Tag Archive for: 15 hours free childcare

Support for Children with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (‘SEND’) in Early Years Settings

Today, we’re looking at what help is available for children under five with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (‘SEND’, also sometimes referred to as ‘SEN and disabilities’). Good support for such children, particularly in their formative years, is of critical importance to their longer-term progress, well-being and success. Appropriate support, provided in a timely and tailored manner, can have a real, positive impact on outcomes for children’s lives.

An Environment of Inclusivity

It is important to foster an inclusive environment for children with SEND, including at childcare/early years settings like Little Cedars Nursery. Whatever their differences, we know it’s crucial for all children to feel safe, comfortable, valued, and loved, as well as being free to express themselves. It’s also important that all children, irrespective of ability/disability, are able to make friends and socialise freely. This is therefore nurtured at childcare settings like Little Cedars.

Changes can also be made to childcare environments like ours, where appropriate, to improve accessibility for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Identifying SEND

Identification of a special educational need or disability is the first step to properly support affected children.Identification of a special educational need or disability is, of course, the first step in being able to properly support a child with SEND. For this reason, good early years providers like Little Cedars Nursery will, as a matter of course, watch out for signs of things that might be challenging for children. As prescribed by the EYFS approach to early years learning and development, such assessment will occur as part of the day-to-day activities at such nurseries, preschools and early years settings, as well as during more formal assessments like the Progress Check at 2. Childcare practitioners, the Key Person allocated to each individual child, and the setting’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) will usually all be involved in all assessment stages.

Parents will be alerted to any suspicions and indeed should alert childcare settings if they have a SEND-related concern regarding their child. After all, parents may well have more insight, as they know their child best.

External professionals including health visitors, paediatricians and professional specialists and therapists can also be brought in to help with assessments if deemed appropriate. Only once a possible special need or disability has been identified and evaluated is it possible to look at appropriate support options for a child.

Developing a Tailored Support Plan

External specialists/professionals may be involved in the support plan for children with SEND.Support plans for suspected or confirmed special needs or disabilities are then discussed and custom-designed for the child. Such plans will be agreed between the child’s parents/caregivers, staff at the early years setting itself and any external specialists or professionals involved in the child’s care. Such programmes will be customised to suit the individual child’s specific needs and may include tailored activities, strategies, resources and so on. Formalisation of the support programme will allow all parties to pull in the same direction, working cooperatively for the benefit of the child.

“Assess, Plan, Do and Review.”

Progress and the effectiveness of support plans will be evaluated continuously. Should the support plan require fine-tuning along the way, then adjustments will be made to suit the ongoing needs of the child. There is also possible recourse to request an Education, Health & Care (EHC) assessment of the child’s needs from the local authority if deemed appropriate and sanctioned by parents. Should one occur, then a new support plan may be devised.

Similarly, if the help of external experts is required, for example help from a speech and language therapist, this can be arranged as part of the support package for the child.

With the right support, “the great majority of children and young people with SEN or disabilities … can find work, be supported to live independently, and participate in their community.” (DfE)

Special Funding & the Area SENCo

Special funding might be available to fund things like additional one-to-one support, special resources, or activities.In parallel to the SENCo at the child’s early years setting, local authorities also have their own Special Educational Needs Coordinator, known as the Area SENCo. They will also be integral to a child’s SEND support plan, helping with coordination between the local authority, the various parties involved in supporting the child, and in relation to any special funding requirements. If approved, special funding might be required, for example, for an additional member of staff tasked with giving one-to-one support to the child, or to fund extra learning resources and activities for them.

Area SENCos also continue to coordinate support for children with SEND through the transition from early years settings to school.

The ‘Local Offer’ Information Portal

Every local authority publishes information that informs families about the support available in their area for children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities. This is encapsulated in what’s known as The Local Offer. A Local Offer example for Streatham may help to illustrate the kind of help and resources available. Little Cedars Nursery is in the part of Streatham that falls within the London Borough of Wandsworth, and their Local Offer for SEND can be found here.

Funded Childcare for Under-5s with SEND

Parents may be wondering whether any free childcare is available for children with SEND. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the options:

  • There are several childcare funding options for children with SEND.All 3- and 4-year-olds living in England are eligible for a minimum of 570 hours of free childcare per annum, irrespective of whether or not they have SEND. This is known as Universal Free Childcare or their Free entitlement and is typically taken as 15 hours of childcare each week over 38 weeks of the year, but how it is taken can differ. Learn more here.
  • In some circumstances, the above entitlement for 3- and 4-year-olds may be extended to 1140 hours per annum, equivalent to 30 hours of free childcare over 38 weeks of the year. This is known as Extended Free Childcare or the 30 hours scheme but, unlike with Universal Free Childcare, is means-tested. Many more eligibility criteria also apply (learn more here).
  • 2-year-olds with SEND may also be eligible for free childcare hours if they fall within one or more specific categories (learn more here). These include:
    – Receiving Disability Living Allowance (‘DLA’);
    – Being subject to an Education, Health & Care Plan (‘EHC’);
    – Having received a referral via their local authority’s Portage Service.
  • Parents of disabled children may be able to claim for free childcare support valued up to £4,000 per year through the Government’s Tax-Free Childcare Scheme. Learn more here.

More information about various Government-funded childcare schemes is available in our rough guide to childcare funding here.

Nursery Places at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars is a Nursery & Preschool in Streatham, London SW16

Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

We support all Government-funded childcare schemes for eligible families at Little Cedars. We also endorse all the above support measures aimed at helping children with special educational needs and disabilities. We are officially a good nursery, as benchmarked by Ofsted.  Our nursery and preschool are located in Streatham, London SW16 although we are also conveniently close by for families in Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton.

If you would like to apply for a nursery place for your child, ask any questions or book a tour with your child, please select an option below:

The Progress Check at 2 – it's purpose, who & what are involved, etc.

At Little Cedars Nursery, we understand the importance of monitoring growth in children’s learning and development and ensuring they are reaching their full potential. With that in mind, today’s article is a detailed guide to the Progress Check at Two. An essential milestone in children’s early development, the assessment leads to profound benefits for young children. So, today, we will walk you through everything you need to know about the Progress Check at Two, its purpose, what to expect, and how parents* can actively participate.

The Purpose of the Progress Check at 2

The ‘Progress Check at 2’ is a comprehensive evaluation conducted for children who have reached the age of two. This assessment, completed prior to their third birthday, examines their progress across various essential areas of their learning and development journey. Its primary aim is to identify any areas where additional support or intervention1 may be needed. By closely monitoring children’s progress, early years providers can tailor their approach to meet each child’s unique needs and thereby ensure children’s optimum growth and success.

1. In cases where specific educational needs or disabilities are identified, a collaboration between the childcare provider’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) and relevant health professionals or specialists will be built into the support plan that’s tailored to the child’s requirements.

The Significance of the Age of 2

The age of two is a pivotal period in a child’s development. It is during this stage that a child’s progress in learning, speech, language, cognitive abilities, physical growth, and social-emotional development becomes increasingly clear. Ensuring that each area is developing optimally at this early stage will have long-term benefits for the child, so it is important to confirm that everything is on track. A solid foundation for the child’s long-term growth and success can then be built.

Key Areas of Focus

The Progress Check at 2 concentrates on children’s progress primarily in the three ‘prime’ areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework. These are:

  1. Communication and Language,
  2. Physical Development, and
  3. Personal, Social and Emotional Development.

However, those involved in conducting the assessment often also evaluate children’s progress in the remaining four ‘specific’ areas of the EYFS curriculum. These are Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World, and lastly Expressive Arts and Design.

Preparing Children for School

Initiating the Progress Check at 2 and providing early support increases the likelihood of children overcoming developmental challenges before starting school. This proactive approach prevents setbacks during this crucial period in children’s lives. Without such intervention, children may face difficulties at the beginning of their educational journey, potentially hindering their overall growth and learning long into the future. Without a doubt, the Progress Check at 2 is vital in facilitating a smooth transition into school and fostering children’s long-term success.

Who is Involved?

The Progress Check at 2 is a collaborative effort between a child’s early years childcare provider, their parents and, if applicable, their health visitor and any external professionals that may be involved in the child’s early years learning and development.

