To think change in childcare ratios will lower childcare standards

(526 Posts)
moogy1a Tue 29-Jan-13 08:17:34

Proposed change in ratios for nurseries and childminders means that some nurseries will almost double the number of children with the same number of staff.
How can this possibly improve childcare standards? Common sense says more children, less attention per child no matter how qualified the staff.
The proposal also seems to think this will lower costs. it won't. Costs per child will be the same but nursery profits will increase.
For CM's the ratios are also to increase. The whole point of CM's is that you can get out and about to parks / playgroups etc. How will that happen with 4 one year ols to transport?

notMarlene Tue 29-Jan-13 08:18:32

YANBU. Seems inevitable.

YANBU. The quality of care will reduce dramatically.

Tailtwister Tue 29-Jan-13 08:27:33

Yanbu. I think it's a crazy idea. I can see it widening the gap between rich and poor, with people paying more just to get a decent ratio and others just having to accept the changes and reduction in care.

RattyRoland Tue 29-Jan-13 08:29:39

Yanbu. It is ridiculous and will result in more accidents sad

mummybare Tue 29-Jan-13 08:30:45



Tanith Tue 29-Jan-13 08:36:09

Reduce their costs?!!

Reduce their staff more like!

This is playing straight into the hands of the big nursery chains. It will not reduce fees for parents. It will simply increase profits for the big childcare businesses. That's why they lobbied for it.

EmmelineGoulden Tue 29-Jan-13 08:37:32

YANBU to think it will lower childcare standards. YABU to think it won't lower costs - it's basic economics and has been seen to happen in industry after industry. There is no rational reason to think childcare will be different.

I agree with Tailtwister is right about it widening the gap between rich and poor.

Iggly Tue 29-Jan-13 08:39:11


It's about making money.

This government are the stupid kind of an idiot. I mean really. Because most if not all of their kids are/were looked after nannies, they don't give a shit. Research done under labour meant that great strides were made at improving prospects for young kids (the whole early years/sure starts stuff) and it's being dumped.

Whoever voted for this shambles of a shockingly selfish government should hang their heads in shame.

And don't give me the bollocks about austerity. We are not all in this together.

tiggytape Tue 29-Jan-13 08:40:44

YANBU - it is a safety issue as well as a standards issue. And the trade-off (that each staff member will have decent GCSE English and Maths grades) hardly compensates for this.

It will not reduce fees for parents. It will simply increase profits for the big childcare businesses.

Agree with this too. Just like when they said men and women's car insurance had to be equal. Did insurance prices lower costs for men - of course not, they just put them up for women. All that will happen if they change the ratios is nurseries will lay off staff or take more children without employing extra staff and rake in the profits.

Iggly Tue 29-Jan-13 08:41:50

I'm getting more angry the more I think about it.

We're talking about our children. The future. And we want to go the way of battery farming nurseries..?????

sleeplessbunny Tue 29-Jan-13 08:47:01

Agree with Tanith, this is highly unlikely to reduce costs to parents, it will simply increase profits for the big nurseries. And lower care standards sad

Not quite the same I realise, but it makes me think of one of my dad's childhood friends who became extremely rich on the back of elderly care homes in the 80s. The difference in living standard between him and the poor residents was deeply shocking when I realised what was going on (I was about 12).

CatelynStark Tue 29-Jan-13 08:50:24

This has enraged me too, even though my children don't need childminders anymore. How on earth can this lower the cost of childcare for working parents? It's just going to cause more stress all round!

Also, the raising of academic requirements for nursery staff?? I didn't give a flying fuck if my children's carers could deconstruct a sonnet!! I just wanted them to look after my babies!

It's outrageous!

Tailtwister Tue 29-Jan-13 08:54:19

It makes me angry too. Selfishly, I'm very glad my children are nearly out of their early childcare years and I'm extremely happy with the care they have received. However, I fail to see how someone can care for 4 young babies adequately. I do fear it will lead to accidents or even worse, simply because nobody has that many eyes in their head. If I had a young baby now, I would be worried all the time whilst I was at work with these proposed rations.

Is there anything we can do to stop these changes, or at least a more sensible approach?

Portofino Tue 29-Jan-13 08:55:45

YANBU - particularly when talking about small babies. On the other hand - my dd started Maternelle in Belgium aged 2.5, and there was one TEACHER for a class of 25 2.5 - 3.5 year olds. Dd loved it.

I was amazed at how they managed to do anything without spending all day in the toilet. But they did projects, trips out, painting, playing, baking etc. I think it true to say the level of training obviously makes a difference.

Tailtwister Tue 29-Jan-13 08:58:28

That's very interesting Portofino. Do you know what the ratio is for younger children?

dreamingofsun Tue 29-Jan-13 08:58:50

tighter controls over who can look after children would help. the only really bad childcare i had was a mother whose son had problems. so much of her time was spent supervising him that she couldn't deal with my kids properly.

when i complained to the council, and i said they should have made me aware of these issues they said, 'well she has to earn a living'.

redexpat Tue 29-Jan-13 08:59:20

I live in one of those countries that has fabulous childcare, and the CMs all have massive prams that 4 LOs can sit in. That's how they get out and about.

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 08:59:33

3 year olds if they have been potty trained would be fine even if numbers went up significantly,as long as wages rose for childcarers.

Under that age I dont think ratios should change.

NoisesOff Tue 29-Jan-13 09:01:01

YANBU. I know they're allowed more children per worker in many other European countries. I wonder what standards are like there?

TiggyD Tue 29-Jan-13 09:04:48


I hear the idea is only nurseries with well qualified staff will be able to raise ratios. That's good. Good staff will be more sought after meaning their wages should go up. That's good. Wonder how the wages will be paid? By not reducing fees at a guess.

There are times when numbers of staff count. Cuddles and hugs will drop by 12% for a baby. (As they will have 25% of a staff member each as opposed to 33%). It's harder to keep an eye on more children so bites, pushes and toy snatching will increase. 18 toddlers will have to be led out of a burning building by just 3 staff instead of 5.

"But France have 1:5 ratio for babies" they say. If France jumped off a cliff should we? It means we're better than France at looking after babies.

This is not good news.

sleeplessbunny Tue 29-Jan-13 09:07:34

Is it true that the European countries with higher ratios and good childcare provision generally have heavily state-subsidised or state-owned nurseries? I expect the total cost of the provision is at least as high as in the UK (due to better staff training), just that the state foots a lot of the bill.

My big problem with this change is that without tight controls, the money saved will go straight to the hands of the nursery owner, not the parents. Some nurseries round here have waiting lists months long, why would they lower their fees?

Iggly Tue 29-Jan-13 09:07:56

I remember being at DS's nursery and seeing younger babies being left to bawl their eyes out as the staff were either too busy or didn't "like" the child and thought it was just after attention <you think?> they were fine with the older babies. Bigger ratios will make it worse.

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 09:08:57

Portofino- Do you know if the carers in the Maternelle recieve a decent wage,or is still very low paid work?

StripeyBear Tue 29-Jan-13 09:09:08


However, I do think it is very fuelled by parent pressure for cheaper childcare. Lots of my friends and acquaintances have been going back to work after their first baby over the last few months, and the constant moan is about how expensive childcare is. We used to hire a nanny, so I think that makes you think about all the separate things you have to pay for when looking after a child (wages, employers NI, accountant to do your PAYE, covering sick pay, lunches, a cook, activities, toys, equipment, transport).

I have often got myself in trouble by pointing out that £45 for 10 hours childcare is pretty cheap, when you consider all the "inputs" in running a nursery. A number of people have explicitly come back saying that for over 2s ratios could be much higher.... of course, they usually don't have an over 2 wink

Our local preschool runs with a ratio of 1 (paid) adult to 10 over 3s - though people often forget about volunteer parents, students and the like in the room. However, a preschool is really different - it is meant to be a short burst of group activity - the children are still getting individual attention for most of the day from parents and other carers - and I think that is necessary for both practical stuff and emotional development.

Tweasels Tue 29-Jan-13 09:11:05

If the Government honestly believe that a person coming into childcare with a C in maths rather than a D is going to make them more capable of looking after double the children then they are even stupider than I thought.

Tailtwister is exactly right about widening the gap between rich and poor. It is classic Tory policy.

If they honestly believe this will make it easier for Women to go back to work they are Wong. It will add the stress of knowing that your child is less well looked after to the pressure of paying the fees.

StripeyBear Tue 29-Jan-13 09:12:41

Portofino that's interesting - can you tell us how long the sessions were? Did the children have to be toilet trained before they could start? I think a lot of 2 1/2 year olds wouldn't manage with the toilet alone.

mammmamia Tue 29-Jan-13 09:13:14

My initial reaction was one of horror and fear for safety and standards but I'd like to see the other side of the argument, can we hear more from people in other European countries who already have similar ratios?

If I wasn't convinced by the other side of the story I would seriously reconsider using a nursery or CM. I have toddler twins and I find it hard to manage them on my own, no idea how they would manage double that number!

I would also not be happy about babies receiving less attention, fewer cuddles etc.

moogy1a Tue 29-Jan-13 09:14:35

Elizabeth Truss ( the idiot whose idea this is) says that by having childcarers with better qualifications, parents will have the "confidence" to return to work knowing that their children are being taught basic literacy and numeracy.
Two things: how would more "teaching" go on with higher ratios; secondly, these are BABIES we're taking about ffs. How many people are really not going back to work because they're worried their 8 month old will not be taught spelling in nursery?

sleeplessbunny Tue 29-Jan-13 09:17:56

Does Ms Truss have kids? Sounds like she is quite out of touch. Better training, OK, but relevant training. C in GCSE English? How does that help???

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 09:20:39

There is no way they will go ahead with the C in Gcse English and Maths.The nurseries would lose too many staff members.

sleeplessbunny Tue 29-Jan-13 09:20:58

I too would be interested to hear more about your DD's experience at maternelle in France, Portofino.
I have always been slightly in awe of that system: free places, a bit like school but optional, and like you say, a whole class full of 2-3 yr olds. I presume they have to be toilet-trained though?

dreamingofsun Tue 29-Jan-13 09:23:47

all our carers were great, but not very academic. Except for one who proved herself to be a bitch who should never be allowed near kids - guess who would have had the grade 'c' maths and english.

