Nursery group helps Thomas Cook staff back on their feet

Nursery group helps Thomas Cook staff back on their feet

A nursery group in Peterborough has shown its support to former Thomas Cook employees by offering them free childcare whilst they attend interviews.

Little Owls Childcare, which is a short distance from Thomas Cook’s headquarters, is offering 2-hour sessions to 10 families who were employed by the collapsed travel firm.

Employees were given the shock news that the tour operator had gone into liquidation on the 23rd September, which resulted in the largest ever peacetime repatriation of British holidaymakers stranded abroad.

Abbi Goodwin, who owns the nursery group, and members of her team are volunteering their time to provide the free childcare.

The sessions can be used for children from age 2 to 11 and must be taken between the hours of 9 am and 4 pm. Each family can use up to 3 sessions at the group’s newly opened Van Hage Garden Centre.

There are also spaces available at the nursery’s sister site in Wessex Close, Peterborough, which has been running for 5 years.

Ms Goodwin said: “When we heard the heart-breaking news about the collapse of Thomas Cook, we spoke as a team about how we could offer our support. Thomas Cook is a big employer in the Peterborough area so it has affected a lot of people, and some of them are our friends.

“Former employees of the travel firm may have to take their children out of their current nursery due to no income or not being able to afford extra days to attend interviews.

“As our new nursery just opened, we still have a few spaces available to families. We are making this offer as a goodwill gesture to help families in the community.”

Ms Goodwin added: “Former Thomas Cook employees can call us on the day should they need to for a free place, although it would be best to know in advance, but sometimes with interviews we know that this is not always the case. We will try to be as flexible as we can.”






Childcare changes from the labour party conference

Childcare changes from the labour party conference

The labour party conference in Brighton today will hear from Ed Balls, who will tell delegates about the party's plans to expand free childcare for three and four-year-olds to 25 hours per week for working parents if they win the next election.

He will tell delegates that he would raise the free childcare limit from 15 hours per week to 25 hours.

"For the first time, parents will be able to work part-time without having to worry about the cost of childcare,"

The 10 extra hours of free childcare would be available to households with three and four-year-old children, where all adults are employed. This means single-parent households where that parent is in work, or couple households with both adults in work. The current 15 hours will still be available to all 3 and 4 year olds.

In addition, Labour has already announced a Primary Childcare Guarantee for families with school-age children.

This will give all parents of primary school children the guarantee of access to childcare through their school from 8am to 6pm, although parents will still have to pay for the childcare through state-funded vouchers or their own money.

But by ensuring schools remain open and willing to look after children from 8am to 6pm, parents can commit to working longer hours.

Stephen twigg said ‘David Cameron scrapped Labour’s programme to support before and after-school clubs, leaving many parents struggling to juggle work and family life.

‘If we want an economy that works for working people, we must support parents trying to balance these pressures.’

The Primary Childcare Guarantee will be written into law if Labour wins the 2015 election.

#OfstedBigconversation  – what happens next?

#OfstedBigconversation – what happens next?

The #OfstedBigConversation happened last weekend and the reports have been collated on the #OfstedBigConversation website. 

There are reports from:


June O'Sullivan states in her blog that she believes Ofsted are ready to listen and has written a letter that any childcare provider can use to engage with them.

June states, "The following is a summary of the key “asks” for Ofsted. These are broad brush changes to the process of inspection. These were the basis of the #OfstedBigConversation, quite separate from the personal stories, grievances and appeals with which many individuals are currently engaged and will continue to do so with support from colleagues, network members and their membership organisations.

Ofsted have indicated a willingness to have a meeting. I would suggest we ask for a meeting in each region with the Ofsted Regional Lead. This way Ofsted gets to meet quite a few people who can provide them with data from each area and support the central request for the outlined changes to the inspection process. If these meetings are held, I think they should be led by the Chairs with members of the network and each region has to provide data and general case studies to highlight the issue and support the reason for change. As ever we need to maintain a calm, rational and professional approach. Negotiation is more likely to work when both people have something to offer. Just imagine we are going to marriage guidance! So in preparation here is a letter to begin the mediation process."

On the #OfstedBigConversation website, editor Catriona Nason defines, 'What happens next?'

"We give Ofsted two weeks from today to respond to our concerns with a real action and also to deliver the outcome of the FOI. If nothing happens by the two weeks deadline, then we draft an open letter and send it to the press via the national press wire which reaches all members of the press in UK. If we are still not satisfied, then radical action comes next…"

Do you agree with the plans? Will you get involved?

An extract from June O'Sullivan's letter. The full copy is available here on her blog.

Dear Ofsted

I am very pleased to hear you might want to meet us. We have been moved to action since the process of inspection has become quite antagonistic and unfriendly.  We want to resolve the situation so we can develop a collaborative and constructive learning community where we can have a mutual respectful relationship that allows us all to share a vision of high quality practice for all children within a spirit of inquiry and improvement.

To achieve this we want to be inspected by knowledgeable inspectors with ...

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