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The nurseries that charge more than top private schools [UK]

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Bloomfield, Steve
Publication Date: 
25 Jan 2004

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The children are not taught Latin, Greek or philosophy, and a place at Oxbridge is not guaranteed. Instead, there is finger-painting, learning to count and potty training.

Sending a toddler to one of Britain's most expensive nurseries now costs more than sending a child to the country's most successful school.

A report published tomorrow reveals that the typical cost of a nursery place for a child under the age of two is £134 a week. The most expensive will set parents back £17,500 a year - £3,000 more than Britain's top private school, Westminster, where last year no pupil got a grade lower than a C at GCSE.

The survey, carried out by the Daycare Trust and the TUC, will claim that child care costs now take up nearly a quarter of a family's household income.

The director of the Daycare Trust, Stephen Burke, said the results of its annual survey made the case for universal child care.

Most families probably wouldn't be able to afford a place at the Leapfrog Day Nursery in Smithfield, London. It charges up to £332 a week for a child under the age of two, making it one of the most expensive child care centres in the country.

This is the third year running that child care costs have risen by more than the rate of inflation. The average cost of £134 a week compares to an average weekly household income of £562 and average weekly expenditure on housing and food combined of £82.

The rising cost of child care has become a hot political issue. Early-years education and child care have formed a major part of Labour's "Big Conversation" and are expected to be a key component of the party's next manifesto.

It is a cause that appears to have united the Prime Minister and the Chancellor. Last week, the Blairite former Cabinet minister Stephen Byers - who is believed to be closely involved in the drafting of the next manifesto - called on the Government to commit to "universal provision" of child care.

- reprinted from the Independent