The Role of Parents in the Progress Check at 2

The importance of parental involvement during a child’s early years education cannot be overstated. Such involvement is particularly invaluable to early years educators and childcare providers during the progress check. Ultimately, it is also crucially important to the child being assessed. Parents are therefore encouraged to share any observations or concerns that they may have regarding their child’s development. Their insights, combined with those of the child’s childcare/early years provider and those of any external professionals (if applicable), create a holistic picture of a child’s growth and progress. It thereby enables providers like Little Cedars Nursery to organise tailored support to address children’s specific needs most effectively.

The Report

Following the assessment, parents will receive a written summary of the report. This outlines their child’s achievements, strengths, and any areas for further development. The report serves as a valuable tool that allows all involved parties to track a child’s progress over time and to devise a plan of action to support their individual growth trajectory. It also serves as a basis for ongoing communication and collaboration between the childcare/early years provider and the child’s family.

To Sum Up

The Progress Check at 2 is a significant milestone in every child’s early development journey. At Little Cedars Nursery, we are committed to fostering a supportive and engaging environment that nurtures each child’s unique abilities. By actively participating in the progress check process, parents are ensuring that their child receives the necessary support and resources to absolutely flourish. Together, we can help children reach their full potential and prepare them for a successful educational journey ahead.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars Nursery is a ‘Good Provider’ of Childcare & Early Years Education in Streatham

Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

Little Cedars is a good nursery — and that’s official, says OfstedOur nursery and preschool are in Streatham, SW16 but are also conveniently close to Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton. We may therefore suit families living or working in those locations.

At Little Cedars Nursery free childcare is available as all Government childcare funding schemes are supported for eligible families (follow the bold links for more information).

Please choose a button below if you’d like to apply for a nursery place for your child, ask a question or arrange a guided tour to see how well your child would fit in. We’ll be delighted to help!

A Clarification:

The ‘Progress Check at 2’  is Different to the ‘2-Year Review’ — but they’re Intertwined

As well as the ‘Progress Check at 2’, there is another, related assessment called the ‘2-Year Review’. Although both occur around the same age, they each serve distinct purposes. In contrast to the Progress Check at 2, the 2-Year Review is more about the child’s health and well-being. It is undertaken by healthcare professionals such as health visitors and assesses overall health. This includes things like immunisation status, physical and mental development, well-being, and parental support. Although separate, the two reviews share overlapping areas and, for that reason, are often conducted simultaneously. The result is thereby a more comprehensive understanding of the child’s development at this key age.

* To avoid repetition in this article and for the sake of brevity, the term ‘parents’ is used as a placeholder for parents, guardians or caregivers.

Free Butterfly-Spotting Activity Poster for Children.

See high resolution detail when you zoom in on the butterfly images in the poster. Following on from our bird-spotting article and poster published in March, we now bring you a matching butterfly-spotting activity. Butterflies are both beautiful and adorable. As such, children will love them and will enjoy spending time around them during this activity. Like before, it comes with another free poster for children to print out, display, learn from and enjoy. Butterfly spotting is another wonderful way to get children outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and benefit from everything that nature has to offer.

This time around, we showcase 36 beautiful butterflies that can be seen in many parts of Britain. Indeed, that was one of the main criteria we used when deciding which butterflies to include. Having said that, some of the butterflies will be more common than others and we really don’t expect every child to spot all 36 butterflies that are featured — although it’s possible if they’re patient and adventurous! It’s a lovely challenge for children, though, and spotting such beautiful creatures may begin to instil in them an appreciation of nature and all the amazing creatures within it. That would be a good thing because nature is more under threat than ever and children of today will eventually become custodians of Britain’s phenomenal natural environment. Nature will also benefit children in many profound ways, including spiritually and even academically.

Free Butterfly Poster

Identify 36 different British Butterflies using our free A3 reference poster — it's educational and fun for children.

Download Instructions

View the poster in the greatest detail onscreen by clicking the big image above or, with some web browsers, you may need to first download it by right-clicking and then saving. Then view it in Acrobat Reader, which is available free. From Acrobat, print out the poster at full size (A3) or choose ‘reduce to fit’ if your printer is only A4. We recommend using high-quality printing paper and the highest settings for the best results, glorious colour, and the finest detail.

Attract butterflies by putting out fruit wedges — they love the sugary taste of ripe oranges, grapefruits, nectarines, bananas, strawberries and apples!

Shown on the poster are some of the more commonly-known butterflies like Large Whites, Peacocks, Red Admirals and Small Tortoiseshells. However, children may also spot some lesser-known butterflies like Purple Emperors, Orange Tips, Green Hairstreaks and Adonis Blues. Butterflies have wonderful names, don’t they? Parents can help younger children with names, as we don’t expect them to be able to read them all if they’re very young. The young will also need supervising outdoors, of course, for their safety.

Look but Don’t Touch the Butterflies

For the poster, we’ve chosen the butterflies most likely to be found widely in the UK. This is a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly.We must also add that children should be encouraged to ‘look but don’t touch’ as butterflies are very delicate creatures. Children should not try to touch or catch them — they are best left in peace as every one of them is a little individual that simply wants to go about his or her day. They’re wonderful to watch, though, and our free poster should help children and adults identify many of the different types. Perhaps see how many different species can be spotted over the course of a year. Take photos too, and compare them with friends! Some butterflies visit gardens, floral window boxes and parks while others may only be found in wilder locations in the countryside. This activity is therefore a great excuse for families to get out and explore The Great Outdoors! Recording the date and location of each butterfly spotted will also help families work out where the best butterfly-spotting locations are for next time.

Fun fact: Butterflies have taste buds on their feet!

Butterflies are In Decline

Sadly, many butterflies are in decline, with studies reporting a 40% drop in populations in recent decades. That’s really sad, so it’s imperative that they and their precious habitats are not unduly disturbed. Therefore, please do take care. If anything, habitats need to be restored and greater protections put in place. Raising awareness of the plight of butterflies and other creatures in decline, like bees and birds, is therefore something that’s also important for children to be aware of. After all, as they grow older, they will eventually take over stewardship of the natural world and can help to steer decision-makers to improve things if they’ve developed a deep-seated interest in nature by the time they become adults.

The Big Butterfly Count

The Big Butterfly CountWith that in mind, why not take this activity a step further and get involved in the UK’s annual Big Butterfly Count? For 2024, it takes place between Friday the 12th of July and Sunday the 4th of August, which is when most butterflies are at their adult stage. All it takes is 15 minutes and children will love being little ‘citizen scientists’! The activity can be done in gardens, parks, school grounds or out in the countryside. Taking part will give children a real opportunity to help with butterfly conservation.

Learn more about the Big Butterfly Count and to take part here. Our guide includes links to a free smartphone app that will help you/your children during the butterfly counting activity.

A Fun, Educational & Worthwhile Activity for Children

We hope families and children enjoy their butterfly-spotting activities and use our free poster to learn the names. In this way, they can get to recognise some of the different types of butterflies when they spot them when out and about. It’s a fascinating activity and butterflies are both amazingly beautiful and incredibly endearing. As pollinators, they’re extremely important too and represent a barometer for the health of the natural world. Learning more about butterflies and nature is therefore incredibly important and beneficial for children — and ultimately for the planet. So, we encourage children to dive into this activity at the earliest opportunity. Have fun, be gentle and stay safe.

Little Cedars Nursery & Preschool, Streatham, London SW16

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a high-quality nursery/preschool in Streatham SW16, providing childcare excellence for babies, toddlers and preschoolers under 5 years of age. If you’re looking for a good nursery or preschool for your child, arrange a free tour with us and we’ll show you and your little one around. You’ll be able to get answers to any questions you have and also you’ll see how well your child fits in. Ours is a lovely, welcoming, home-from-home environment where the very best is brought out of every child under our care, so your child will be in good hands. As well as looking after them while parents work or recharge, every child receives an excellent early years education and is prepared for a great start once they leave us to start school. Please choose a button to contact us today, arrange a guided tour or to apply for a place for your child; we’ll be happy to help.

Little Cedars Nursery: high-quality childcare services in Streatham, near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is located in Streatham, just a stone’s throw from Tooting Common and the A214. As well as suiting those families in Streatham and Tooting, we may also be conveniently located for those looking for a nursery or preschool near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood.

Rough Guide to Free Childcare for Children in England (2023 Edition)

Today we provide a rough guide to free childcare schemes available in England. There are many different ways eligible families can obtain at the very least some free childcare, so today we look at the various Government schemes and options available. The good news is that there is even one that’s available to pretty much everyone — and it’s quite generous. We’ll take a look at that childcare funding scheme first.