Tweasels Tue 29-Jan-13 09:24:31

I'm assuming that better qualified staff would mean higher pay?

I'm a careers adviser and it tends to be lower academic ability (not general ability) students who train in childcare because those with B's who are interested in working with children would usually head toward a teaching route. Are they proposing to pay similar wages to teaching? I'd bet not.

If you want to pay someone not a whole lot more than NMW, you cannot increase their workload and expect them to be better qualified.

Good old Mr Cameron's get more for less ideology.

Mosman Tue 29-Jan-13 09:26:07

This would put me off using childcare of any kind, it's of a similar ratio in Australia to what is being proposed and it's pushed me over the brink to being a SAHM.

TiggyD Tue 29-Jan-13 09:27:42

Um...I didn't get C at GCSE English and I'm a nursery nurse. But there are some childcare workers out there who have difficulty talking in sentences and I worked with one who had trouble reading. You also need a level of English to write all the lovely reports and observations and to do the planning.

megandraper Tue 29-Jan-13 09:28:02

I don't think that academic qualifications show you who is good at looking after babies and toddlers. I'm all for more childcare training (if it is good).

I am fortunate enough to have a nanny 2 days a week while I work (actually cheaper than nursery because I have 3 small children) - no idea what her academic quals are, but she is very gentle, affectionate, careful and calm - and the children (especially the youngest) love her.

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 09:29:41

In a way they have already done that Tweasels.Under Labour we were told if you train as an EYP, which is a post graduate qualification,then there would be lots of 'graduate level' jobs available.However what really happened was they have made massive cuts to SureStart, and we are going backwards.

Bookwolf32 Tue 29-Jan-13 09:30:07

As a former nursery nurse, I know for a fact that this will impact care. Even with the current ratios it was hard to ensure the children had enough attention, especially if paperwork had to get done as well. This was a big reason for me no longer being a NN, I never felt I was able to give the attention I wanted.

Tweasels Tue 29-Jan-13 09:30:43

Absolutely right Tiggy. The fact that you didn't get a C does not mean you are any less capable. Using GCSE's as a marker of anything other than academic ability is nonsense.

Of course CC workers should be literate, but the functional skills as part of the training should cover that and be on a pass or fail basis.

LimelightsontheChristmastree Tue 29-Jan-13 09:38:22

It's a bad, ill-thought out, reactionary idea, which plays to the right-wing press and will piss off the left. It will have no impact on child-care costs. It will have an adverse effect on quality and safety. It will probably result in a reputational gap between 'BIG' nurseries and smaller providers and CMs (who I suspect Liz Truss thinks are just for 'poor people'). So far so ho-hum!

What I want to see is proof and a sense that this is all based on something solid and properly researched. So she's a big fan of child-care offered on the continent. Where is the research which shows us that it's better quality? Why is it better quality? What role does state subsidy and capping play? And what do our experts think? I want to hear from some of our early years academics and sector leaders.

At the moment this feels like someone's (i.e. Liz Truss's) pet politically skewed project.

And the idea that I as a parent will be happy as long as my 2 year old is learning literacy and numeracy is just laughable. Do I think that the early years work force deserves to be better paid and to have status attached to it? Do I think that there is a place for academically qualified staff? Yes I do. But this is different from wanting a 2 year old to learn to read and write. I want them to be safe and responded too. I want her learning/development to happen at her pace and in response to her interests etc. I want staff who are caring and able to do that. Which is on the whole what the EY sector already provides.

What is it that these proposals actually seek to achieve because I don't understand and I'm not a stupid person.

JaneGMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 29-Jan-13 09:39:00

Morning all,

Elizabeth Truss MP - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (education and childcare) has written a Mumsnet Bloggers' Network guest blog, outlining her proposed changes for early years childcare, so do take a look here.

The Minister will also be joining us for a webchat next Thursday, 7 February, 1pm-2pm so do watch this space so you can pose some questions.

Here's a summary of today's proposed changes:

The government plan to do this by relaxing the ratios of child to care worker with more highly educated carers.

The ratios will change as follows:

Children aged under 1 will change from 1 adult:3 babies to 1:4
Children aged 1 will change from 1:3 to 1:4
Children aged 2 will change from 1:4 to 1:6
Chidren aged 3+ will not changed - it's currently 1:8 (or 1:13 if led by a qualified teacher) and will remain the same

Currently in England childminders can have a maximum of 6 children under the age of 8, a maximum of 3 young children (until Sept 1 following their 5th bday) and a maximum of one child under one.

Proposed for England - childminders can have a maximum of 6 children under the age of 8, a maximum of 4 young children (until Sept 1 following their 5th bday) and a maximum of two children under one.

Local authority inspections will be dropped and quality will be assessed solely by Ofsted - not both Ofsted and local authority.

More early years teachers will work in childcare each with a degree.
All early years educators will be required to have at least a C grade in GCSE English and maths.

And finally, when we surveyed MNers in June 2012, we found that only 5% of you were in favour of relaxed ratios if it meant costs would be cut - do take a look here.


anewyear Tue 29-Jan-13 09:40:45

As a Childminder, I think anyone wanting to look after more than 6 children at anyone time is Mad!!
As a Pre School Practitioner, In my opinion we're already overloaded with paper work, certainly dont need any more..

TiggyD Tue 29-Jan-13 09:41:45

I think some people underestimate what you need to learn to be a well qualified childcare worker. You need to be able to pronounce Lev Vygotsky and understand what is meant by his zone of proximal development, Piaget's Socratic questioning, schemas, etc. It's not all cuddles and wiping things.

annh Tue 29-Jan-13 09:43:53

Well, it's a number of years ago but we lived in Netherlands when our boys were younger and I hope that NL is not one of the countries being held up as an example of how higher ratios don't affect quality of childcare because frankly the childcare there was s^&t!

DS1 went to a nursery a couple of days a week which had higher ratios of children to carers - he was 2.5 and I think it was 1:7 or it might even have been 1:8 and the only way the minders coped was by putting all the kids into their pyjamas at about 11.30, feeding them lunch and then putting them down for a nap until about 3 p.m., regardless of age. DS1 didn't nap so he spent much of that time just sitting around, being mostly ignored by the staff. There was no provision for the children who didn't sleep to do anything else.

There were far fewer toys or activities and he brought home very few drawings or craft projects from nursery, compared to what he was doing in the UK before moving. None of this seemed to be the exception in NL, from speaking to people and looking at other nurseries, the standards of care seemed to be much lower than we were used to. (To clarify for anyone who is familiar with the system of care there, I am talking about kinderopvang and not peuterspeelzaal.)

I also don't see any mention in the new proposals here of lessening the requirements on nursery staff to following a programme of learning for children such as I believe exists now (phonics, numbers etc) or a lessening of the paperwork in which everything has to be documented. I don't think it is a positive move.

CheeseStrawWars Tue 29-Jan-13 09:47:51

Logistical issues of 1 adult to 6 two year olds - what's happening with the other 5 when you're changing a nappy? Are you restraining the children in order to make it manageable, strapping them into high-chairs at mealtimes?

Ms Truss says that in Sweden they don't have ratios - but in Sweden kids don't starts school til they're 7, they're not worried about 'teaching' their kids - so the idea that someone's written English skills matter to a 2 year old is barmy.

I don't want an "early years educator" looking after my child, I want an "early years carer". The clue is in the name - childcare! I want compassion, empathy, understanding and patience. I couldn't give a flying fig for my child's keyworker's GCSE English grade.

NoHank Tue 29-Jan-13 09:48:37

I'm a childminder and whatever the changes I will not be upping my ratios or dropping my fees. Mainly because as someone pointed out earlier, the idea of trying to transport 4 under 3's to playgroups, parks etc makes me twitch. We currently get out and about every day, something I feel the children thrive on, as well as having the home care environment to relax and play in. Also I do not want to compromise on the care they currently recieve.

As for my fees, I barely break even as it is, what with the costs of food, fuel, activities, resources etc. If I were to earn any less I would quit and look for other employment.

LimelightsontheChristmastree Tue 29-Jan-13 09:50:46

I really think the qualifications thing is a red-herring or a best a sweetener. This is about cost cutting for the providers.

redexpat Tue 29-Jan-13 09:51:44

Here's what happens in Denmark.

Most childminders are employed by the state, and only look after 0-3 yrs. At 3 the children go to kindergarden, and there are breakfast and afterschool clubs at school.

Childminders usually have 4 to look after.

They are provided with a big pram that 4 LOs can sit in. Some also have Christiana bikes.

I pay 2500kr a month (about £300) and the rest is subsidised by the state. She earns 23.434 kr a month.

They have a 3 week training, and top ups every year.

There is a lot of cooperation between the CMs and nursery. If CM is sick, we take DS to the nursey instead.

The CMS in the village work together. They meet once a week at playroom.

LOs play outside everyday in all weathers. They sleep ouside in their prams too.

I have absolutely no qualms about leaving DS there, He LOVES it and has come on in leaps and bounds since he started.

I don't care if my son's carers have GCSE's.
I do care that there are enough staff to take him for a wee when he needs to go.

sleeplessbunny Tue 29-Jan-13 09:54:11

I just read Elizabeth Truss' mumsnet blog page (link upthread) and am more than a little concerned about this phrase:

"The quality of early years education has an enormous effect on a child – the gulf in mathematical ability that exists between teenagers in England and places like Singapore and Hong Kong is already evident by the time they are five."

I do agree that educational standards for maths and science need much improvement, but I hardly believe that maths hot-houses for the under fives is the right way to go. Cuddles and play-doh please, not algebra.

dreamingofsun Tue 29-Jan-13 09:54:55

redexpat - so they earn nearly 3k a month? Thats about 35k a year?

PeazlyPops Tue 29-Jan-13 09:55:21

I would much rather that ratios stay as they are, rather than increase and fees are reduced.

