Childcare boost for Somerset families thanks to successful bid for £1.5m

Nearly 200 working families across Somerset will have access to an additional 30 hours of free childcare per week, as six projects to extend early years provision in the County are given much-needed funding from government.

Somerset County Council worked in partnership with six nurseries and pre-schools in Somerset to successfully bid for a combined £1.5million from the Department for Education as part of the Government’s 30 hours free childcare offer.  Somerset County Council is also supporting the projects with nearly £350,000 of capital funds.

The nurseries and pre-schools will now invest in new buildings, convert old buildings and upgrade their facilities, allowing more spaces for the families that decide to take up the 30 hours offer that will be introduced from 1 September 2017.

Cllr Frances Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “Many hard working families find that they struggle with the cost of childcare. The funding we have secured from the Government will ensure that nearly 200 new early years spaces become available, enabling nurseries to offer the new 30 hours of funded childcare to those families.

“I’m pleased that, thanks to our partnership working with nurseries and pre-schools across the county, we are able to help working parents. I am delighted that all six of the bids we put in have been successful.”

One of the nurseries that will receive funding is The Paddocks Nursery and Pre-School in Wiveliscombe. The nursery, based in Wiveliscombe Children’s Centre, will convert space that will provide 40 new 30 hour places for the community.

Steve Duncan, the Headteacher of Wiveliscombe Primary School, which runs The Paddocks, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to hear that we have been successful in our funding application. This will enable us to considerably re-structure the layout of the building to increase the capacity of the nursery and pre-school we have here.

“We are almost full to bursting currently and would have struggled to have accommodated 30 hour provision if it wasn’t for this opportunity. We are looking forward to the challenges over the next few months and the long term benefits this will offer to the community. We would like to thank Somerset County Council who supported us in putting this bid together.”

Find out more information about the 30 hours funded childcare offer at

The other projects include:

  • Rockwell Green Primary School, Wellington: A modular building at Rockwell Green Primary school in Wellington will allow the pre-school to move from the existing classroom to the new building on site. This will also create a new seventh classroom for the school.  The extended nursery will provide 20 new 30 hour places for the community.
  • New nursery in Norton Fitzwarren: The refurbishment and remodelling of an existing wooden building will give it a new lease of life as a nursery. This will provide 40 new 30 hour places for the community. This project is led by local charity ‘Go Commando’.

Sue Denis, Trustee of ‘Go Commando’, said: “We’re delighted to have been successful in obtaining Early Years Capital Investment funding to develop the new nursery.

“We look forward to working in partnership with Somerset County Council to develop a second and much needed thriving, excellent day nursery which will be open to the children of marines as well as children from the wider community.

“The Trustees of Go Commando are committed to supporting the children and families of serving and retired marines and this new joint venture will enable us to continue and extend this valuable work.”

  • Chuggers Day Nursery and Pre-School, Taunton: Refurbish the first floor of the nursery which is currently vacant to create an open plan provision for additional places with an outdoor play space on the rooftop terrace.  This will provide 34 new 30 hour places for the community.
  • The Olive Tree Nursery, Bridgwater: To remodel the old Occupational Therapy wing of the former Bridgwater Hospital site to create a new nursery provision in central Bridgwater. This will provide 32 new 30 hour places for the community.

Helen Hazell, from The Olive Tree Nursery in Bridgwater, said: “We are delighted to be accepted for this fantastic opportunity. This will be great for the families of Bridgwater and we will be able to support the working parents in the surrounding areas. This will support the long term development and regeneration of Bridgwater giving families who wish to return to work access to childcare.

“In the next 9 months there will be lots of hard work and challenges ahead of us, but this is something that the team at The Olive Tree Nursery are committed to. This is a great opportunity for the early year workforce as this will create opportunity for staff to develop and experience new provision.

“This funding means that we will be able to continue and extend the service that The Olive Tree Nursery offers to families in Bridgwater, this will enable us to expand on the high quality care and education that we already offer.”

  • Neroche Primary School: To relocate Neroche Pre-school to the school site. Purchase modular building to locate at front of school site to create new nursery provision for 3 and 4 year old children. This will provide 30  new 30 hour places for the community.

 Mr Connel Boyle, Headteacher of Neroche Primary School, said: “This news is simply fantastic for news for the Ilminster and village communities we serve. For working parents to be able to access 30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds with a Qualified Teacher at our school will be so beneficial for our community. We have planned for 5 years for this project and for it to be a reality now is so exciting!”

Mrs Claire Bowditch, Early Years Leader for Neroche School, said: “I cannot wait for the opportunity for Neroche School to build our new Nursery. The learning opportunities this will allow us to provide for our community’s youngest children will be amazing.”