Nursery school pricing as a tool for reducing social and educational inequalityA tiered social pricing system was introduced for the network of municipal nursery schools in the 2017-2018 school year. The goal was to reduce barriers to education for children under the age of three and attract more low-income families. Four years on, an assessment by the Barcelona Institute of Regional and Metropolitan Studies (IERMB) shows that the measure has changed the composition of families which use nursery schools, with an increase of 19% in low-income families.
The introduction of social pricing in recent years has brought about a significant change in the composition of children at municipal nursery schools, with the reduction in prices for low-income families and a socially diverse range of families still represented.
Quotas to match family incomes
The social pricing system introduced for nursery schools during the 2017-2018 school year has meant progress in equity and prevents the cost of nursery schooling from being a barrier to education, with quotas matching family incomes. Once children get a place, the pricing is established according to their household income.
The previous system consisted of a fixed monthly price of 289 euros, which included the service and school meals. The City Council offered discounts of 80%, 50% and 30% on the quotas for families with low incomes, and a 100% discount for families with a social services report affirming their need.
The new model established a tiered system with ten pricing bands according to families’ declared incomes, with a minimum quota of 50 euros a month through to a maximum fee of 395 euros a month. Other changes included a reduction for families with mid-to-low incomes, prices being determined exclusively according to income, the scrapping of the zero price band in place of the minim figure of 50 euros, and an increase in the price for families with relatively high incomes.
Improvements have been introduced since then, in line with the recommendations from the Barcelona Ombudsman. The most notable is the possibility of reviewing the pricing in supervening situations which affect families after the child in enrolled.