I'm feeling very wobbly about DS going to nursery as it is, and the ratios changing would mean I'd give up work and become a SAHM.

BlueberryInMyTummy Tue 29-Jan-13 09:56:31

I agree with StripeyBear - nursery seems to be fantastic value to me! At less than £5 per hour it's by far the cheapest "service" that I use being much much cheaper than a cleaner, gardener, hairdresser, exercise class, electrician, painter, builder, mechanic, the list goes on. Out of all of these, childcare carries the most responsibility and should be renumerated as such.

Forcing the staff to work harder in order to push costs down further, thus compromising the quality of childcare, is not an option for me.

BarbiesBeaver Tue 29-Jan-13 10:00:42

I am quite upset by these proposed changes. I already feel bad enough leaving my 1 year old at a childminder, but what makes it bearable is the fact that the childminder I leave her with has time to cuddle her, know when she needs a drink, nappy change, picking up, getting her to sleep, not smash her head in trying to walk, get biffed by older children and so on. If they have more children in these early years then the level of care and attention they need at this age will undoubtably decline. I can't see that costs will go down either. I don't care if the nurseery staff or CM have GCSE's; I care about whether they have the expertise and time to spend caring for my child.

I'm sure nursery staff and childminders are also dismayed to hear this news - more work for less pay, possible job cuts, safety implications of having more children to look after and keep safe and cared for.

I can see why this line of approach is appealing for the government - it means they can say they have tried to help out working families and reduce childcare costs without them actually having to do anything or cost anything to them. Any news on the tax relief of childcare costs?

Just confirms the politicians with their nannies or SAHM wives don't actually give a flying fuck about normal working families. Thanks for adding to my stress levels and making me feel even worse about having to work 4 days a week.

EasilyBored Tue 29-Jan-13 10:01:41

All the GCSEs and training in the world wont help you unless you can grow another pair of arms and eyes though. I'm not impressed at all, and this this is incredibly short sighted and naive. Prices will not go down, standards of care will.

NoHank Tue 29-Jan-13 10:02:00

I'm sure it was on here that I read that what most parents want from a childcare provider is their ability to give a matronly cuddle and know their way around a fish finger sandwich. Sorry for misquoting but I think the sentiment is right.

Nearly all parents I know, including myself, want to know their child is being loved and cared for, responded to when they are sad or in need and having some fun along the way. What they don't care about is how many developmental aspects they have met on the EYFS this month.

From what I can see, the point is to reduce costs by increasing ratio's but as already mentioned, I can't see this happening. Costs for nursery will remain the same but their profits will go up.

Viviennemary Tue 29-Jan-13 10:03:30

I think the quality of childcare will suffer. But the cost of childcare is getting unaffordable for more and more people.

EasilyBored Tue 29-Jan-13 10:04:01

Nursery is expensive if you look at the total cost, but the per hour charge is actually pretty reasonable when you consider that you are trusting them with the sole care of the most precious thing in your life. The problem is not that childcare is too expensive, it's that wages are too low.

LimelightsontheChristmastree Tue 29-Jan-13 10:05:18

Just read her blog and it just makes me want to underline my previous post. Where's her proof? She talks about 'excellent' childcare on the continent. What is excellent? Who says so? Why? This is all totally lacking in substance.

Smug picture too. Not that that matters...

HannahsSister40 Tue 29-Jan-13 10:06:51

this was a deciding factor in becoming a sahm for me, and that's before these new proposals. And before you say anything, yes I know not everyone can afford to be, or wants to be a sahm. In my opinion, right now before these new measures are introduced, nurseries are understaffed and many childminders have too many children. Why doesn't the government give families financial assistance so one parent can stay at home for part of all of the time in the early years, since that's what the vast majority of parents would prefer?

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 10:07:54

Why did Labour say there must be a degree staff member in each setting, then the present government say no that is no longer needed, and now they want to implement that again? confused

MarathonMama Tue 29-Jan-13 10:15:06

YANBU - this is a shocker.

I don't care whether the carers who look after DD (10mo) have a GCSE between them but I do care that one person will be looking after four babies. We weren't designed to look after more than two (hence two nipples) so how can this be right? Anyone with children who has taken time to care for them knows that looking after one or two babies PROPERLY is a full time job.

HannahsSister40 Tue 29-Jan-13 10:15:56

and as for these countries where childcare is super cheap and women are back at work within a month or two, its starting to unravel. There've been numerous reports arguing that many of these women feel forced back cos daycare is so affordable. They feel they have no other option. We're living in a world where women, who invariably provide the source of primary attachment, feel they must always subcontract out the job of parent elsewhere

PolkadotCircus Tue 29-Jan-13 10:17:50

Yanbu I think it's appalling and yet another example of the way this gov doesn't live in the real world and just continuously makes ill thought out policies that time and time again penalise children.

I speak as a mother of 3 under 18 months,an ex Outstanding childminder and an ex primary teacher with a degree in early years and literature.

As a mother and well skilled early years practitioner I would often weep with frustration at what I couldn't do with my own children having the 1 to 3 ratio.It is not ideal at all and they want to stretch it further!Aside from quality of the logistics of nappy changing,cuddles,quality of play,attention,language ops,etc there is a safety issue. You literally need eyes in the back of your head something which a GCSE in Eng and maths isn't going to improve on.

Then there is a square footage issue.Are childminders and nurseries going to move to bigger premises? I think not so we'll have more children squashed into areas already not big enough.We'll see childminders with even bigger gaggles of children on the school run(over 8s had little number restrictions).We'll have practitioners doing less outdoor,community based activities because it'll be riskier with higher ratios( I for one wouldn't be taking bigger numbers of toddlers out alone along a busy high street or to a play park).

The reason I was Outstanding was because I kept my numbers low knowing my capabilities and preferring to give top notch care and attention to the few children I had.I was also aware of the limitations of my house.Not all Childminders have the same attitude and for some the " business" comes first ie bang for buck.

Practitioners will still need to spend the same on heating,resources,electricity and time on paperwork.In fact with more children there will be even more paperwork if EYFS is to be done properly.

Finally mothers or fathers often want to be able to spend the formative years with their children. Being cared for by a parent in their own home with access to a good pre school is preferable for most children but absolutely nothing is done to enable or help parents who want to to do this-nothing,in some cases mothers are actually penalised for doing it.

The needs of children are just being hammered continuously so now instead of helping children be in their own homes the gov are introducing a pile em high keep it cheap policy which will bring in a 2 tier system and childcare they would never dream in a million years of using. The richer parents will choose practitioners who continue to keep numbers low (I would)or the best option a nanny so it'll be the poorer parents lumbered with the lesser quality care.

And re other countries you know what every country is different.The French raise children very differently and far more formally so it may well be easier to manage large numbers of small children.Is the French way better for our children,where is the consistent research to show this?Maybe costs are reduced for parents in other countries because the gov puts more money in,in our country support for practisers is actually being slashed.

Apologies for the rant but I just feel this is yet another example of how children in this country are placed rock bottom on the list of priorities.All the gov care about is money not what is actually best for children and it is so,so sad as yet again it won't be rich children effected by this will it.

inthewildernessbuild Tue 29-Jan-13 10:20:18

YANBU. I think the state should be subsidizing all nurseries to employ more people with higher educational attainment,as well as maintaining current ratios. It is nonsense to think that if you will any better at coping with four little ones just because you have a C.

Having had three children under two years in my care (twin and toddler) I can assure you that even graduates find it difficult to give the attention the babies need. Yes, babies gain a lot from the presence of other children, it is fun for them to be with other children etc etc, but they need an adult to talk to, 1:1 for speech development and all sorts of other things, not just the practicalities of changing nappies, comforting, dealing with disruption.

What will they do if one child with undiagnosed SEN or behavioural issues comes into this set-up? How are they going to manage him/her when they run amok? And surely this is exactly where the cortisol related, behavioural anxiety stuff is going to begn, for SOME children who are vulnerable already. Even if you know what you should be doing (if you are highly trained) you might not get the TIME to do it with those children.

I feel very sad. My son has late diagnosed ASD (aged 8), and I am just so relieved I never sent hm to nursery until he had learnt as much as he could in a 1:1 setting, and got as much S & L reinforcement and attachment as he possibly could. He went to termtime morning nursery at 3 and loved it and had no issues there, except playing too often with the trainsets!

Mosman Tue 29-Jan-13 10:20:37

I remember standing at the entrance of the baby room watching one member of staff surrounded by 11 under 1's because one member of staff was fetching something and another was changing nappies so it's naive to think these situations don't happen already. We didn't go back after that, this was a state run nursery attached to a college in the UK.
This proposal can only make a bad situation worse though.

getoffthecoffeetable Tue 29-Jan-13 10:21:33

I think the proposed changes are disgusting. I already feel bad about leaving DS while I go to work but feel reassured by the level of care he receives which can only be due to the high ratio of staff to children.
If the ratios changed it would make me seriously consider pulling DS from nursery altogether.
Have signed and shared the petition.

PolkadotCircus Tue 29-Jan-13 10:22:48

Oh is there a petition,can you link?

imogengladhart Tue 29-Jan-13 10:23:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PolkadotCircus Tue 29-Jan-13 10:25:14

I know Imogen why are we parents just no longer deemed good enough to look after our own children or helped to do so?

HannahsSister40 Tue 29-Jan-13 10:26:52

that's fine if you're a highly paid QC like Cherie, but for the vast majority of men and women, earning somewhere around national average salary, it would probably be more helpful to offer assistance for them to look after their own children at home. Cherie doesn't mention that for most children, this is a far far better scenario.

inthewildernessbuild Tue 29-Jan-13 10:27:27

Oh yes, and the v structured (lovely) Montessori where my child went had a proportion of French children whose parents were insistent that they would "behave" and believed the longer nursery day was good for them. They always signed them up for full day in comparison to most English parents. Are we wishy washy or do we just like spending more time wth our children?? Some of those children were extremely badly behaved whatever was expected of them. The restrictions of small space and not much exercise did not SUIT. Yet the parents did not adjust their viewpoint, and just expected the children to fit in. There is a danger in assuming that some nursery settings are beneficial to some children at all.