‘Universal’ Free Childcare Hours for 3- & 4-Year-Olds

(The “15 Hours” Scheme)

Up to 570 Free Childcare Hours Available

  • With Universal Free Childcare, children aged 3 or 4 can receive up to 570 hours of free childcare over the course of the year.With Universal Free Childcare, children aged 3 or 4 can receive up to 570 hours of free childcare over the course of the year.
  • Also known as their Free entitlement, it typically equates to 15 hours of free childcare per week over the course of 38 weeks of the year.
  • Some childcare providers may be able to stretch the hours out in a different pattern if it better suits families.
  • The childcare would be available through a nursery, preschool or childminder that’s properly registered to offer free childcare places, plus some other types of provider.


Universal free childcare is not means tested and all children aged 3 and 4 living in England are eligible to receive the free hours. 3- and 4-year-olds moving to England from abroad are also entitled, even without British citizenship. Eligible children can start their free childcare in the term following their 3rd birthday.

How to Apply

Families should apply through their local childcare provider. If you live/work in Streatham and are interested in your child getting their free entitlement at Little Cedars Nursery, please apply here or get in touch to discuss a nursery place with us. You can also find out more about childcare funding via your local council (you can find yours here).

‘Extended’ Free Childcare Hours for 3- & 4-Year-Olds

(The “30 Hours” Scheme)

Up to 1140 Free Childcare Hours Available

  • With Extended Free Childcare, eligible 3- and 4-year-olds can receive up to 1140 hours of free childcare per year.With Extended Free Childcare, eligible 3- and 4-year-olds can receive up to 1140 hours of free childcare per year instead of only 570.
  • Also known as 30 hours’ free childcare, it typically equates to 30 hours of free childcare each week over 38 weeks.
  • As before, however, some childcare providers may be able to offer a different pattern of hours each week, for example if families prefer to take the free hours over 51 weeks of the year rather than limit them to term time only.
  • As with the Universal scheme, the free childcare would be available through a nursery, preschool or childminder that’s properly registered to offer free childcare places, plus some other types of provider.


In contrast to the Universal scheme above, Extended free childcare for children in England aged 3 and 4 is means tested and there are quite a few additional rules around eligibility. These relate to income, job status, immigration status, and your child’s circumstances. In regard to income, generally speaking, eligibility requires that the parent(s) – or a single parent and their partner – are working and are each earning at least £8,668 per annum (less if aged under 23) but less than £100,000. The lower figure is based on 16 working hours per week on at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage. There are several exceptions to the general guidelines, though, and it is therefore wise to consult the more detailed eligibility information available here.

How to Apply

Applications for the Extended (30 hours) free childcare scheme must be made online via the Government website. Children are eligible to start using their free childcare in the term following their 3rd birthday, but parents can apply for it once they reach the age of 2 years and 36 weeks. Don’t leave your application too late because a code will be required in order for your childcare provider to access the childcare funding and you need to know that code in the month preceding the start of the term your child joins. The code will also need to be reconfirmed once every quarter.

Free Childcare for Disadvantaged 2-Year-Olds

Up to 570 Free Childcare Hours Available

  • Some disadvantaged children aged 2 can receive up to 570 hours of free childcare over the course of the year.Some disadvantaged children aged 2 can also receive up to 570 hours of free childcare over the course of the year.
  • This usually equates to 15 hours of free childcare each week over 38 weeks of the year.
  • As with some the schemes above, some childcare providers may be able to spread the hours out in a different way, e.g. less hours per week over more weeks of the year.
  • The childcare would be available through a nursery, preschool or childminder that’s properly registered to offer free childcare places, plus some other types of provider.


In order to be eligible, children’s parents/carers must be in receipt of one or more qualifying Government benefits. These include JSA, ESA, Income Support and Universal Credit amongst others. Household income and any savings must also fall below certain thresholds.

Children may also be eligible, however, if they are in an ‘additional needs’ category. For example, they receive Disability Living Allowance, have an ECH Plan, are being looked after by the local authority, have left care under certain types of order, or fall into another specific category. Some non-UK citizens may also be eligible. More details are available here.

How to Apply

You can apply via your local childcare provider or council.

Tax-Free Childcare

£2,000 to £4,000 in Free Childcare Potentially Available

  • Up to £2,000 in free childcare (£4,000 if disabled) is available each year to eligible children aged 11 or under through the Tax-Free Childcare scheme.For those that are eligible, up to £2,000 in free childcare is available each year to children aged 11 or under* through the Tax-Free Childcare scheme.
  • For disabled children up to the age of 16 inclusive*, up to £4,000 may be available.
  • The funding is paid into a special online Childcare account and equates to a maximum of either £500 or £1,000 per quarter, as appropriate.

* Children are no longer eligible from 1st September in the year that they are 11 years of age, or 16 if disabled.

The free childcare funding is funded by the Government via the online Childcare account, which the parent (or even their relative or friend) pay into. For every £8 they pay in, the Government will top up the account by an additional £2, up to the maximum(s) described above. The funding is paid from the account direct to the registered childcare provider, who must be signed up to the scheme. It can be used for no other purpose.


This particular scheme is quite widely available. Although it is means tested, the bar is set quite high. Each parent (or a parent and their partner if they have one) can be earning up to £100,000 per year yet be eligible. Generally speaking, they should also be earning no less than the equivalent of 16 working hours per week on at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage, although there are exceptions to the rule.

Aside from household income and the age of children, which we covered above, there are additional rules around eligibility relating to job status, immigration status, and your child’s circumstances. More information is available here.

How to Apply

You can apply for Tax-Free Childcare here.

Childcare Vouchers

(Closed to New Applicants)

A.k.a. Employer-Supported Childcare

  • You can sacrifice up to £55 per week of your earnings, which will be free of National Insurance and Income Tax, to fund Childcare Vouchers.You can sacrifice up to £55 per week of your earnings, which will be free of National Insurance and Income Tax, to fund Childcare Vouchers.
  • Closed to new applicants but see the Eligibility section below for more information.


This scheme is still available, through participating employers, but only to those who joined it before 4 October 2018. However, it is closed to new applicants. Exactly how much of your earnings you can use in this salary sacrifice scheme will depend on the date you joined the scheme and how much you earn.

More information is available here.

Free Childcare Through Universal Credit

  • Childcare funding through Universal Credit is set to be improved with nearly 50% more generous funding becoming available from July 2023.Following the Spring Budget 2023, childcare funding through Universal Credit is to be improved with nearly 50% more generous funding becoming available from July 2023.
  • The proposed changes will also mean that the childcare funding will be pre-paid by the Government from that date, rather than families having to pay for it first and then claim it back (as is the case at time of writing, April 2023).
  • This funding will increase to as much as £951 per month for one child or £1,630 per month for 2, from July 2023. Before that date the maximums are £646.35 and £1,108.04 respectively.
  • The maximum eligible families can claim, however, is 85% of their childcare costs, which for some may be lower than the figures stated above.


You or your partner, if you have one, must usually be working, be on a low income and claiming Universal Credit. The child you are claiming free childcare for must be under 17. How much you earn and the level of any investments and savings you might have will be taken into account when you claim and other criteria and caveats will also affect your eligibility.

Read more about the changes to free childcare through Universal Credit proposed in the Spring Budget here and learn more about free childcare through Universal Credit here.

How to Apply

You can apply for Universal Credit here or call them on 0800 328 5644.

Free Childcare Through Tax Credits

(Closed to New Applicants)

Claim Back up to 70% of Childcare Costs if Eligible

  • Claim back up to 70% of childcare costs through Tax Credits.Those already claiming for childcare costs via Working Tax Credits may be able to obtain up to £122.50 for one or £210.00 for more than one child each week.
  • This is up to a maximum of 70% of eligible childcare costs.
  • Funding is paid, retrospectively, to the parent/carer’s bank/building society account.


As this scheme is closed to new applicants, new claimants will need to apply for free childcare through Universal Credit instead (details are shown above). Existing claimants will need to use an approved childcare provider (properly registered etc.) that provides the childcare in person, not online.

More information is available here.

