie Mae, the Teacher Manager. For children covered by the FEEE, attendance details are passed to the Local Authority after what are known as ‘headcount days’. If you want an increase to be included in your FEEE, you need to notify the Administrator (after discussion with Elodie) before the headcount day for that particular term. Extra hours within the 15-hour limit not notified in time will be charged for until the next term, when they can be included in the headcount. Headcount days for the school year are:
While we enjoy the benefits of FEEE supported places, we obviously do not attract the funding for premises and other overheads which the maintained sector enjoys, and until four years ago we charged fees for 1 hour per morning at a higher rate than that paid by the FEEE in order to generate sufficient income to pay all our costs and provide a modest surplus for development plans and as a cushion against cyclical or unforeseen downturns.
Under the terms of the FEEE we are no longer able to do this. However, the Bristol City Council does recognise that without the extra money previously charged by Private, Voluntary and Independent settings such as the Willow Tree, some would cease to exist, to the benefit of no one.
We are therefore able to ask for a voluntary contribution to make up the shortfall. You will therefore be invited to pay a voluntary contribution of £7.30 for every day your child attends, in place of fees. The voluntary contribution will apply only to mornings covered wholly or partly by the FEEE; hours on additional mornings will be paid for at the rate shown below.
We must stress that this is a voluntary contribution and no favour will be shown to those who pay it against those who choose not to.
We must also stress, however, that without this contribution the Willow Tree cannot survive and will be forced either to close or to attempt to survive by not claiming the FEEE and charging everyone the full fee in the hope that enough parents will wish to access Steiner Early Years Education and be able to afford it.
We ask at the beginning of the year for a firm commitment to pay this and for families not to look on this contribution as an option they can decide to pay or not on a month-by-month basis, depending on how finances are. Such a situation would rapidly bring chaos to our financial management and we will therefore still be asking families to set up (or, for existing families, continue) a standing order as a commitment to pay a regular, fixed amount.
You will be sent a termly statement of attendance/ invoice, which will clearly designate your voluntary contribution.
Charges for hours attended over the 15 hour FEEE
If your child has used up all of his/her free allowance, sessions are charged as follows:
Discounts and Bursaries
For families with 2 or more children attending at the same time, there will be a discount of 10% on any fees payable. The voluntary contribution will also be reduced by this amount. The Board of Trustees is currently clarifying policies concerning a system of bursaries/ hardship funds/discounts. We welcome your comments on this policy when it is implemented.
Additional charges apply to cover transport costs for occasional, one-off trips, e.g. to Ashton Court, for those children that go. Please note any breakages to kindergarten property, other than fair wear and tear, will be charged separately.
You are required to give a full term’s notice of your child leaving the Willow Tree Kindergarten. If you do not do so you will be liable for any outstanding fees and we will also ask for the voluntary contribution for that period.