Spotlight on Resources: The Childcare Office

In this series, we’re taking a closer look at some of the resources available to Land Economy students, staff, and researchers.


My name is Sarah Barnshaw and I am the Childcare Information Adviser at the Childcare Office on Trumpington Street. The Childcare Office oversees the facilities and assistance offered to University staff and students with children. During the last 6 months I have answered 356 queries from students and staff.

The University Nurseries

The University has three day nurseries at Edwinstowe Close, West Cambridge and Eddington for children from three months to school age. Edwinstowe Close and West Cambridge Nurseries are managed on behalf of the University by Childbase Partnership, and both currently hold Outstanding grades from Ofsted. Edwinstowe Close Nursery is for staff only and West Cambridge has places for both staff and students. Eddington Nursery has 100 places for staff and students and also has 25 community spaces available. It is hoped that Eddington Nursery will open in October 2018. Eddington Nursery is managed on behalf of the University by Bright Horizons Family Solutions.

For further information please see our website.

If their children have a place at one of the University nurseries, staff can benefit from the Workplace Nurseries’ Salary Exchange Scheme to save tax and National Insurance payments on their nursery fees.

University Holiday Playscheme

The Childcare Office runs a Holiday Playscheme for primary and secondary age children which operates for 14 weeks a year during the state school holiday periods (excluding Christmas and Bank Holidays). Our venue at St Mary’s Junior School is also open for some additional holiday periods.

There are 2 sites — Chesterton Community College off Gilbert Road and St Mary’s School on Chaucer Road. There are approximately 150 places available. Cambridge University staff and students are able to book during the priority booking period. For further information and the registration and booking forms, please visit our website.

Stay and Play groups

Image Credit: mliu92

The University provides two Stay & Play groups for parents and under 5’s.

West Cambridge Stay and Play is held at the West Cambridge Community Room on a Wednesday morning from 10am-12 noon (during school term times) for families with a University connection who live on the West Cambridge site.

Eddington Stay and Play is a new group which will be held on a Thursday morning starting on 20 September between 10am-12 noon (during school term times) at the Postdoc Centre at Eddington. This group is for families with a University connection who live on the Eddington site. Both groups have toys, games and messy play activities. Come along and meet other families!

Other groups supported by the Childcare Office

The Graduate Union Parent and Toddler Group meets every Friday 10am-12 noon (in and out of term time) at the University Centre, Mill Lane. Students and/or their partners can bring their young children to this free informal group. The University provides a Group Activity Leader for this group. There are toys and singing and it’s a great opportunity to meet other student parents/families in Cambridge!

Teddington is a parent and under 5’s group which is held at the Storey’s Field Community Centre, Eddington on Tuesday mornings from 10am-12 noon. The group is run by local residents and runs all year round. The University provides a Group Activity Leader (during school term times) for this group and resources for the children to enjoy. The group is open to everyone and costs £1 per session.

Information Service for University Parents

The Childcare Office operates an Information Service, which aims to support families of the University community. The service offers information on family related issues including childcare, schooling, health care, financial support and local community resources.

My role is that of Childcare Information Adviser and I provide information on childcare provision to University and College staff, student parents and visitors to the University by email, phone and (by appointment) face to face. I answer queries on a variety of childcare-related matters including types of childcare available and how to find them, eligibility and the application process for a University nursery place, the school admissions process, OFSTED, Early Years Funding and also about ways of reducing childcare costs including the Workplace Nurseries’ Salary Exchange Scheme and the Government’s Tax-Free Childcare scheme.

Image Credit: Carol VanHook

It’s really hard to work out the exact number of student parents (those with children under 16) as some students don’t declare that they have children when they apply. Others have children during their time here. There are currently just under a thousand student parents that I am aware of and this information comes from asking the Designated College Childcare Contacts as well as taking information from CamSIS.

I answer many queries about financial assistance available for student parents including the Central Childcare Bursary Scheme for EU and overseas student parents and the Childcare Support Fund which is for home student parents. These schemes are both administered by the Childcare Office. I also provide information to students and staff on how to find out if they are eligible for other financial assistance from the Government such as tax credits and child benefit.

I also arrange a Welcome Event for new student parents in October/November every year to share information and answer queries from new student parents and attend the Welcome to Cambridge Events held for staff to give out information and answer questions from new members of staff.

How to find us

To keep you up-to-date with child related information and local family events, the Childcare Office produces a regular e-newsletter. It includes a parent message section advertising child-related items for sale, help wanted and services offered.

Please email us with your details to join the newsletter. For staff and visiting scholars, you will need to provide your name, job title and Department. For students, you will need to provide your name, college and course details. Partners are also welcome to subscribe: please include your partner’s details in your email.

You can find the Childcare Office on Trumpington Street.

If you would like to know more, please look at our website. We also have a Facebook page. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.