Free Childcare for Children Aged from 9 Months

(Coming Soon)

The Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed radical improvements to childcare funding in his 2023 Spring Budget in March 2023. These include the following additions for eligible children of working parents:

  • Free childcare will soon be available for eligible children aged from just 9 months.2-year-olds may be eligible for the ’15 Hours’ scheme from April 2024.
  • Children aged from just 9 months may be eligible for the ’15 Hours’ scheme from September 2024.
  • Children aged from 9 months to 3 years may become eligible for the ’30 Hours’ scheme from September 2025.
  • Eligibility for the above will follow the same criteria as currently in place for the existing ’30 hours’ scheme (a.k.a. Extended Free Childcare) for 3- and 4-year-olds.

Learn more about the coming changes to childcare funding for children aged from 9 months here.

Student Childcare Grants

Undergraduate Students Can Receive up to 85% of Childcare Costs

  • Undergraduate students can receive up to 85% of childcare costs, if eligible, through a Student Childcare Grant.Up to 85% of childcare costs incurred by students may be claimed, up to a maximum of £188.90 per week for 1 child or £323.85 for 2 or more (correct for academic year 2023-2024).
  • For the academic year 2022-2023, the figures are £183.75 and £315.03 respectively.
  • The grant is paid into a Childcare Grant Payment Service (CCGPS) account and the childcare provider will request payments from this, usually weekly, as appropriate.


Eligibility rules include the following:

  • You need to be a full-time student studying in higher education and living permanently in England;
  • You need to be eligible for undergraduate student finance based on income, which must be under a certain threshold;
  • You cannot have a postgraduate loan nor be claiming other specific types of childcare funding, including childcare help from the NHS;
  • Your child must be financially dependent on you;
  • Your child should be under 15 (17 if they have special educational needs).
  • Other caveats apply.

More information is available here.

How to Apply

You can apply for the Student Childcare Grant at the same time as applying for your main student finance.

Childcare Funding via the Care to Learn Scheme

Up to £175 per child per week may be available.

  • Funding through the Care to Learn scheme can be used to fund childcare, childcare deposit and registration fees, childcare taster days/sessions and even travel to/from the provider.Up to £160 per child is available each week for those living outside London.
  • For those inside London, that increases to a maximum of £175 per child each week.
  • The payment can be used to fund childcare, childcare deposit and registration fees, childcare taster days or sessions and even travel to/from the provider.


You will need to be under 20 when you begin your course, be your child’s main carer, live in England and be a British citizen (or legally be allowed to live/study in England). Your properly-registered childcare provider and the course you are studying on will need to qualify for the scheme. Courses will need to be publicly-funded ones, provided in specific types of setting including sixth form schools/colleges, schools, colleges and other types of provider. However, they cannot be higher education courses at universities. Attendance of both the course by the student and of childcare sessions by the child will need to be good in order to continue to qualify.

More information is available here.

How to Apply

Apply for the Care to Learn scheme here.

Childcare Funding via the Learner Support Scheme

Suitable for Over-20s Studying in Further Education

  • Childcare funding through the Learner Support Scheme is suitable for over-20s studying in further education.While it’s not designed to fund childcare, it can be used to do so in some circumstances.
  • Your specific circumstances will govern exactly what help and how much funding is available to you.


If used to fund childcare, the Learner Support Scheme is suitable for students studying in further education to Level 3 inclusive. They must be parents and also be facing financial hardship in order to qualify. The childcare provider must be registered with Ofsted.

More information is available here.

How to Apply

Student parents should apply through their learning provider, e.g through the college they are studying at.

It’s worth noting that some of the schemes above can be used in tandem with one another, while others strictly cannot. Check the links for more information about each for more details.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

High Quality Childcare Provision for Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers in Streatham

Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Little Cedars is officially a good nursery/pre-school and offers high quality childcare in Streatham, London SW16. Subject to eligibility and availability, we support Government childcare funding schemes for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and children under five at the setting.

If you haven’t yet visited, why not bring your little one for a guided tour and you’ll soon see how well they fit in. We’re happy to answer any questions and would welcome your application for a childcare place.  Please get started with your application or contact us using an option below and we’ll be delighted to help:

We are located in Streathamclose to Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton.

Childcare Funding Reforms from the Chancellor's Spring Budget 2023

Childcare funding is set to be positively revolutionised following the Chancellor's Spring Budget, 2023.March 15th 2023 saw the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Spring Budget announcement, which included news of extra funding to cover costs for childcare. Crucially, the new funding will support childcare for infants as young as 9 months old for the first time, as well as including other positive changes. Although it’ll be introduced in stages, the free funding should be welcome news for those parents who will be eligible. Let’s take a look today at the proposed childcare changes, including which age groups will benefit, what extra funding is promised to support families and when the new help will become available. First, though, we’ll look at the main aims of the new funding.

The Aims of the New Childcare Funding

The proposed changes are aimed at helping families overcome current barriers to being able to work, for example because of childcare timing limitations and/or affordability. They should also help the nation, though. Helping parents — especially women — to return to the workplace more easily will boost both household income and career prospects. This, in turn, will also help fill some of the many vacancies in the workplace. So, it will indirectly help the nation through growth and inflows into the Exchequer as well as helping families directly. The press has, however, highlighted some frustration that the changes won’t happen soon enough for many, and are being introduced in stages. However, childcare providers will need time to adapt to the changes, for example to build extra capacity to cater for the extra demand. They will also need to adapt to some new rules around things like staff-to-child ratios.

“Almost half of non-working mothers said they would prefer to work if they could arrange suitable childcare.” (Jeremy Hunt, Chancellor of the Exchequer)

The Childcare Funding Improvements:

Childcare Funding Improvements Announced

To sum up the new childcare funding enhancements, the Chancellor’s plans to help eligible families include the following:

  1. The ‘30 hours’ free childcare scheme for eligible 3- and 4-year-olds will soon be extended to eligible children right from the age of just 9 months.
  2. Childcare provision via Universal Credit childcare support, for those parents who want to move into work, or increase hours, will be made more affordable and viable.
  3. What’s known as ‘Wraparound Care’ in relation to childcare for children of school age will also be improved through a ‘Pathfinder’ scheme.

Let’s have a closer look at these three areas, which will positively benefit the attainability of childcare for almost all under-fives:

1. Childcare Funding for Children from 9 Months

Childcare funding will be available for children from just 9 months of age.The ‘main event’ in the Spring Budget from the perspective of childcare provision is the significant expansion of the ‘free hours’ schemes. Previously, only 3- and 4-year-olds living in England could get up to 30 free childcare hours per week, along with some 2-year-olds being eligible for 15 hours per week. However, the Chancellor has announced that 30 free weekly childcare hours will soon be extended to eligible children aged from just 9 months old. Eligibility criteria for these much younger children will be based on the same eligibility requirements as for 3- and 4-year-olds on the existing ’30 free hours’ scheme.

“Significant reforms to childcare will remove barriers to work for nearly half a million parents with a child under 3 in England [who are] not working due to caring responsibilities … reducing discrimination against women and benefiting the wider economy in the process.”

This new support scheme for infants will be gradually phased in during the period running up to September 2025.

  • First, 2-year-olds of working parents will become eligible for 15 hours of free childcare, for 38 weeks of the year, from April 2024. This will benefit up to 285,000 children.
  • The scheme will then be extended to children aged from 9 months of age from September 2024, which will benefit up to an additional 640,000 children.
  • Finally, from September 2025, the Chancellor says, “all eligible working parents of children aged 9 months up to 3 years will be able to access 30 free hours per week.”
  • This is all in addition to existing schemes for 3- and 4-year-olds.

For those children who are eligible, it will mean that they will receive Government-funded childcare hours right from the age of 9 months, with 2-year-olds becoming eligible from just over a year’s time at time of writing (March 2023). With the 3-and-up funding schemes already in place, eligible little ones will then be supported with childcare right up until they start school around the age of five. That will be a game-changer for parents who want to get back into work immediately following any maternity/paternity leave.

“This will help with the cost of living, support education for the youngest children, and remove one of the biggest barriers to parents working.”

2. Universal Credit Changes for Childcare

Universal Credit childcare support will increase by around 47% and will soon be paid in advance instead of in arrears.Some struggling parents in receipt of Universal Credit childcare support, who would like to move into work or increase existing working hours, will have subsidised childcare costs paid in advance under the new proposals. This is in contrast to the existing approach where all parents had to pay for the childcare upfront and then reclaim the costs retrospectively. Funding the childcare costs in advance will make the subsidised childcare costs much easier for the lowest-income families to afford from a practical, cash-flow point of view. It will also hopefully improve the situation whereby, currently, only 13% of eligible low-income families actually claim the childcare element of Universal Credit.