Poor kids they cannot tell us what they NEED. We are told this is good for them, or that is good for us, but I wonder whether a lot of their needs are being glossed over in pursuit of what suits us.

BarbiesBeaver Tue 29-Jan-13 10:28:38

Seems to be a unanimous negative response to this proposal. No doubt they will still go ahead with it, because this crappy sticking plaster solution to the problem of affording childcare is a lot easier and cheaper than dealing with the real reasons people can not afford childcare - extortionate fuel and food costs, disproportionately low wages, sky high mortgages on small houses, I could go on.

Great post as well Polka.

imogengladhart Tue 29-Jan-13 10:34:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

dreamingofsun Tue 29-Jan-13 10:42:56

imogen - your suggestion affects mothers earning average salaries who want to stay at home and look after their kids.

Mothers who earn above average wages wouldn't be offered enough money to enable them to give up work and would be expected to subsidise this initiative.

And at the risk of being shouted at....its those parents who earn above average wages who are most likely to be more highly educated and therefore have the most to offer children as a role model.

so no i don't think everyone would want to see MN push this.

EasilyBored Tue 29-Jan-13 10:47:59

I would be more in favour of measures that forced businesses to allow more flexible working patterns, job shares and more part-time positions for both parents and carers. Rather than subsidising so that one parent can stay home full time.

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Tue 29-Jan-13 10:49:16

A quick reading of part of the report shows that childminders don't HAVE to increase their numbers to 4 AND the total numbers still remain 6 under the age of 8. Is that the case?

Patiencedeficit Tue 29-Jan-13 10:49:51

This is an ill thought out idea which compromises safety and child development. I would much rather the ratios stayed as they are. This will NOT save parents any money but will line the pockets of nurseries and childminders. In nurseries they will simply slash the number of people they employ to increase profits. Where are the measures here to ensure child welfare?
This will also push up the cost of nannies - where parents are now unhappy for their children to be essentially battery farmed there is no other option but to either give up work or pay for a nanny.
We need a MN backlash.

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Tue 29-Jan-13 10:52:48

grin at "line the pockets of ... childminders"

Oh I wish!

PolkadotCircus Tue 29-Jan-13 10:57:18

Easily exactly.

My sister and her husband both reduced their hours by 1 day each I think and then they shared a nanny with another family which they only needed for 3 days a week.

It was absolutely brilliant.Said nanny took them to the local pre-school,toddler groups etc and they got 1to2 in their own home.They picked up fewer bugs and when they were ill it wasn't so disruptive.It cut down on stress as they could both just walk out of a morning and they didn't have to take them anywhere.The children got more sleep and the security if their own home plus diss and dbil both got 3 days a week with their dc.

It was a brilliant arrangement, dsis works for a charity and bil the local council so it obviously relied on employers being flexible.

LimelightsontheChristmastree Tue 29-Jan-13 10:57:28

I don't understand why we're talking about Cherie Blair? Did I miss a news story?

I think we have had an overwhelmingly negative response to these plans because the linking of ratios to qualifications and to affordability issues and 'what parents want' from their providers is dodgy at best.

I don't think that the solution is necessarily to enable parents to stay in the home for longer, simply because this isn't appropriate for all families or indeed wanted. That is for a different thread surely?

I started thinking that the government really have no overall plan for anything do they, they're just bouncing from set of headlines to the next...

It wasn't so very long ago they were announcing more early years free provision for low income families to (allegedly) help improve those kids' development and early education. Now those very same kids are presumably going to receive less attention due to bigger ratios, so their development and early education will suffer.

Hmm.. or maybe that means that the low income mothers are then forced to put their children into the free childcare so they have to accept a WorkFare scheme or similar.
Yep, that works as a Tory overall plan.

And fits with this article, whilst neatly solving the floorspace issue of increased numbers at each nursery. And takes the money away from the bloody brilliant SureStart centres and puts it into the hands of private nursery chains. Genius plan all round.

Portofino Tue 29-Jan-13 10:57:49

Sorry - a bit late coming back. Re. the Belgian maternelle - yes they do need to be potty trained. The teacher - is just that - a degree educated profession in early years education. She/he would be on teacher salary. It is SCHOOL - not childcare per se.

There are other helpers who supervise lunchtime and naptime etc. It is fulltime - like school. 8.30 - til 3. I think it is possible to do mornings only at the beginning, but they are expected to go every day. It is more like a nursery school setting though - learning through play - no formal lessons, reading, writing, etc. Though in 3rd year they learn letters / numbers and how to write their name etc.

And it is FREE! It is not compulsory but it has a 99% take up rate. Creches here only take children til 3 ususally. There are state subsidised ones where your income is taken into account. and more expensive private ones. The ratios are indeed higher than the UK.

So generally I would have been LESS happy for dd to go to a Belgian creche, but I LOVE the maternelle system. The dcs are more ready for formal learning when it starts - toiletted, socialised, know how to sit still, eat lunch etc in a school setting. They seemed to have lots of fun too. The teachers I have dealt with have all been strict and well organised, but friendly and kind also.

"YABU to think it won't lower costs - it's basic economics and has been seen to happen in industry after industry"

It will lower costs, and nurseries will use this towards increasing profits, which at the moment are amazingly low, given the cost to parents.

Apparently one in four nurseries is currently making a loss. Owners of profit making nurseries draw an average salary of 13.5K from their businesses.

I'd bet my bottom dollar on this not reducing costs to parents in any significant way.

"What will they do if one child with undiagnosed SEN or behavioural issues comes into this set-up?"

Never mind 'if' - there will be children with undiagnosed SEN and behavioural issues in all nurseries. And these children will pitch up in primary and teachers will have to deal with the fall out.


FW12 Tue 29-Jan-13 11:07:06

I lived in Belgium and my oldest son attended the maternelle class in the local state school from 2.5-4 years (2003-2005). All children had to be toilet trained when they started but took a spare set of clothes in case of accidents which were fairly frequent at first! He was in a class of 20-25 children of same age with one teacher and one helper. All the children stayed from 9-3.30pm and had a 3 course lunch and a nap after lunch. As the children got older there was less napping and more quiet play!

There was also the option of the Guarderie before and after school from approx 7.30am-6.30pm. We paid about 50 euros a month for school dinners and the Guarderie, whether you used it or not. The advantage was you did not need to book in, so if you were running late,your child was just taken to the Guarderie with all the other children not picked up. I also once left him for a day in half term which cost me 60 cents for the day. Obviously this must have been subsided but also paid for because all parents in the school paid it (justification was Guarderie staff looked after the children during the teachers' lunchbreak).
The emphasis was on developing fine and gross motor skills so my son painted fantastic pictures, made lovely crafts to bring home and danced, sang and plenty of outside play etc. He did not learn his numbers or letters or reading or writing but when we returned to the UK & he started in Reception he had the skills to pick these up quickly.

His teachers were lovely and professional, we lived opposite the school so they brought the whole class over to our garden a couple of times each year (without red tape and multiple permission slips!) My son remembers these days fondly although admits he found it hard as only French was spoken!

My middle son was born in Belgium and attended a private nursery from the age of 7 months (this was quite old, most babies went into nursery from 3-4 months). Although interestingly working mums often coincided their second maternity leave with the time the older child started school at 2.5 so they had time home with the baby and were able to ease the older one gently to school. I also noticed husbands and grandparents all took their turn picking up and dropping off which is not always the case here.

I do not remember the staff ratios for the nursery, I think it varied depending on the nursery and there were different options. We went for private because it was English speaking and probably more expensive with higher ratios. We also used the equivalent of a playgroup (morning sessions from 18mths to 2.5yrs) before my oldest son started school.

I never used, but was aware, of a number of different childcare options from child minders, state run creches and drop in centre that you could leave even young babies for a few hours eg if you had a dental appointment or needed to go shopping. I think the costs varied and there were creches that were more sought after and those less so, however my overall impression was child care was run by qualified professionals with some state control and a range of affordable options.

It was a shock returning to the UK and finding school's wrap around care was so expensive, the options for pre-schoolers was a full-time nursery or a morning playgroup session with nothing much in between. It was virtually impossible to work part-time so I took a career break and only returned to work when my third child started at school aged 4. Having experienced both systems I found the Belgian one much more flexible and affordable. However we were expats and living a comfortable life. I know some of the Belgium mum's found the pressure to return to work (because of cultural expectations and financial needs) hard when their children were young.

On balance however I felt the Belgian system offered more choice than the British and I think we should look for ways the British system can adapt good practice such as I was lucky enough to experience in Belgium. I am unsure whether the current proposals are aiming for this but from talking to friends who run nurseries, any proposals that cut red tape and recognise (financially) the professionalism of those who look after our children when we work should be welcomed.
Sorry for the long post....

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 11:08:41

The difference would be portofino that in include most nursery staff have to do the food,food prep,nappies and all other admin whilst at work,and the children are there 8-6.Its a lot more work in English settings.

tiggytape Tue 29-Jan-13 11:09:41

YABU to think it won't lower costs - it's basic economics and has been seen to happen in industry after industry

Of course it will lower costs
But it won't lower the fees that parents pay

The nurseries will make more profit from having more children and fewer staff. Many settings have waiting lists a mile long. Why would they lower their fees when people are literally queuing up to pay what they ask?

imogengladhart Tue 29-Jan-13 11:12:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

notjustamummythankyou Tue 29-Jan-13 11:12:53

I was sent a link to the petition by this morning.

You can find the petition here .

I agree that fees aren't going to fall and children will suffer. Especially the very young babies. Dd3 went to nursery full time from just over a year. 1 to 3 is the same ratio she got at home grin albeit with children her age instead of older siblings. She was fine with that. I think dropping that to 1 to 4 is a backward step in terms of providing the care and stimulation young babies need.
I'm also concerned to see that there will be change to the role of the local authority.

dreamingofsun Tue 29-Jan-13 11:16:26

agreed imogen. but where would all the money come from to subsidise the parents so they could give up work - especially the higher earners? I would have loved to have given up work - but i just can't see there being enough money around other than to pay fairly small amounts of money that wouldn't make any difference to higher earners.

