The “Bar Nursery at Smithfield House”, a central London childcare facility in partnership with Smithfield House Children’s Nursery, was launched on 16 April and will offer flexible childcare facilities near the Inns of Court at special rates to members of the Bar, chambers staff and Bar Council employees.
It will be open to children aged eight weeks to five years between 7am and 7pm, five days a week. The long opening hours are designed to help those juggling childcare responsibilities with ever-changing work schedules and court appearances. Emergency packages for those facing unexpected problems with existing childcare, or listed at short notice in court, will also be available.
Further nurseries may be set up outside London, similarly geared to the working lives of barristers with young children, depending on local demand and the support of the Circuits.
The Bar Nursery Association was established in 2008 and attracted the support of the Chairman of the Bar, the Attorney General, the Bar Council, the Circuits and the Inns. However, attempts to persuade individual Inns to rent their own premises to them failed. In 2010 the Bar Council took over the search for premises and providers nearby.
The 2011 Bar Council Exit Survey showed that over a quarter of women left because of childcare responsibilities.