Only 13% of eligible low-income families currently claim the childcare element of Universal Credit.

Under the existing Universal Credit childcare scheme, eligible families can currently claim back up to 85% of childcare costs, up to a maximum of £646 per month for one child or £1,108 for two in most cases (follow the bold link for more details). However, under the new proposals announced in the Spring Budget in March 2023, eligible parents will soon be able to claim significantly more. Indeed, the increase is approximately 47% more, rising to £950.92 per month in childcare funding for a single child and £1,630.15 per month for two or more.

3. Wraparound Childcare ‘Pathfinder’ Scheme

The new ‘Wraparound Pathfinder Scheme’ is designed to provide childcare earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon, so parents can work a full day and still pick them up.Although this website and our childcare service are geared to the early years age groups, it would be remiss of us not to include a brief overview of the enhancements that are being introduced for children of school age. These are coming in via proposed changes to what is known as ‘Wraparound Care’ as we’ll explain.

A major problem for many working parents of school-age children is that school hours are generally shorter than the adult’s working hours. This incompatibility creates a barrier to finding a workable childcare solution that would otherwise allow the parent to work during normal office hours. The new ‘Wraparound Pathfinder Scheme’, proposed in the Chancellor’s Spring 2023 Budget, is designed to provide childcare for the children even during those ‘mismatched’ hours. For example, wraparound childcare will start to cover the period from 3pm, when many children finish their school day, to 6pm when parents may finish their working day. Similarly the new provision will allow children to be dropped off earlier in the day, so that parents can get to work by, for example, 9am after dropping children to their childcare providers in the preceding hour. Under the changes proposed in the Chancellor’s Spring Budget, parents of school-age children will be able to drop them off as early as 8am and pick them up as late as 6pm during the working week. The scheme will first be tested, however, and rolled out nationally, if successful, from the academic year starting in 2024.

Benefiting Parents, Children & Society

The changes proposed in the Chancellor’s Spring Budget 2023 should improve the lives and careers of parents of young children, improve access to all-important early years education for those little ones and help to support economic growth for the nation.

“An early start in early years education benefits children and spending more hours in early education between age 2 and 3 has immediate positive impacts, including more prosocial behaviour, fewer emotional symptoms and peer problems.”

The Chancellor also announced additional support measures for childcare providers, to help them adapt and prepare for all the new changes and additional capacity that will be required. Learn more about the Chancellor’s announcements for childcare reforms on the Government’s Education Hub.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

High Quality Childcare Provision for Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers in Streatham

Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Little Cedars is a high quality nursery and pre-school located in Streatham, London SW16. Recognised as a good childcare provider by Ofsted, we cater for babies aged from 3 months and children aged up to five years. We support the various Government schemes that allow eligible families to access free childcare.

Get in touch today to register your baby or child for a childcare place at Little Cedars Nursery. We’re happy to answer questions and/or to show you and your little one around the nursery/pre-school too. Why not visit and see how well they fit in! Please choose a button to get started with your enquiry or application:

Little Cedars Nursery is located in Streathamnear Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton.

Baby Banks - Free Help for Families

All sorts of equipment is available from Baby Banks, including prams, pushchairs and strollers.Today’s post will appeal to families who are finding the current financial climate particularly challenging. With energy costs and inflation so high, the following may represent a welcome piece of good news. Today we highlight the many Baby Banks that are popping up all around the UK and explain how they can help struggling families, all for free.

Baby Banks are a fabulous resource for families. In recent years, they have become very popular with families experiencing harder times, especially since the outbreak of Covid and the subsequent cost-of-living crisis. With such things putting a real squeeze of family finances, Baby Banks are really coming into their own to help families, their babies and children.

What’s a Baby Bank?

Bottles, formula milk and sterilising equipment are often available at baby banks.A Baby bank is a similar concept to a food bank. However, instead of food and drink, it provides second-hand clothing, toys and equipment for babies, under-fives and often even for children up to the age of 16 in some cases. Baby Banks can also be compared to a charity shop, however, with baby banks, everything is free.

What Can Families Get at Baby Banks?

Exactly what families can get depends on the particular Baby Bank itself and, of course, stock levels at any given time. Some things are more in demand than others too and exactly what items are stocked also varies between different Baby Banks. Here are some examples, however, of the typical kinds of things available to families from Baby Banks, all for free:

Clothes for babies, toddlers and children.Toys and other types of play equipment.
Towels, blankets and bedding.Nappies and wet wipes.
Cots, Moses baskets, cribs.Bottles and sterilising equipment.
Baby carriers.Baby foods and formula milk.
Prams, pushchairs and strollers.Toiletries.
High chairs, table-top feeding chairs, floor seats etc.Baby baths, including for newborns and older babies.
Baby bouncing chairs and baby rockers.Even car seats in some cases.


Little Village’s video is well worth watching and really brings home how excellent and crucial Baby Banks are.

How Can Families Access Items from Baby Banks?

Toys and games are also often available at Baby BanksBaby Banks are run by all sorts of different people and organisations and therefore the rules around actually getting ones hands on the free items vary from Baby Bank to Baby Bank. Some accept requests for items directly from families themselves. Others only deal via a referral from some kind of professional. Examples include social workers, family support agencies, teachers, family centres, health visitors, medical professionals, food banks and women’s refuges. So, once you have located your nearest Baby Bank, you will need to check whether they will deal with you directly or only through such a referral. Either way, you will usually need to agree a time and date for collection of your item with the Baby Bank (you can’t usually just turn up, although there are exceptions). Not all Baby Banks are open all week and that’s another reason to check with Baby Banks or their websites first.

Can Families Donate Used Items to Baby Banks?

You can donate items in good condition to baby banks.Absolutely! Baby Banks rely on the generous donations from families that no long require their baby clothes or equipment. Perhaps the child has grown out of them and the items are still in good condition, or perhaps they were an unwanted gift. Donating items is also a great way to declutter and to make space in the home, as well as helping others. However, before donating to a Baby Bank, always check with them to see if all your proposed items are required and, as before, ensure you know whether an appointment is needed or whether you can just turn up with your items. Certain rules may also apply around the condition and type of items (this varies depending upon which Baby Bank you are dealing with). Baby car seats and electronic items may also have special rules due to the extra safety considerations.

Interactive map of UK Baby BanksWhere Can I Find My Nearest Baby Bank?

There’s a great resource that maps the location and information for over 200 Baby Banks throughout the UK. While this may not include absolutely every Baby Bank, it’s a great place to start looking for your nearest one. Access the interactive map by clicking the map image. You can zoom in or out and click individual map ‘pins’ to pop up contact details for each.

Baby Banks Near Streatham

Our nursery is in Streatham, so we thought we’d check what’s available near us. After all, it may help our nursery’s many families. According to the interactive map, the three Baby Banks closest to Streatham are Little Village Baby Bank in Wandsworth, Growbaby Baby Bank in Merton and Sutton Vineyard Lighthouse Baby Bank in Sutton. Their products appear to be free regardless of family income, faith or circumstance. Each provides used but good quality clothing and equipment for babies and children. According to their websites, Little Village is the only one of the three that requires a referral. Here are their details:

Little Village, WandsworthGrowbaby, MertonSutton Vineyard Lighthouse
SW17 7AP | Website | EmailCR4 2HA | Website | EmailSM1 1PR | Website | Email

Free Childcare Options for Streatham Families at Little Cedars Nursery

Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Little Cedars Nursery supports Government-funded childcare schemes for eligible families and this is another way they can save significant money. We support schemes for 15 hours per week of free childcare for eligible 2-year-olds, 15 hours of free childcare per week for 3 & 4-year-olds living in England and up to 30 hours per week for them if eligible for the top-up. We also support students requiring childcare through Student Childcare Grants & Schemes, families accessing Tax-Free Childcare, Free Childcare through Universal Credit, Childcare Vouchers and so on.

We are a high quality childcare nursery and pre-school in Streatham, also being close and convenient to those in Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton. Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss childcare funding options or a place for your child at the nursery. We’ll be happy to help. Please choose a button below to get started:

18 Reasons to Choose Little Cedars Nursery for your Childcare

If you’re choosing a nursery or pre-school for your child in or around Streatham, Furzedown, Tooting or Balham, making your final choice may not be as hard as you think. Take a look at 18 compelling reasons to choose Little Cedars Nursery below. You’ll soon see why we’d make an unbeatable choice for the childcare of under-fives in the area.

