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Ladybird Playgroup 2024

The setting:

The playgroup setting is at Tina’s house in Osbaldeston Road, N16 7DJ. It is a light and spacious Victorian house, with a garden for outdoor play. Tina is working together with Rebecca Hodgson, a very experienced and former Kindergarten assistant and teacher at St Paul's Steiner School. The playgroup is designed to coincide with the hours of the kindergarten at St Paul’s Steiner school, so that parents with older siblings there can have childcare for younger children at the same time. The intention is that we offer a gentle year of preparation for kindergarten, nursery or school for children who are aged 2-4 years of age. We offer a simplified kindergarten rhythm, designed to meet the needs of the younger child in a smaller group of only six to eight children, within a warm nurturing environment. We accept children who have turned two years of age by September of that academic year.

We are a member of the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship and have exemptions from the Department of Education for some aspects of the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum (written literacy and numeracy and information technology). This enables us to work in a Steiner- inspired way while continuing to deliver the EYFS.

Rationale of Playgroup hours across the year:


Ladybird Playgroup runs on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.


At Ladybird, we have a very child-centered approach and acknowledge the rapid developmental changes that children of this age group go through. From our experience, the progress of children during their one year at ladybird can be compared to the growth they will experience over the subsequent three years in Kindergarten. Therefore, we have carefully adapted our routines throughout the year to reflect this change in a way that meets the children’s growing ability for sustained play and allows for an unhurried unfolding of the morning. This impacts on the hours we offer and how they are structured.


The playgroup runs only throughout St. Paul’s Steiner school term time and starts at 8:30am. During the settling in period of the first half-term until October (approximately 6 weeks) new children will be picked up at 12:30pm (in the initial 2 week settling period this may be earlier depending on the needs of the child). As soon as a child is fully settled they can either stay the full day until 3pm or be picked up at 1:30pm.


To support the unique family feeling of playgroup and create a unified and relaxed rhythm where we do everything together, we work towards all children attending full days. Once your child is ready, our expectation is that you take up three full days until 3pm. Again this depends on the needs of the child and the balance of ages and developmental stages in the group: some children stay until 3pm with a nap incorporated into their day, for others this may not work until later in the year, and this can be explored further in our initial meeting.

We care for a small group of children, with the same children attending everyday ie. every child coming for all three mornings. The aim is to create a settled group so that the children can build strong relationships with each other over the year. It is also important that the playgroup forms a significant part of the rhythm of the child’s week. To ensure continuity, we ask parents to commit to a place for their child for the full academic year. 

Drop off/pick up options: 

Tina has the capacity to pick up (at 8.30) and drop off (at 3.30) three children in the box bike. Priority of bike places is given to children who will use both pick up and drop off so are staying until 3pm and have older siblings at St Paul’s. This extends the overall hours by 30mins and is charged accordingly.

Tina makes use of quiet cycle routes recommended by Transport for London. Each child will need to wear a cycle helmet, and Tina holds public liability insurance, which covers riding in the cargo bike. We also carry a first aid kit on board as well as spare clothes and nappies for emergencies. We have toddler bike seats for younger/smaller children and have neck support pillows for napping children if children need to nap on the journey back to school.

Children not using the bike arrive at Ladybird at 8.30 and are collected at 1.30 or 3pm depending on their individual arrangements within the flow of the year.


Afternoons at playgroup:

In the afternoons, children are able to enjoy more relaxed play time, craft activities, outdoor play and a healthy snack. 

Some children might return to school for 3:30 pm by cargo bike, to coincide with the end of the extended school day at St Paul’s. Exact numbers and configurations can only be finalized once the next year’s playgroup children places and their preferences have been confirmed.  

Weekly rhythm:

Our weekly rhythm includes outdoor play in the garden, story time/puppet show, baking and seasonal crafts. We have a daily ring time of songs and finger rhymes. As spring comes and we know the group better (and they know each other well), we will expand our outdoor time to include a weekly walk in nearby Abney Nature Reserve.


We share a meal with the children at lunchtime each day. The food will be seasonal, organic, and freshly cooked each day. Please let us know if your child has any food allergies or intolerances and we can plan our menu accordingly. We sing a blessing and all eat the food together around a shared table, with the children using Stokke highchairs so that they can climb up and down independently.


Menu at playgroup (subject to change): 

a plate of raw cut vegetables and fruit plate accompanies every meal


       Monday                  Homemade bread and vegetable soup

       Tuesday                  Quinoa bake with vegetables

       Wednesday            Red lentil dhal with rice and broccoli


Working with parents:

Dialogue with parents is important to us. Each child will have a key worker, who will be you first point of contact and will be responsible for ongoing observation of your child’s holistic development. We will document their learning through photographs and observations which will be shared by email with both parents/carers, if parents have given consent for this. If you have any concerns or wish to discuss anything with us, we are happy to arrange a meeting with parents on request. Although, for some families who’s children are being collected by bike, there will not be the chance to see the playgroup setting on a daily basis, we will be inviting parents to join us for festivals, if the situation will permit it, throughout the year.  We will work with parents to contribute to the development check for 2-year olds that is required at 27 months of age.


