Anxiety over £950 nursery top-up fees

A local council is looking into concerns raised by parents over the fees being charged by a Jewish nursery.

Barnet Council confirmed it had been contacted by two sets of parents about Rosh Pinah Nursery in Edgware, which charges £950 a term and requires a £500 deposit within two weeks of offering a place.

Pippa Singer, whose son James has been offered a place at the nursery in September, wrote to its chairman of governors on Monday: “We are very concerned, both by the level of fees being charged, and the timescale that payment is due.”

According to government regulations, parents are entitled to 12.5 hours of free nursery education a week for three- and four-year-olds. But nurseries are permitted to request fees for additional hours.

Mrs Singer told the chairman of the governors, Roy Freedman: “Other nurseries offer parents the option of just doing the 2.5 hours a day that the government funds, and if parents want to top-up to stay on for longer, they can.

“Not only does this option not seem available, but the level of charging seems excessive. We are concerned that we cannot produce the £500 by Friday [today] to secure the place and if we do, we will have to put it on the credit card and worry about it after.”

Mr Freedman explained that every child who attends Rosh Pinah receives the free entitlement of 12.5 hours a week. “The top- up fee of £950 per term covers the additional provision which the school offers and which the school believes is in the best educational interests of the children,” he said.

“Rosh Pinah has never declined to offer the free entitlement only, neither has the school ever received such a request.”

The nursery’s admissions committee, he said, “cannot possibly know which children are going to request only the free entitlement at the stage that the offers are made. Such requests can naturally only be received from parents of children to whom places have already been offered”.

Barnet was “fully aware” of Rosh Pinah’s admission criteria and procedures, he said. The information was published and “available to all applicants. Nothing contained in these criteria should therefore come as a surprise to parents after they have been awarded a place for their child in the nursery.”

The nursery this year received 207 applications for 60 places.

    Last updated: 9:11am, June 24 2009