1. Superb Parent Feedback

In the last five years, Little Cedars has received only 5-star reviews on Google and FacebookIndependent feedback from other parents is worth its weight in gold. In the last five years, Little Cedars has received only 5-star reviews on Google and Facebook. That’s top marks, consistently for 5 years running.* Comments that accompanied these independent reviews were equally compelling — here are just a few examples:

“Amazing nursery! Our daughter loved it here and all the staff are fantastic!”

“[The] team are amazing in every way, with the attention and time they give to the children. Very good knowledge on childhood illnesses and allergies.”

“With the new management this nursery is better than ever. Well done Maggie!”

“Lovely nursery, great team and an amazing outdoor space — they have animals which is fantastic. Amazing management team …”

“I just love the friendly vibes, the lovely facilities (including resources, grand garden and animals!). Maggie, the manager, has been just wonderful and you can see her deep commitment as she often supports her team in the rooms! [A] hands-on manager that will always give you time to talk about your child is a recipe for a success! Highly recommended!”

Ofsted also remarked that parents gave them wonderful feedback about the nursery in their recent Ofsted inspection.

2. Rated as a “Good Provider” of Childcare by Ofsted

In Ofsted’s recent appraisal, they consistently rated Little Cedars Day Nursery as “Good” — in every category. The Ofsted report sang our praises across the board. Here’s how they rated each of the core, specific areas in their opening synopsis:

  • Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderQuality of education is rated as ‘Good.’
  • The quality of leadership & management is rated as ‘Good.’
  • Behaviour & attitudes are rated as ‘Good.’
  • Opportunities for personal development are rated as ‘Good.’

Learn more about the excellent Ofsted report for Little Cedars Day Nursery, here.

3. A Home-From-Home for Under-5s

Little Cedars is a warm, welcoming and nurturing environment.Little Cedars is a warm, welcoming and nurturing environment. To the babies and children, it very much becomes a home-from-home where they feel safe, valued, cared for and all with wonderful, close relationships with both peers and our childcare professionals. It’s also a place of immense fun where little ones are happy, stimulated and nurtured in order to bring out the best in them.

4. Exceptional Resources, Equipment & Facilities

Little Cedars Nursery is extremely well resourced and equipped, both inside and out.Little Cedars Nursery is extremely well resourced and equipped, both inside and out. Take a look at our photo gallery to see the high quality equipment outside to give you an idea. We have an amazing array of facilities that children will love, as they play and learn. They will have immense fun while also learning in the most natural of ways. We have multi-sensory areas, carefully-chosen reading materials, interactive toys and equipment and specially designed areas for each specific age group.

5. Affordable Childcare Fees

For those childcare hours that are not covered by Government schemes, our nursery and pre-school fees are very good value. What’s more, prices are discounted for children attending all five week days each week. Siblings attending at the same time also receive a 13% discount, making childcare services at Little Cedars Day Nursery even more affordable.*

6. Free Childcare Funding Schemes for Eligible 2-Year-Olds

We support the Government's free childcare funding schemes for 2, 3 and 4-year-olds.If your 2-year-old is eligible for the Government’s free childcare scheme for this age group, rest assured that Little Cedars Day Nursery supports them and this can potentially give your little one 15 free hours of childcare per week for as many as 38 weeks of the year. That’s 570 free childcare hours per year for your 2-year-old!

7. 15-30 Hours of Free Childcare Per Week for Eligible 3 & 4-Year-Olds

We also support the free, Government-funded childcare schemes for eligible 3 and 4-year-olds, giving them 15 to 30 free childcare hours per week over 38 weeks of the year. That’s 570 to 1140 hours of free childcare each year if they’re eligible. The good news is that all 3 and 4-year-olds living in England are eligible for the 15 free hours per week as a bare minimum.

Check out our Rough Guide to Free Childcare Funding in England for more details.

8. Free Childcare Vouchers Accepted

Little Cedars Day Nursery accepts recognised and valid childcare vouchers, which can really help with affordability. That’s never been more important and useful for families.

9. Great Support for Children with Additional Needs

If your child has additional special needs, choosing the right nursery/pre-school for them is an even harder task. However, Little Cedars Day Nursery has that covered too. Here’s what the independent Ofsted inspector had to say about the topic in their recent visit:

“Children who have additional needs are making good progress from their starting points. Managers and staff offer highly effective support and work closely with parents and other agencies … enabling targeted support that helps children reach their full potential.”

10. Healthy, Balanced Meals & Snacks

Our in-house chef prepares healthy meals for the children each day, along with healthy snacks. Only fresh, high quality ingredients are used to produce the children’s healthy, balanced meals and all special diets are catered for.

Food and snacks are included in our standard fees with the exception of 3 and 4-year-olds receiving Government funding for their nursery places. For those alone, there is a small fee for meals because those are not covered by Government funding. There is, however, no fee for food for 2-year-old funded places.*

11. A Key Person Assigned to Every Child

A Key Person is assigned to each child at Little Cedars Nursery.A Key Person is assigned to each child at Little Cedars Nursery. This is an early years practitioner who ensures that the child’s needs are being catered for and that their care at the setting is tailored to them as an individual. They help children settle in when they first join the nursery and build strong relationships with both the child and the parents. They are therefore usually the natural and key point of contact at the nursery.

12. A Learning & Development Programme Tailored to Your Child

A totally bespoke learning and development programme is developed for each individual child at the setting. This is designed to bring out the very best in them — in every area. So, areas where they’re naturally gifted are made even stronger and any areas where they need extra focus are identified, with appropriate measures introduced as required — including in any areas of special need. In this way, children achieve personal bests across the board and their potential outcomes are absolutely maximised.

13. A Progress Journal for Every Child

The early years practitioners at Little Cedars are so much more than childminders and Little Cedars should not be thought of as just a crèche. Our childcare professionals facilitate the early learning of children and constantly monitor their progress. Indeed a progress journal is maintained for every child as a continuous record of their learning journey. Parents/carers have access to this at any time and are also encouraged to add to it, using its findings to aid the continuation of the child’s learning and development programme even when at home. It’s all an integral part of ensuring that each child thrives in every area of their learning and development.

14. Hand Picked, High Quality Staff

We have a very special team at Little Cedars Nursery.We have a very special team at Little Cedars Nursery. Every one of them has been hand picked to ensure they are the perfect fit for the nursery and for the children therein. They’re warm, natural carers who will form wonderful relationships with children and bring out the very best in them. They become the children’s safe, familiar and friendly faces at the setting as well as facilitating top-notch learning and early years education. They also ensure every child is happy and is having fun whilst under our care.

15. Everything Has a Purpose at Little Cedars Nursery

At Little Cedars nursery/pre-school, everything has a purpose. Whether it’s a hand-picked book or piece of equipment, an interactive game or a particular activity the children are undertaking, it is there for a specific reason and is there to benefit each child in a particular way. An awful lot of thought goes into every little detail at Little Cedars in order to give children the tools to fulfil their utmost potential.

16. A Complete, All-Round Early Years Education

We help little ones achieve personal bests in all 7 areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).At Little Cedars we do so much more than simply look after babies, toddlers and under-fives. We educate and nurture them too. In fact, we ensure that our little ones achieve personal bests in all 7 areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). This is a high quality, all-encompassing learning and development framework that covers communication and language, physical development, personal, social and emotional development, literacy, mathematics, understanding the world and expressive arts and design. It pretty much covers everything children need to blossom and thrive.

17. We Prepare Under-Fives for Starting School

One of the key goals at Little Cedars Day Nursery and pre-school is to prepare the children for when they transition to school at the age of five. That’s a key milestone in their lives and we ensure that their transition goes as smoothly as possible. This includes a good early years education, as well as the fostering of good physical and mental skills, independence, good social skills and suchlike. When they leave us for school, they leave as the very best version of themselves, fully equipped to absolutely hit the ground running.

18. Safety is Always Paramount

The safeguarding of all babies and children under our care is of paramount importance to Little Cedars Nursery. Ofsted recognise this too, commenting in their recent report that our arrangements for safeguarding are effective, with risk assessments and appropriate procedures all being in place. So, as a parent or carer, you can rest easy in the knowledge that your baby, toddler or under-five child is in very safe hands — and that’s even independently verified by the experts.