PolkadotCircus Tue 29-Jan-13 11:17:15


That is pretty much every waking minute for some babies/toddlers and they want to reduce the attention/ cuddles they get even further whilst raising the stress levels.


Kaekae Tue 29-Jan-13 11:19:22

YRNBU This seriously worries me.

Kaekae Tue 29-Jan-13 11:21:30

* YANBU..silly phone!

imogengladhart Tue 29-Jan-13 11:21:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

katinkabysheen Tue 29-Jan-13 11:22:11

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

imogengladhart Tue 29-Jan-13 11:24:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WilsonFrickett Tue 29-Jan-13 11:24:09

I think there's a real difference between 0 - 3 care and 3 - 5 care. I'd be extremely unhappy at any change to ratios for baby care - they don't need to be doing maths and they don't need workers with academic qualifications (and what about the mothers without a C at GCSE, are we going to start introducing exams for them too?). What under-3's need in a childcare setting is safety, security, fun, cuddles, food and naps. Any change to ratios would compromise this.

I'm perhaps a bit more open minded about older children in a pre-school setting. However, there seems to be an assumption that most nursery workers aren't qualified - every single person in my DS nursery was either qualified or working towards their qualifications so I'm a bit confused about this point.

Finally, this won't cut costs, it will raise profits and I suspect it won't raise wages either.

TheProvincialLady Tue 29-Jan-13 11:24:18

I have postgraduate qualifications - how that would enable me to look after 4 babies is unclear. No one could possibly look after 4 babies without there being an awful lot of crying, nappies going unchanged and a lack of cuddles and playingsad

This Government gets more stupid and reactionary with every badly thought out policy it comes out with. The damage it has done to our education system, economy and children's futures is astonishing and will take many, many years to unravel and put right. They are flailing around, desperately chasing votes and uncaring of who is affected because basically, it won't be them or anyone they know. We are not real people to them.

peacefuleasyfeeling Tue 29-Jan-13 11:30:00

I am in favour of higher taxation as an answer to most of society's short-comings, and childcare is no exception. In Sweden childcare is subsidised by the government (through sensible and socially responsible taxation) and my experience was a very positive one. Staff have the equivalent of a degree in early years education, hang about, it IS a degree. It is not a primary teaching qualification, it is a qualification specific to caring for children of nursery age. And it is a respected and well regarded profession.

BarbiesBeaver Tue 29-Jan-13 11:30:47

yy Provincial. These are real people with real lives they are experimenting with. We should be protecting some of the most vulnerable members of society - babies who can not tell us they are lonely, tired, ill, hungry - not exposing them to more risks and less care and attention.

nannynick Tue 29-Jan-13 11:31:56

Let Government know your views - Consultation: Education and childcare staff deployment (ends 25 March 2013)

Filmbuffmum Tue 29-Jan-13 11:32:54

Apologies if anyone has already asked this- but I think the big question with regard to lowering costs, is whether this will eventually lead to a decrease in the amount paid by the Government for the 15 free hours currently provided to 3-4 year olds (and some vulnerable 2 year olds)? If the changed proposed lead to childminders and nurseries increasing the number of children on their books without increasing staff numbers, I am sure this will increase profits for some of the larger private nurseries in the short term (but probably not for the smaller charity run preschools etc). However the cynic in me fears that before long the Government will suggest that if settings can decrease their staff numbers or take more children, that it will be financially reasonable to lower the hourly rate paid (currently only £3.70).

peacefuleasyfeeling Tue 29-Jan-13 11:37:14

I should say that I don't mention the early years education qualifications of Swedish early years practitioners because I believe we necessarily need to emulate this system; DDs nursery staff are very competent, kind and caring without having degrees (although a couple have left this year to start teacher training, having done A-levels part-time as mature students). I just noticed that the difference in how this kind of work is regarded is marked.

BarbiesBeaver Tue 29-Jan-13 11:46:28

Filmbuffmum, I have no doubt that these free hours will be scrapped fairly soon, or there will be some complicated system of qualifying for them meaning hardly anyone will be entitled to them. I am happy to be corrected on this...

PolkadotCircus Tue 29-Jan-13 11:51:47

So is anybody other than the gov and nursery chains in favour of this?confused

Does anybody in power actually listen to the mothers of children these days or are children just figures now?

FilmBuff that was what my incoherent ramblings were about!
The way I see it, they're seeking to put in place legislation which will enable nurseries to expand both their footprint and numbers of attendees, and reduce staff. This will mean government funded childcare will become 'lowest common denominator' childcare, of poor ratios of care at large, overcrowded nurseries, paid for by the government at a low rate.
The next step, presumably, is to make accepting that sub-standard childcare semi-compulsory in order to get women back into WorkFare placements etc.

stormforce10 Tue 29-Jan-13 11:53:25

My friend has a degree in maths and 8 month old triplets. She really struggles to manage without help. I am very unclear as to how a GCSE in English and maths will help look after tiny babies.

Elizabeth Truss if you're reading (and maybe you are) perhaps you could explain it to us. Does trigonometry help change nappies? Does a knowledge of Shakespeare enhance one's ability to sing Old MacDonald and Humpty Dumpty? Will the understanding of a difference between the different types of apostrophe make it easier to help a 3 year old with their letters?

I want a child carer with compassion, common sense, patience, kindness in abundance and a loving caring and warm personality. If they have an A in GCSE maths I really do not care. I want them to have enough time to give DS the love and security he needs. I want his nappy changed regulary and as required. I want him not to be battling with other babies for affection. I want him to be fed and cuddled. I want his tears wiped if he falls and his face wiped after he eats. I want him to be secure happy and safe

Please drop these silly plans for the sake of our children. I've signed the petition and emailed my MP to make my views known

shellshock7 Tue 29-Jan-13 11:53:48

DS 10m was supposed to start nursery this month, but never got passed the settling in hours as I saw that the level of care I think a child his age requires just cant be provided at the current ratios, let alone an increase shock

As a PP stated, babies are left crying because, thru no fault of the nursery, one adult simply cannot comfort three babies. If this was to come in I would think a lot of mothers will consider of which could see a return to a lot more SAHM, I wonder if the govt has considered the impact that would have on the economy?

piprabbit Tue 29-Jan-13 11:53:56

Thanks for the link nannychick - I've been sharing it around.

piprabbit Tue 29-Jan-13 11:55:02

Great post stormforce10

theaub Tue 29-Jan-13 11:56:34


This makes me furious. The millionaire politicians bodging this idea together would never DREAM of using this level of care for their own kids. As other posters have said, they have nannies or their wives are SAHMs (who may well also have nannies to help). they have absolutely no idea of how normal people have to live. (But that goes for the effect on us of loads of the different public services they are cutting, not just this latest wheeze to help the owners of big chain nurseries..)

For those of you wanting to take action on this: Best place to register your views so they are not able to ignore them is by responding to the public consultatiion on dept for education website:

Petitions etc are good but can be easily dismissed as the views of an organised minority by those in power.. and unless accompanied by big media coverage may not have much impact on decision-makers.

I used to work in public affairs so apologies if this is an annoying grannies/egg-sucking post. Just don't see the merit in this proposal for children at all and desperately hope it is not implemented.

lynniep Tue 29-Jan-13 11:58:44

I so strongly disagree with these plans I'm fuming - as are the staff at the nurseries my children attend/have attended in the past. I've always had a bee in my bonnet about ratios anyway.

SamSmalaidh Tue 29-Jan-13 12:00:48

INSANE that they want to increase the numbers of babies in ratio but not 3 and 4 year olds! I feel 1:3 is already too much for under 1s. Maybe making the ratio for 1-2year olds 1:4 and 3-4year olds 1:10 would be ok, but 1:6 2 year olds is unreasonable imo.

SamSmalaidh Tue 29-Jan-13 12:02:41

And nursery care in countries like France and Belgium where you have many babies per adult is really not that great, and most people used to British nurseries would find it quite shocking I think. Much less contact and attention between adults and babies, but less crying as babies learn not to expect a reaction.

BadMissM Tue 29-Jan-13 12:04:58

I think they are bad enough as it is. DD was in creche/nursery in France....where it was heavily subsidised (I paid about £15 per week for fulltime, 7-6 care...), and the care standards were excellent. They weren't private providers, they were state funded and trained and guaranteed. We need that here. Ratios were tiny compared to UK.

We need more staff, not less. We need state-provided reasonable/funded childcare if they insist we all work.

So, now they've wrung the maximum profit out of the sick, the disabled, the unemployed, the benefit claimants, the elderly, those with special needs, to profit their 'private provider' friends.... they are going to start on the children?

I'm currently pregnant, and my child won't be going near any of their private provider 'nurseries' if I can help it...

morethanpotatoprints Tue 29-Jan-13 12:05:55


It is pretty much the same now in terms of Maths and English GCSE. Of course they need these vital qualifications if you are working and teaching children.
My friend teaches Early Years at a FE college, she says the level of English is appalling and really not suitable at all. These are students who have a grade c at GCSE. I also experienced this myself and refused to allow my dc to attend such places. So an improvement of the general education of child care workers should be encouraged surely.

BadMissM Tue 29-Jan-13 12:08:08

In France they also have Doctors, Paediatricians, Community Nurses attched to the creches. Workers are often not only nursery, but medically trained. The director of my daughter's creche was a paediatrician in her own right, and hands-on. The facilities were also scrupulously clean, well-designed and up-to-date.

domesticslattern Tue 29-Jan-13 12:09:46

I'm really unhappy about this as I am about to put my DD2 (1) into nursery. She may be a neglected second born - and I would have gone for a nanny if I could have afforded it like every Cabinet member - but I still want her to be fed, changed and held at least some of the time.

