The ‘Playnet’ Programme



15 hours of free nursery education be extended to all two year olds as per the proposals from the Liberal Democrats

This proposal form the Liberal Democrats is costed at £800 million. Playnet assumes that it will be implemented so that all two, three and four year olds are receiving 15 hours free nursery education during term-time. At present, only 40% of two years old are eligible for free nursery education

A national network of daycare centres attached to primary and nursery schools to provide 35 hours per week of childcare for one to four years.

This will be 35 hours of care for all one to four year olds during term-time in addition to any nursery education that they receive. Daycare will increase to 50 hours per week during holidays.

The aim is to provide 50 hours of nursery/daycare cover for all two to four year olds and 35 hours of cover for 1-2 years olds for 51 weeks of the year. Cover will be provided between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm to allow parents to get too and from work. This will dovetail with the Labour party proposals regarding primary school clubs.

All playnet sessions must be led by a Playnet co-ordinator.

Playnet is not about providing nursery education. It’s primary purpose is to provide working parents with daycare facilities. Secondary objectives will be learning through play and socialising skills through playing with others. Playnet co-ordinators need to be suitably qualified child minders or early years teachers. Child carers can become co-ordinator with suitable training.

Staffing ratios for Playnet groups to mirror those for nursery schools but with a tougher ratios on three to four year olds

Age Group Playnet Former Nursery Current Nursery
1-2 years 1:3 1:3 1:4
2-3 years 1:4 1:4 1:6
3 years and above 1:5 1:8 1:8


Charges and wage rates for Playnet to be set nationally

Charges will be set nationally to ensure affordability across the country. Playnet is price marginally on the assumption that other costs are already being met for the primary school/nursery.

Child carers are reimbursed at national minimum wage rates. Co-ordinators receive and extra £2.00 per hour.

Age Hourly rate Hrs covered Term-time (per week) Holidays(per week)
1-2 Years £2.50 ph 35 hrs £87.50 £125.00
2-3 Years £2.00 ph *50 hrs £70.00 £100.00
3 years and above £1.50 ph *50 hrs £52.50 £75.00

*Includes 15 hours of free nursery education during term time

Parents in receipt of working tax credit will receive the same help with child care costs as they currently get.

Playnet will require 703,000 full-time equilent child carers based on a 100% uptake by all one to four year olds and observance of the above staffing ratios

Playnet will have a positive bias towards greater opportunities for older workers. As such, Employers national insurance will not apply on child carers aged over 55 years. Playnet groups will also be eligibile for 40% reduction on business rates in addition to any small business rate reliefs that they may already be entitled too. All childcarers will be subject to extended CRB checks. These will be free for applicants over the age of 55.

 Each playnet group must also include a parent-toddler drop—in facility for parents with toddlers under the age of one.

There is plenty of evidence to show that parent-toddler groups are a valuable means of mutual support for new parents and so each playnet group will be required to offer these kind of drop-in facilities for parents with toddlers under the age of one. Parent(s) will not, however, be able to leave children under the age of one in the care of others.

Playnet will come under the jurisdication of the new Child welfare agency rather than ofstead

I set out elsewhere proposals for the reform of OFSTED which included splitting the organisation in two distinctive agencies. There was method to the madness.

There is plenty of evidence from Scandinavia that daycare facilities do not need to be over-regulated once the basic requirements of child safety has been met. As such, Playnet groups will not come under the jurisdication of OFSTED. The new Child Welfare agency will see to that all child carers have been subject to extended CRB checks.


Local authorities will be required to ensure that there are enough Playnet places for all parents that want one within two years of the programme getting the go-ahead.

One of the other objectives of playnet is to end the postcode lottery on childcare facilities across the UK. Consequently, Local authorities will be obliged to see to it that there is sufficient capacity in Playnet groups to meet the needs of local parents assuming a 100% uptake on daycare options


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