Apply for a Place at Little Cedars Nursery & Pre-school

A nursery place for your child in Streatham, near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderWe hope you can now see all the benefits of sending your baby, toddler or preschooler to Little Cedars nursery/pre-school. If you are looking for a good nursery/pre-school in Streatham, or high quality childcare near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common or Furzedown, Little Cedars Nursery would make an excellent choice. We’re also close by if you live or work near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood. Contact us today to get started with your child’s nursery application or to arrange a visit, so you and your little one can see it for yourselves. Please choose a button to get started:

* Correct at time of writing (mid-August 2022).

The Complete Guide to Choosing a Nursery

One of the key challenges that affects parents is how to choose the best nursery or pre-school for their little one. Babies can go to nursery at just a few months old and Government funding for childcare kicks in from as early as 2 years of age. So, the choice of nursery is a decision that, for many, needs to be made very early in a child’s life.

What is the best way of choosing the most appropriate nursery or pre-school for your child? What factors should be taken into consideration? This guide clearly explains the key considerations and provides a useful road map to find the perfect nursery or pre-school match for an individual child.

Choose a convenient nursery locationA Convenient Nursery Location

The most obvious factor to consider is location. After all, you will usually want your child’s nursery or pre-school to be close to either your home or place of work — or somewhere en route — so they’re easy to drop off and pick up. With a quick Google map search for nurseries in your desired area, you’ll already be able to generate a great list of possible contenders.

Social Proof

While you’re still on the search results page, you can check how well the various nurseries have been reviewed on Google. Little Cedars has an average rating of 4.4 out of a possible 5 stars on their Google listing, for example — that’s very good. If you dig a little deeper, you can see that, of the 7 total customer reviews, 4 of them were rated at the full 5 stars, which again is extremely good. You can also see any comments with some reviews, where people left them. In our Little Cedars Day Nursery example, here are the comments:

“With the new management this nursery is better than ever. Well done …!]”

“… her team are amazing in every way, with the attention and time they give to the children. Very good knowledge on childhood illnesses and Allergies.”

“Amazing nursery! Our daughter loved it here and all the staff are fantastic!”

So, that’s the kind of thing you need to look for — happy customers! You can also do a similar exercise via the Facebook profiles for each of your contenders. How many 5 Star reviews have they got? What were the comments, if any?

Check children are happy at the nurseryCompatible Opening Hours

The nursery’s opening hours will also need to be compatible with your working hours and allow sufficient time to drop off and collect, allowing for travel. This may help to whittle down your list of contenders a little. Many nurseries and pre-schools only operate during weekdays, so if you work at weekends, you may need to make other arrangements on those days or find one of the rare nurseries that is also open on Saturdays or Sundays. Similarly, you may require childcare all year round and not all nurseries/pre-schools offer that. Our Little Cedars example operates for 51 weeks of the year, only closing for public holidays and one week between Christmas and New Year, so that would be very convenient if you’re looking for an all-year nursery or pre-school in the Streatham area.

Ask Around

Also ask around your friends, family and perhaps neighbours for recommendations. These are worth their weight in gold! You could also consider asking for any recommendations on social media, for example on Facebook, appropriate Facebook groups, or on other parent groups and forums online.

Spend time on Nursery Websites

A huge amount can be learned from a visit to your nursery contenders’ websites. They should tell you about the nursery’s approach to early years learning and development, about safeguarding and security, their curriculum, staff quality, facilities, equipment, anti-COVID measures and a whole lot more. Pricing may also be important as a consideration and websites are usually a great way to appraise fee levels without having to ask directly. If your child has a brother or sister, also check to see if the nursery or pre-school offers a sibling discount. Find out if food and drink are included in the fees. These are just a few examples of the type of information that you can usually obtain just by visiting nursery/pre-school websites, assuming they’re well maintained.

Speak to the Nurseries

Once you have a short list together, call each of the nurseries and speak with them. You can get a great deal of insight by talking with staff members. They may be able to tell you much more about the nursery than can be gleaned from their website or social media profiles. Sometimes speaking to staff can turn up wonderful nuggets of information. For example, they may run a phone app for parents to allow them to receive regular updates about their child throughout the day. They may be able to tell you more about security at the nursery. They should also be able to tell you how they are approaching the effects of the pandemic and what measures are in place to keep everyone safe, whether they’ve won any awards, whether they’ve just had an Ofsted inspection that’s not yet published … and so on.

Excellent, high quality staff, who are all suitably qualified.Visit the Nurseries & Ask Questions

Once you’ve whittled down your nursery contender list to a manageable level, it’s also a great eye-opener to visit the nurseries on your short list. There’s nothing quite so insightful as taking a tour of the nursery contenders in order to see them in action on a standard nursery day. Take note of the facilities and equipment, how the staff interact with the babies and children and consider taking your child with you during the visit. Was the setting a ‘good fit’ for them? Was it homely and welcoming? Did the children there look happy? Were the facilities good? Were the activities varied and well-supervised? Were children’s individual needs catered for? Were babies and young children given enough time for naps? Is the setting well-kept and does it look professionally run? If your child has special dietary requirements or preferences, will these be catered for? Is the food high quality, healthy and well balanced? Do staff feed back to parents/carers regularly about their children? Do they keep progress notes in regard to children’s learning and development and, if so, can they be viewed at any time? What are the child-to-staff ratios? How are special needs catered for? Visiting the nursery will give you ample time to ask these and lots more questions.

Ofsted Reports

Ofsted is the ‘Office for Standards in Education’, the main body for childcare and educational settings in England. You should check out recent Ofsted reports for any childcare settings that you’re considering. These can show some great detail about the running of nurseries and pre-schools on your list. Assuming they’re properly registered childcare settings (which they absolutely should be), don’t be alarmed if you can’t find an Ofsted report if they’re quite new. Not all settings will have them as they happen every four years, so relatively new nurseries may not have an Ofsted Report as yet. If they’ve had one, though, the Ofsted website will show the report. At time of writing (late 2020) Little Cedars has not yet had their Ofsted Report as they were only registered in late 2017, but we’ll publish results the moment our first Ofsted report has been generated.

Ask about safety & safeguarding measuresNursery Security & Safeguarding

For parents and carers, the safety and security of babies and children will be every bit as important as a homely atmosphere, a nurturing environment, a good curriculum, caring staff and modern equipment. Ask the nursery about security and safety at the setting. Are there anti-intruder measures in place, like an entrance system, CCTV and so on? Are there measures in place to stop the children being able to leave the premises unintentionally? When children and babies are picked up at the end of the sessions, is there a water-tight protocol in place to ensure that little ones are picked up by only the right people? Ask your nursery contenders all these kinds of questions.

Are Free Childcare Schemes & Vouchers Supported?

Find out if your nursery/pre-school contenders support the “free Government-funded childcare hours”. At Little Cedars, we support both the 15 and 30 hour schemes for 2- to 4-year-olds, where eligible and when spaces permit of course. Read our Rough Guide to Free Childcare Funding to learn more about those.

Any questions?

We hope this guide helps as a guide to choosing a nursery for your under-five baby or child. It goes without saying that Little Cedars would be absolutely delighted if we are considered as a nursery/pre-school place for your baby or child in Streatham, near Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Upper Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Furzedown or Balham in south west London. Do feel free to ask us any questions, book a visit, apply for a place or call for information and we’ll be very happy to help — click an option below:

Apply for a Place Arrange a Visit Message Us 020 8677 9675

Your Toddler Needs to Go to Nursery. Here’s Why.

Reasons your toddler needs to go to nursery or pre-schoolThere are compelling reasons why under-fives should attend early years education and childcare settings like nurseries or pre-schools, or their equivalent — before starting school. Missing this crucial stage in their early years education and development may disadvantage the child — a fact that’s backed up by various studies.

Results of a Department for Education (DfE) study released in February 2020 highlight the benefits of attending early childhood education and care, all in incredible detail. We took a look at their 145 page report and picked out some of the key findings.

Benefits of attending Early Childhood Education & Care (ECEC)

  • Note: the term ‘Early Childhood Education & Care’ (ECEC for short) refers to non-parental childcare and early education that occurs before school. There are several different types, including nursery settings, pre-schools, registered childminders and so on, so the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) and the European Commission have adopted this term to encompass them all.

According to the DfE study, early childhood education and care has both short- and long-term positive effects on the educational, cognitive, behavioural and social outcomes of children. That’s no mean feat. A good educational grounding for under-fives is also shown to result in more positive social behaviour, better behavioural self-regulation, lower instances of emotional issues and less peer problems.