At the moment her nursery (which is for 0-2 year olds) has one adult for three babies. That sounds pretty hectic. Changing it to one to four sounds really stressful to me. Have you tried looking after quads, Minister? Even if you just think about changing four nappies every three hours, how the hell do you feed them all at once? Pass all those beakers? Comfort them when they fall over? These are babies who need hugs, not teaching literacy etc.

I think that the Tories are utterly utterly out of touch. I really hope that these proposals are not implemented.

kerstina Tue 29-Jan-13 12:21:27

YANBU! I feel really cross about this! I am a B.T.E.C qualified nursery nurse. I have 6 0'levels (taken in the late 80's when they were harder grin ) I got an A grade in English language and failed maths. So someone like me would not be able to get a job as a nursery nurse?

breadandbutterfly Tue 29-Jan-13 12:22:43

We need higher paid childcarers who are good at what they do - I was shocked by some of the appalling 16 year olds who looked after my ds in nursery. A C grade wouldn't have made them better motivated or better at theor jobs but maybe would have meant they could have qualified for another job they hated less! I don't think we want childcare to be the job people do because they are too thick or lazy to do anything else. (Which was my experience.)

We should have subsidized childcare but to me having more educated and beeter paid staff is more important than the ratios - I'm not sure 3 carers in a room who really love their job and are paid well (or at least reasonably relative to the responsibility) isn't better than 4 carers in a room paid minimum wage who don't care but know they can't get any other jobs.

zebedeethezebra Tue 29-Jan-13 12:24:49

The changes in ratios will not make a jot of difference to fees. Nurseries will simply lay of the staff they don't need anymore and make more profit.

breadandbutterfly Tue 29-Jan-13 12:25:06

Not that this would save money, though or make childcare cheaper - 3 carers @ 20K = 4 carers @ 15K. Still costs 60K in wages. But I suspect happier carers and better looked after children.

Obviously, better if govt subsidizes it by 20K, so we can have 4 carers at 20K!

LimelightsontheChristmastree Tue 29-Jan-13 12:25:12

A small amount of light relief! From the politics newsfeed on the Guardian site:

'On Twitter someone has been giving me grief for not posting any positive reaction to the Truss childcare announcement.

If I had found any this morning, I would have posted it already. But I haven't.'


breadandbutterfly Tue 29-Jan-13 12:26:16

kerstina - you should be able to take an equivalent maths qual now. And pass - easier now.

TryDrawing Tue 29-Jan-13 12:31:23

A friend of mine has three children under 3. She also has an abusive, unfaithful husband. She is trapped at home because they cannot afford childcare for even one of their children, let alone all three. The single thing that would make the biggest difference to her life is properly subsidised childcare .

She would be able to get a job, regain some small measure of independence, and perhaps begin to rebuild her self esteem to the point where she wouldn't feel she had to submit to her husband's financial, emotional and sexual abuse.

I feel so lucky that I am able to earn enough that dh and I should be able to pay for childcare for as many children as we choose to have. Or I can choose to stay at home. Or he can. The point is that we have that choice. Many don't.

As I have seen others on MN mention, we really have to look at what kind of society we want. As it is usually mothers who end up staying at home with children, do we as a society recoup our investment in their education? Would it make more sense to just not educate women, if so many are to be excluded from the job market?

The friend I mentioned, for example has a master's degree. Her education was free to her, but cost this country money. If she has to stay at home, and cannot earn and pay tax, what was the logic in paying for that education?

I agree that the changes proposed will only serve to increase the profits of larger childcare providers. If the government really wanted to make any significant difference to parents, they would be announcing subsidised childcare, not this half-arsed headline-grabbing nonsense.

Mosman Tue 29-Jan-13 12:35:37

one of which could see a return to a lot more SAHM, I wonder if the govt has considered the impact that would have on the economy?

More jobs for the boys for example which is no doubt a deliberate Tory policy.

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 12:37:56

There will never be a day when nursery staff get paid 20k.Hardly any get paid 15k either.

I feel a sense of relief that dh and I are done having babies and dd3 is at school. This government has nothing to offer me and my children.

I will be interested to see if the minister actually shows up for the web chat next week. Judging by the reaction so far she'll be in for a pasting.

Glimpers Tue 29-Jan-13 12:44:11

But how much of this is pressure from people who, yet again, have children without considering the expense, and then expect someone else/ the government to bail them out.
Me and DH held out out having DD2, until DD1 was in school full time, as we knew we couldn't afford to have both in full time childcare. We didn't expect anyone to help us out, with something that was our choice.
We use a fantastic CM, who now has DD2 all day, and DD1 before and after school, and she isn't increasing her numbers, and we are happy paying her current prices and wouldn't expect her to drop her costs. She still has to earn a living, just like me and DH do, hence why we go to work.
This would have happened under a Labour government as well as a Tory one, the main issue being that this government has to try and cost cut as much as possible after the utter debacle that the last lot left us in.

TryDrawing Tue 29-Jan-13 12:47:43

Also, this:


I want a child carer with compassion, common sense, patience, kindness in abundance and a loving caring and warm personality. If they have an A in GCSE maths I really do not care. I want them to have enough time to give DS the love and security he needs. I want his nappy changed regulary and as required. I want him not to be battling with other babies for affection. I want him to be fed and cuddled. I want his tears wiped if he falls and his face wiped after he eats. I want him to be secure happy and safe

soundevenfruity Tue 29-Jan-13 12:47:43

I think they are going to do to childcare what they did to nursing. The most important criteria should be that people enjoy working with children and genuinely want to look after them. Looking at a lot of nurseries with their awkward and tiny buildings they should be introducing square footage per child not reducing number of people looking after them. The only reason they want children to learn reading and writing at even an earlier age is because it is much easier to measure and report that than true purposes of pre-school education, such as social awareness, ability to get along with others and enjoy learning something together, developing creativity and physical confidence etc. If I saw a bright nursery with large rooms (with separate space for rest), kitchen, enthusiastic staff that are attentive to children's needs and know how develop children socially, lots of activities, creative, sporty, big outdoor space - that's what would allow me to return to work. That and nurseries that are not open at 9 and close at 3 because I don't know anyone whose job would allow that.

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 12:47:50

Glimpers you must be pretty well off to be able to afford childcare for even one child.

Muddles2 Tue 29-Jan-13 12:48:22

The contrast between the FREE école maternelle my eldest dd went to in Paris, and the EXPENSIVE British nursery school her sister went to in the UK was appalling even though the UK school was highly rated in the area. The École Maternelle won by miles even though there were 30 in the class. Why? Because the teacher in France was highly trained and extremely well supported by an ASSISTANTE who cared for all the children's social and personal needs. E.G. The bathrooms in the UK nursery were filthy as children were supposed to take themselves whether they were capable or not. In France the 'assistante' was there for all those needs and provided such firm but gentle friendly care to all her charges. My eldest dd is the only one of my 3 who holds her pencil properly, automatically washes her hands etc.
A friend visited us in France with her four-year old who had been taught to read. Disconcerted, I asked my dd's French teacher if I should be worried as my dd was one of the older children in the class and very behind her English peers. She replied 'C'est un enfant qui a énormément besoin de jouer' (= she is a child who has an enormous need to play). She was SO right. She had got the measure of my dd (who by the way is highly intelligent) and I have been grateful for that comment ever since.
I think the ´ECOLE MATERNELLE' is an excellent model to adapt to British needs, though the quality and education of the teachers and assistants employed in them is of paramount importance.
'STRUCTURE' should not be a bad word. If children don't get enough structure at home, they should at least get it as early as possible at nursery school. Good structure should, hopefully, enable the time to offer the care, education and affection that children need.
Oh, and how about adapting the excellent French model of 'ASSISTANTES' - whose job really is to roll up their sleeves and get their hands grubby - by employing at least one assistant in every school whose first language is SPANISH and asking them to sing songs with the children and chat to them in the playground only in that language?

Jelly15 Tue 29-Jan-13 12:49:21

I am a CM and I will be sticking to the current ratios. These original ratios were not plucked out of the air, they were brought in to ensure children are safe and have the necessery attention from the childcarer. Childcarers have only one pair of hands and one pair of eyes each.

My costs have remained the same for three years due to the economic climate but my utilities have increased and if I did increase my ratio I would them have to fork out on a nrw verchile, new pushchair system, more car seats and an extra child still needs feeding and trips to playgroups etc.

I think the only benifit will be to nursery owners who will employ less staff and even if the staff has a wealth of qualifications the owners are not going to increase their pay.

Seriously this government is stupid.

SamSmalaidh Tue 29-Jan-13 12:54:09

meadow - actually many early years workers do get paid £20k, but they work in state nurseries. What we really need is vastly more state nursery places, with well paid, well qualified, well motivated staff. Of course this government won't provide that.

I also really like the German/Scandinavian system of childminders being employed by the state, and therefore getting proper training, holidays, pay and pensions.

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 12:55:31

I wouldnt say many do, not even in ones connected to surestart centres.Not many managers even get that,or anything close

LimelightsontheChristmastree Tue 29-Jan-13 12:56:16

Yes let's blame the 'scroungers' because that always helps sad

What I think will happen is, as lots of others have stated the gap between provision for rich and poor will widen.

What's clear to me from this thread is that parents on the whole value low ratios. It's something they worry about and actively consider when choosing childcare. So low ratios and the inherent 'quality care' which we agree this represents will become a sales pitch. I don't blame the providers for this. Some providers will be able to charge a premium because they keep their numbers down and the people who will be able to afford that will pay for it.

People who can't afford it will send their kids to cheaper providers, probably with higher ratios which parents themselves don't feel offer the same level of quality but is their only option.

Sad. I am actively mourning surestart today.

Here's an idea:

Instead of doing the usual webchat at MNHQ, with Justine and biscuits, can we rustle up 4 toddlers and set up a webcam for us to watch Liz Truss - who presumably has a few O Levels - to look after them over a nursery lunch time? We can all shout out helpful comments along the way grin

dreamingofsun Tue 29-Jan-13 12:59:31

hearing the discussion on the politics show just now, i think this should be broken down into the needs of children under 3 and those that are 3-4.