Application procedure:

We are aware that it is important for families to plan their childcare for the upcoming school year so we like to give parents a clear outline of the application process. We aim to make our admissions process as fair and transparent as possible. Families who have expressed interest in the playgroup for their child will be added to a waiting list according to when they first contacted us. We hold an annual open day as part of our recruitment process where prospective parents can see our setting, meet us and ask any questions they may have. Parents are asked to complete an application for their child. Ideally we will have all the application forms before the open day and parents will be able to confirm after visiting whether or not they are definitely interested in a place for their child for the Sept 2024-July 2025 school year (or future years if your child will be younger than 2 years old in Sept 2024).


Once we have all the applications, we will allocate places and make offers to parents. Please rest assured that we make a careful note on our database of when each family first contacts us and we make offers in this order, along with aiming to create a balanced group in terms of age and gender. 


When an offer of a place has been made and the parents have accepted the offer we require you to pay the deposit to secure the place. The aim is that everyone knows whether or not they have a place at Ladybird by the start of the Easter holidays. Any families who are not offered a place are invited to remain on our waiting list. In our experience, places can become available due to a family’s change of circumstances, particularly in London when people can move away from the area. We have had occasional places come up over the summer, in the first term and even mid-way through the year. In these instances, we would contact families on the waiting list.


The parents will be asked to complete a contract and a child record form, giving contacts for parents and carers as well as emergency and medical contacts. We will also ask you to complete an ‘All about me’ form as a starting point for getting to know your child. We will arrange a home visit with families who are new to us, as part of the settling process. Some children may begin with shorter mornings for the first week or so, if the parents feel this would help with the settling in process. The contract will also have a settling in period of the first month. If parents feel the playgroup is not right for their child, they are free to end the contract at any time within the settling period. The deposit will be retained to cover loss of earnings while the place is filled. Beyond the settling in period, we will require a terms notice if you wish to leave the playgroup.


15 hours subsidized places:

We are able to offer reduced fees for children eligible for the 15 hours of government subsidy, please find more details under fees below. Parents can make payments either via their employer's voucher scheme or via the government's tax free childcare scheme (which contribute 20% to childcare costs). Those parents who are registered with an employer's voucher scheme will be able to pay playgroup fees this way. The following link gives up to date information about recent changes, as the government have set up a universal scheme -

Fees for the academic year starting September 2024


At Ladybird playgroup we have simplified the finances and are now charging in Block payments. From the beginning everyone attends the morning block on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays. This charge will include seasonal and organic food as well as all the craft materials, nappies, travel etc.


The afternoon block (with priority and immediate availability for older children and those with siblings at St Paul’s) runs until 3pm, and becomes available to the rest of the group after they are fully settled in.

We are offering the government 15 free hours of childcare in the term after your child has turned 3 years of age as long as your child is attending more than 15 hours. Staying only until 1.30 will not qualify your child for the funding. The government has just introduced the 15 hours funding for 2 year olds. Please contact us individually to discuss this as there are certain criteria that need to be met.

There are 4 options depending on your child’s age:


  • Full-price if your child will stay under 3 until the 31st of March 2025,

  • Subsidised funding for all 3 terms if your child turns 3 before August 31st 2024

  • Subsidised funding from January 2025 onwards if their birthday is before December 31st  2024

  • Subsidised funding from April 2025 onwards if their birthday is before March 31st  2025.

Fee for morning block              £600 per month Or £172 per week

8:30am - 1:30pm                     (based on a 35 week year)

Fee afternoon block                  £180 per month  Or £52 per week (until 3pm)

(without 15 hours funding)       Box Bike:

To be added to morning block               £250 per month  Or £72 per week (until 3:30pm)


Fee savings*                                

(with 15 hours funding)              £300 per month  Or £85.95 per week

and child attending until 3pm            


*The above example of subsidized fees is only applicable in those months that your child qualifies for the funding. As fees are calculated evenly on an individual basis for the entire year it may vary from the example above.        


The deposit for the playgroup is £540 and should you require to leave in exceptional circumstances, we need one terms notice. 

We will happily work out the exact fee for you depending on your child’s age and the relevant funding circumstances. We are also able, upon request, to average the childcare costs evenly throughout the year right from the beginning even though your child might be eligible for the funding only later on in the year. For example, if your child is attending only the morning block in the autumn term but is eligible for the funding from January onwards and will be attending full days until 3pm from January onwards, you would pay the full price in the first term and receive the subsidy in the next 2 terms. We could take this into account from the beginning and you can pay a regular amount for the entire year. This is complex and very individual, so do speak to us to clarify any questions you may have.


To reduce unnecessary admin work on our part and to help you spread the costs of the playgroup evenly throughout the year we are asking for 10 direct debit payments. You will always pay for the childcare after you have received it, starting to pay for the month of September on the first of October etc.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch:

       Tina Maas 07963 346 070

Application procedure
Weekly rhythm
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