“Research … indicated that the benefits of high quality early education exist from as young as two years of age.” (Sammons et al., 2002)

There are many benefits of early childhood education & careSome of these benefits are even more pronounced for disadvantaged children who start to attend formal ECEC sessions no later than the age of two. The DfE impact study shows that 2-year-olds benefit most if they receive early education and care for an absolute minimum of 10 hours per week by the age of two. Three- and four-year-old children from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit most from no less than 20 hours per week thereafter in the run-up to the start of primary school at age 5. Children who follow this approach have better verbal abilities when they start school and are also much more likely to achieve expected levels of personal attainment during reception year at school. The studies show that, with ECEC’s highly appropriate, structured preparation beforehand, children are able to hit the ground running once they transition to school.

It’s also interesting to note that, for children from households with the poorest home learning environments, there was a marked enhancement of verbal ability in year one of primary school for those who followed the above attendance approach prior to starting school. The early years education and care was clearly seen to have evened up the playing field in this respect.

Longer-term benefits of early years education & care

“15-year-olds who had attended some pre-primary education outperformed students who had not by about a year of achievement. ” (OECD report, 2011)

Benefits of ECEC can be lifelongAs well as having a positive effect on children’s readiness for school, there is also compelling evidence that early years education at good nursery/pre-school type settings has a marked, positive effect on children’s long-term attainment levels there – and indeed on their lifelong outcomes. As such, early years education and care represents an extremely solid foundation for children’s futures in general.

“ECEC interventions also boost children’s confidence and social skills, which provides a better foundation for success at school, and subsequently in the workplace.” (Sim 2018)

These are all profoundly important findings. Long-term studies have also revealed that educational success is likely to result in better success in employment during adulthood, improved social integration and even a general reduction in levels of criminality.

Benefits for families & society in general

Early childhood education and care doesn’t stop at benefiting children; it also benefits their families and society in general, in deep-seated ways. For example:

  • it allows parents to work, or re-enter the labour market after maternity leave;
  • it allows parents to develop their careers;
  • it helps to improve family income levels;
  • it may increase the potential for upward social mobility;
  • it reduces poverty;
  • it reduces welfare dependency;
  • it reduces crime rates;
  • and, of course, it ultimately improves the lives of children.

Nursery & pre-school for babies & under-fivesAre you looking at nursery/pre-school options for your baby or toddler?

In England, around 94% of 3- and 4-year-olds receive Government funding of some kind for childcare and early years education. For babies and children aged up to 2, it’s closer to 40% at last count. However, beginning any kind of education before attending primary school is not always a given; for one reason or another, there are a few children who only begin their education once they start primary school around the age of 5. For those who have the option for an earlier education but whose parents are unsure, we hope this article has helped to highlight just some of the many benefits of under-fives attending nurseries, pre-schools and childcare settings like Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham before the age of 5. The good news is that we support the Government-funded options for 15/30 hours of free childcare per week for eligible families. For those who are not eligible, our nursery fees are very competitive.  We’re based in Streatham, London SW16, so are also convenient for those looking for early years childcare around Streatham Park, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Furzedown and Balham. For more information or to apply for a place at the nursery, call us on 020 8677 9675, send us a message or book a visit here. We’d love to tell you more and to show you around!

The Tax-Free Childcare scheme: a complete guide for parents

Back in February, we published our ‘Rough Guide to Free Childcare Funding in England‘. This proved very useful to eligible parents and guardians who wanted to understand more about the free childcare funding that was available from the Government. For any parent or guardian, totally free childcare is a no-brainer and is usually the best source of childcare funding to consider first. However, for those who are not eligible, there’s another scheme to consider, called the Tax-Free Childcare scheme. While you do have to pay for the childcare yourself, a kind of tax ‘rebate’ (of sorts) helps to cushion you from having to pay for the entire cost.

Young boy drawing at pre-schoolThe Tax-Free Childcare Scheme could save you thousands

The Tax-Free Childcare Scheme

Under the Government’s Tax-Free Childcare Scheme, the Government effectively offers up to £2,000 of help per child, per year, for childcare, or up to £4,000 per year if they are disabled. It’s rather like crediting you back some income tax on the (tax-paid) money you’re going to be spending on childcare, which is why the scheme is called the Tax-Free Childcare Scheme.

How it works

If you are eligible, you simply open a Tax-Free Childcare Account on the Government website. For every 80p you pay in, the Government will put in an additional 20p (this is the part that’s akin to getting the Income Tax back on the money you’re going to spend on childcare). Using this approach, you can save up to £10,000 for childcare, per child, in your Tax-Free Childcare account. As mentioned above, you get even more back from the Government if the child in question is disabled.

Rules for eligibility:

  • Nursery table with play clay and wooden letters The Tax-Free Childcare Scheme is available to parents of children up to the age of 11 inclusive, or 16 inclusive if they’re disabled.
  • You, and your partner, if you have one, need to be working. (If you are a single parent, that’s OK).
  • If one of you is not working but is in receipt of specific benefits, the other can still be eligible. Those received benefits include various disablement and incapacity allowances, Carer’s Allowance, contribution-based employment & support allowance and National Insurance credits awards for incapacity/limited capacity to work.
  • If you have not yet begun working, but will begin working within the next 31 days, you can still apply.
  • Being on sick leave does not stop you from being eligible.
  • Each partner in the household, if there is more than one, needs to earn £140 or more per week (this is tied to the National Minimum Wage i.e. the equivalent of working 16 hours per week, if over 25, at time of writing). Those who have been self-employed for less than a year are not subject to the minimum above. Those who have been self-employed for more than a year will need to use an average of income for the next 3 months or entire current tax year to see if they’re eligible on the above basis.
  • Each parent must earn less than £100k per annum.
  • Those on maternity, paternity or adoption leave are still eligible on the above basis, but can only claim for children they are not on parental leave for.
  • Your chosen childcare provider must be registered with the Tax-Free Childcare Scheme along with at least one of the following regulators: Ofsted, the Early Years Register or the Childcare Register.

Under-five girl painting rainbowAlong with helping to fund nursery places at places like Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham, Tax-Free Childcare can also be used to fund the costs of other kinds of childcare service, so long as they’re registered as outlined above. Examples include play groups, breakfast clubs, some holiday activities like sports and even summer camps.

Is Eligibility affected if I’m working less due to coronavirus measures?

The short answer is no, i.e. if you’re temporarily working less because your work has been limited by the measures put in place to fight coronavirus, you can still claim.

How to apply for Tax-Free Childcare

To apply, sign up for Tax-Free Childcare at the Government site. It only takes 20 minutes or so. You’ll need your National Insurance number and your UTR (Unique Taxpayer Reference) if you’re self-employed. If you have a partner that you are making a joint claim with, the same two things are required for them, but you only need one account for the both of you.

Once your application has been accepted (it’s usually pretty fast), the Government’s 20% contribution usually goes into your account within just a few hours of you crediting the account with your 80%. Please note that there is a maximum credit of £500 per quarter from the Government. For this reason, it’s wise to credit your account with your contributions all year round if you have particularly high childcare costs that come in one shorter period within the year.

Young girl with mermaid drawingTIP: If you want the Government’s contribution to go into your account faster, your payment needs to be paid by Bank Transfer (rather than, say, via a debit card or standing order, although those still work fine if you don’t mind waiting a while longer for the Government’s corresponding contribution).

How to pay your childcare provider

Once your Tax-Free Childcare account is showing available funds, these can be sent directly to your childcare provider by selecting them from within the account and then transferring the appropriate amount to them. As above, they will usually receive the payment very fast although obviously it takes a little longer if you make a payment over a weekend or Bank Holiday. Allow up to 3 working days, in a worst case scenario.

Looking for childcare services in Streatham or south west London?

Little Cedars Day Nursery is based in Streatham, London, SW16. If you’re in that area, we’d love to be your chosen childcare provider. We’re conveniently close to Streatham high street, Streatham Park, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Furzedown and Balham. We’re well-established and offer the very best childcare services at our nursery/pre-school in Aldrington Road (SW16 1TU). Our qualified staff and facilities for children are excellent, whether they’re a 3 month old baby or a five year old child. Call 020 8677 9675 or contact our Streatham nursery team here and we’d be delighted to tell you more about our nursery, or to arrange a visit so you can see the setting for yourself.

P.S. You may also be interested in our separate Guide to Childcare Funding Available Through Universal Credit.