An under 3 year old doesn't really need a carer education to GCSE c grades but i can see a stronger argument for that to be the case with older children.

if you are looking after the number of children thats being bandied around i'm not convinced a carer is going to have the time to teach children maths and english anyway.

LimelightsontheChristmastree Tue 29-Jan-13 13:01:37

TwelveLeggedWalk Like Krypton Factor but with toddlers! grin

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:02:57

3-4s in pre school have teeny sessions like 9-11.30.Then a massive break then 1-3.30.Teachers for this get paid 20k starting.

Nursery staff deal with the same children from 8-6. Cook for them,clean for them,potty train/change them and do all planning for £6.19 an hour.

LindaMcCartneySausage Tue 29-Jan-13 13:03:05

This is a first an "Am I being Unreasonable" thread that's unanimous. Not one poster has supported this change in the law. It's going to be baby farming for those unable to pay for nurseries which differentiate themselves by having better than the legal ratios.

I think it's time that David Cameron was invited on here to be annihilated by a lynch mob of furious mothers for a web chat.

Ms Truss has two children. I wonder if she could borrow a few more for a demonstration........

stormforce10 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:07:18

Twelveleggedwalk - fabulous idea. DS is only 6 months yet so not really toddling but could volunteer him! He needs spoon feeding, nappies changing and breast feeding (suppose i could express some for a cup to help her out!) Oh and he's teething so regulary breaks into red faced screaming with no warning.

Only trouble is can we trust her to look after them all properly. After all she'll have a lot on her hands with 4 of them

LimelightsontheChristmastree Tue 29-Jan-13 13:08:04

Northernlurker oh no! She shouldn't have her own children! Too easy! 6 kids of slightly different ages, different needs, gender, and none of them will have met before.

And nothing to help her except a half empty box of fuzzy felt and an orange crayon.

Glimpers Tue 29-Jan-13 13:08:26

meadow why assume I am well off? We manage to cover all bills but we are far from flush. The point I was trying to make is that we looked at how much extra childcare would cost before deciding to have DD2, we didn't just go blindly ahead reproducing without a second thought as to how we would pay for it. It made sense for me to go back to work, even taking into account the childcare, and this in turn provides a wage for the CM, which in turn means she can provide for her family.
Ultimately prices won't come down, we all know that, it just means more profit for the bigger nurseries and shorter waiting lists.

piprabbit Tue 29-Jan-13 13:09:06

OK - just the blog by Ms Truss that MNHQ linked to earlier.
It seems that the aim of these changes is not to improve childcare or make it cheaper, but to introduce a lowering of the school starting age.
Because what a 2yo really, really needs is a graduate teacher instead of a carer hmm.
Have they learned nothing from the whole nursing-by-graduates debacle?

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:09:47

You must be well off if you can pay your own childcare.I dont know anyone that does it without some state help, so you must be on a decent wage.

SamSmalaidh Tue 29-Jan-13 13:10:32

meadow - where I live they do. £20k for a level 3 qualified practitioner, £24k-ish for team leaders.

HannahsSister40 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:11:16

to the poster who argued that we should perhaps not bother to educate girls if they're going to become sahm's: how utterly insulting. Education is about far more than getting a job. How many people use their degree directly on their line of work? Not many. Education is about self knowledge, knowledge of the wider world, understanding others, empathy, skills for life and not just for the benefit of an employer. My three children benefit daily from my degree level education and I've no doubt it's helped them earn their places in the top sets for every subject.

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:11:33

Sam - Here its about 14k for a manager of a nursery connected to surestart.

Portofino Tue 29-Jan-13 13:12:55

piprabbit - that is exactly what MY 2 yo (well 2.5 yo) got - a fully qualified teacher. She has absolutely thrived under a structured, informal, but targeted learning environment. Why is that seen as bad? As opposed to being cared for by a 16 yo on minimum wage?

EasilyBored Tue 29-Jan-13 13:13:43

You don't have to be particularly well off to afford your own childcare without state help? hmm We manage ours on our own, we just don't spend a lot on other things.

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:15:45

Childcares more expensive than most peoples wages, even if you didnt pay any of your bills a lot of people wouldnt have enough.Again you must live in a high wage area.

Portofino Tue 29-Jan-13 13:16:09

Why do Belgian maternelles have such a high take up rate? 99% Belgium has a lower % of working women than the UK. These parents are not using it for the main only as free child care - but because education is so highly valued here, I believe.

Glimpers Tue 29-Jan-13 13:17:08

You don't have to be particularly well off to afford your own childcare without state help? We manage ours on our own, we just don't spend a lot on other things.

Totally agree Easily

crankin87 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:19:40


Government plans in More Great Childcare contain some good news for childminding but significant concerns still remain, says NCMA, the professional association for registered childminders and nannies.

Liz Bayram, Joint Chief Executive, says: “Today’s decision to maintain the current ratio levels for registered childminders will be welcomed by our members and other childminders, who have spent months stating their concerns around proposals to increase the number of children a childminder can care for at one time. We are relieved that, after months of uncertainty, the Department has listened to the professionals doing the job on a daily basis and will maintain the current 1:6 ratio.

“However, increasing the number of under fives a childminder can care for at one time to four and including two babies under 12 months rather than one, can only be justified if systems are put in place to support childminders to make the quality judgements needed to ensure each child in their care still receives a high quality experience. The plan does not seem to link this change to individual childminders holding higher Ofsted gradings, minimum qualifications nor the new Early Years Educator rolel. We know many of our members' do not use their full ratio level at present, because such young children rightly demand high levels of individual attention and care to thrive.”

Significant concerns also remain around the plan to offer childminders the option of registering with an Ofsted-inspected agency. NCMA refutes the claim that the number of active childminders has halved in the last 20 years and that this model will help recruit individuals into the profession.

Bayram continues:”Our fear is this will lead to a two-tiered system for childminding and risk its future sustainability. Whilst now only proposed as an option for childminders to choose, it remains based on the widely discredited Dutch system. We believe agencies will confuse parents, may not lead to Government’s desired quality improvements and could damage the hard-earned professionalism that childminders have achieved in recent years.

“Parents rely on Ofsted inspection of individual childminders to reassure them their child will be safe and receive a quality experience in that individual’s care. The current system places childminding on an equal footing with nursery and pre-school childcare. Introducing this approach risks parental confidence in childminding and so its sustainability. The Ofsted inspection of agencies will need to be rigourous to ensure the need to make a profit is balanced with the need to ensure quality. The idea that agencies will mean parents no longer need to check a childminder themselves or can find someone else with ease to care for their child if their childminder is ill, fails to recognise how engaged parents are in making careful decisions around the childcare they choose for their child. Parents want to ensure not only that it is high quality care but that their child likes the setting, the childminder and the other children s/he cares for. Ultimately the business model for an agency is based on recruiting lots of childminders willing to pay them a fee and, potentially a commission, for placing parents with them. It underestimates how to sustain quality improvement and how to support parents in choosing childcare.”

piprabbit Tue 29-Jan-13 13:19:55

Portofino - it is absolutely fine to have that if it suited your DD and it suited the teacher.

I'm not sure why it is desirable for every nursery to be operating like a school, for even the youngest children.

dreamingofsun Tue 29-Jan-13 13:19:55

porto - because you are limiting the pool of potential staff and unless you increase their wages dramatically no decent teacher is going to work for low pay. Plus if they are looking after 4-5 kids of different ages i can't see how they could educate them beyond basic things like counting anyway.

we have had a range of nannies and childminders and the only really bad one was the most qualified. she was a bitch and the children hated her. the others all brought individual qualities that benefited the children in different ways - none of which were based on qualifications. thats what school is for.

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:19:57

Most people dont spend it on other things, they just havent got it at all.Out of all the dual income families at our nursery all but one are heavily subsidised by ax credits as most people just cant afford it.

EasilyBored Tue 29-Jan-13 13:20:47

Well, I work for a non-profit, so essentially get paid in peanuts and pats on the back. And my wages are still more than my childcare. If I was single, I wouldn't be able to work in my current job and afford childcare, I'll grant you that. But even for a couple we don't earn a massive amount and we still manage OK. However, we only have one child for the primary reason (although there are many many other smaller reasons) because the cost of two children in childcare would be difficult (though not impossible) to manage on our current income and standard of living. I do not live in high wage area, at all, I'd say it was a generally working class/young family area actually.

SamSmalaidh Tue 29-Jan-13 13:20:47

EasilyBored - my son's nursery is £250 a week, that seems to be a fairly standard cost. Average household income is about £28k I think, so about £540 a week before tax. So childcare for one child eats up almost half of a family's pre-tax income, then at least £150 a week rent, £50 for food, £25 for electric etc it doesn't add up.

PolkadotCircus Tue 29-Jan-13 13:21:09

Got to hand it to the gov-they have for the first time in history managed to pull off a unanimous aibu!shock

Anybody in MNHQ interviewed this week needs to congratulate them,I for one am impressed,never in all my lengthy years as a MMer have I witnessed that!!

Oh and yay to the Elizabeth Truss "show us how it's done exercise".

EasilyBored Tue 29-Jan-13 13:22:48

I imagine child care varies a lot from area to area, but average around here is about £150-170 a week for full time childcare.

Great, so she can have storm's 6mo, my non-verbal, faster-than-Usain-Bolt-running, mountain-goat climbing, head-banging, food-throwing mercurial DS.

Just two more required. A super clingy Velcro baby and a toddler who likes sitting down doing lots of intense interactive craft activities should be the most incompatible combination!

SamSmalaidh Tue 29-Jan-13 13:24:52

You are very lucky then Easily - I hope you can appreciate that in areas of the country where childcare is £4-£5+ an hour it is not so easy to just spend less on other things.

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:25:12

Exactly Sam most people with 2 earners doing combined 65/70 hours make about 25k if lucky and are in supervisory roles, less if not.Then childcare is £34 a day so how can prople afford that without substantial state help?

LimelightsontheChristmastree Tue 29-Jan-13 13:25:30

Speech from Liz Truss this afternoon

Confused about what she means by 'traditional nursery teaching'?

And this:

'I totally reject the idea that children in a nursery can either have an educational day or an enjoyable one.'

I want to know where the CM/nurseries are in this country who aren't providing an educational AND an enjoyable day to their babies and toddlers because i suspect there are very few! Education for a 2 year old is surely learning to put a coat on, or to say please. It annoys me web people differentiate between education and development with this age group. Does she want my two year old to sit at a desk and do bloody worksheets or something ?!

PolkadotCircus Tue 29-Jan-13 13:26:49

Twelve she needs at least one super clingy teether with runny nappies and painful gums in the mix too methinks.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 29-Jan-13 13:27:02


I totally agree with you. We couldn't afford childcare so I sah to look after our dc. I certainly wouldn't expect it to be funded. I also don't believe in childcare for us neither so admittedly the choice was simple. We are certainly not rich, in fact we scrimp and scrape to provide for our dc.
I find a lot of hypocrisy from parents regarding funded childcare as many suggest that parents shouldn't receive top up tax credit if they have a sahp, but expect their choice to work to be funded.

EasilyBored Tue 29-Jan-13 13:28:33

But a child is in full time childcare for only a couple of years, relatively speaking it's a short term financial blow.

PolkadotCircus Tue 29-Jan-13 13:28:46

Ah bless Elizabeth had a nanny,there we gob1 rule for Tories whether it be healthcare,education or childcare and another for the rest of us in the real world who have to actually use these facilities.

sherbetpips Tue 29-Jan-13 13:28:58

My first reaction to this news was not good, however having read these posts I would tend to agree that the older the children get the higher the ratio should be. My nephew went missing from a nursery a good 20 years ago when the ration was 3 to 1 and they still didnt notice he wasnt there (he came back safe and sound). Accidents will happen even in a one to one situation. I liked that they said that the childcare qualification would require better english and maths grades as this was a consideration when we were looking for a child minder.

Goldenbear Tue 29-Jan-13 13:31:10

These proposals,would without doubt ensure my continuing status as SAHP. dreamingof I am an educated woman, I have a Masters degree and have been a SAHP for 5 years. I have friends that are similarly educated and have made similar choices. I say choice, the reality is the cost of housing is so astronomical where I live, as was/is the cost of public transport, that returning to work wasn't worthwhile. Quite apart from that I similarly wanted to raise my baby at least part time but it wouldn't have been doable with the limited flexibility my employer was offering. I agree with whoever said up thread that some thought should given to how parents can be the main care providers for their babies/toddlers/preschoolers. At the moment it is not an option for many and that it is mainly due to the inadequate income if that option is chosen. Of course, there are people who do not want to do this but there should be a choice. This is part of the discussion IMO as it is obviously a valid child care option if you're talking about how you can achieve high quality care for this age group, which Truss appears to be identifying is as the government's motivation for this overhaul- the best quality care for young children- yeah right!

Proper pay for maternity leave and paternity leave would enable the option I outlined above and would significantly alter accepted working practices that usually leave the woman short changed with the returning to work scenario. Affording parents these opportunities is regarded as terrifically expensive to the tax payer and yet the pursual of corporate tax avoiders is not seen as a priority despite the Tax gap (what is owed and what is collected) been reported as being 120 billion a year, 25 bn of that being legal avoidance. Mind you such business is good news for the lawyers who will be able to keep on their nannys and not have to worry about the baby farms the rest of us are expected to believe will be offering this high quality care Truss talks of???

StripeyBear Tue 29-Jan-13 13:31:42

I'm a bit confused - by highly educated workers - do they actually mean someone with a grade C GCSE in English?

I think the national pass rate of GCSE Maths and English is about 60% - I imagine an even higher % have English alone or an equivalent qualification.

I think inarguably better educated carers do provide a more stimulating environment for young children, but this is hardly a high level of education. I would also worry about the generalisation - when employing nannies for my own children, I would look at their general experience and how they interacted with my child - I think these are much better indicators of how competent they will be, than whether they achieved a fairly basic qualification.

KatyTheCleaningLady Tue 29-Jan-13 13:32:00


I already accept lower "standards" of care when I drop my kid off. Surely my child would be better spending one-on-one time with the person who loves him most in the whole world? But, it makes economic sense for me to lower my standards a bit, and so off to nursery he goes.

I don't know if it will lower costs or not. If it increases the supply of available care so that the proportion of demand relative to supply is no longer so high, then it should lower costs. But, if nurseries just reduce staff, then maybe it won't affect the ratio.

However, it seems to me that a nursery could look at it two ways:

1. We have X kids for an income of £Y, and our labour costs are £Z. If we lay off two staff, our £Z will go down and profits will go up.

2. We have X kids, etc. etc.... if we take on more kids, our profits will go up.

It's my opinion that child care is mired in too much red tape, already, in this country and it would be better if things were relaxed. As far as I'm concerned, only the basics should matter: Criminal background checks, CPR and hygiene training, building inspected for fire safety, some basic-but-not-too-restrictive child/staff ratios. I don't think there should be too much more to it.

It's a nursery. Not a nuclear power station.

EasilyBored Tue 29-Jan-13 13:32:27

But my choice to work is not funded? We would be only very slightly worse off if I stayed at home, but the restrictions that would put on my earning potential and career a few years down the line are just not worth the risk.

The situation above, where the family income is £28 and both adults work full time assumes that they need full time care. Given the nature of work these days, there are probably a lot of situations where the parents are juggling care between them and part time childcare?

EasilyBored Tue 29-Jan-13 13:35:00

I think the point I'm making is that surely it's better to force employers to allow parents and carers to be able to juggle some of their family responsibilities with their working patterns, so that they don't have to use full time childcare at such a high cost, than to just subsidise the childcare?

LimelightsontheChristmastree Tue 29-Jan-13 13:35:22

Twelve. You can have my dogmatic 2 year old who is fairly insistent that everyone in the room stands on a chair AT ALL TIMES.

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:37:47

Easilybored- You cant do that in most jobs.You have to be there when they say.I know of no one who is working flexibly

stormforce10 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:39:07

I don't use twitter but I believe Elizabeth Truss posts there as @trussliz if anyone feels like sending her a tweet or 2

RillaBlythe Tue 29-Jan-13 13:40:05

I want to know if any of the cabinet has ever used a nursery for their childcare.

EasilyBored Tue 29-Jan-13 13:41:51

Right, That is the point meadow2 Surely it would be better to have more people working flexibly? Rather than just give money for childcare, make companies make real changes to their working policies so that people can manage all their responsibilities?

TiggyD Tue 29-Jan-13 13:42:30

After reading responses on here, TV, a newspaper and online, I don't think this will be much of an issue. Kids Unlimited have just been on TV saying they won't raise their ratios and everybody seems to think high ratios equals worse nursery. I wouldn't want to be the first nursery to change as it would be an obvious sign of lack of quality and drive customers away.

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:44:06

Well most jobs you cant unless your going to start needing teachers, shop assistants, bin men, shop and cafe managers, nursery staff etc,etc during office hours.Most jobs you cant just go off and catch up later

TalkinPeace2 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:44:14

THe ratios are being brought into line with Nurseries in France, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany - any posters who live there who can explain how it works there?

stormforce10 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:44:28

In which case tiggy whaf is the point of the governements efforts. Surely the nursery "industry" must have indicated that want this and will go ahead with the plans confused


EasilyBored Tue 29-Jan-13 13:44:57

No, but there is part time working and job shares etc.

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:45:43

Most people cant afford to do that easilybored.

mam29 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:47:02

Im so enraged at this really am.

I have used 2different nurseries for 2 of my kids.

eldest nursery was lower floor of converted house it as tiny. it had 3rooms, small office, sleep room and one other small room , toiliets and kitchen/utility area.

The lunches were delivered tea made on site.

Had very small hallway nightmare to leave a buggy or a carseat.

you had to walk through the preschool room 3+to get into the baby room then the baby room had one big room divider to seperate younger babies from older as went up to age2.

the sleep room was small

The extra small room as laminated and used hen it rained to do circle time

The garden AKA the prision yard wasenet great either.

she as there fulltime @11months to age 4

From outside looked rough liked it initially but staff turnover was bad.

everyone here has similar prices around £38-40 a day depending on their age.

2nd child nursery no 2

2converted houses opposite each other in same street.

baby house ha large kitchen /diner, ultily with pegs

downstairs room was very young babies.

upstairs was 2rooms 1 messy play, office and 1 large room


garden was better 2nd child started at 18months 1day a week.

The transition was hard though when moved over despite trial sessions and visit by new keyworkers for 6months she sobbed every drop off I felt terrible and monopolised staff time.

The preschool unit is 3storys slightly larger but not great garden.
has kitchen and cook meals on site.
large office, dining room and messyplay room toiliet on ground
middle floor 2s room and 2spare rooms ones music and activities others roleplay and toiliets.

Top floor is preschool3+ to school age its small as attic room but not overly bothered as she does spend time in all rooms.

with nurseru 1 dont see how they could shoe horn many extra kids in they just too small.

nursery 2 yes they could but feel care would suffer.

I did veiw a chain nursery was leapfrog now busybees.

That really was very diffrent as purpose built new building.

it had 3seperate garden depending on age group.
each age group had their own room
had fancy sensory room.

The entire top floor was preschool and they had toiliets , huge laiubary with sleep mats , 1 room looked like class room then another room.

Given size of their building bthe big chains could take more
I seriouly doubt staff will get paid more most are min wage or bit above.

I doubt fees will reduce as salaries not their only overhead and as they private they like to make a profit they not charitable organisations to assist parents and co-alition!
I felt when i looked round looked nice but was too big.

Will this apply for preschools/

as dd prechool is too small its only one building.
They taking 2year olds and dd3 2in april but dont consider it for younger just not enough space.

What worries me is childminders overstretching themselves in order to make more money.

I know there are good and bad but many do schools/preschool runs and to take on 6kids instead of 4 all walking by the road and can have more babies think could be disaster waiting to happen and many couldent fit that many kids into their cars.

They really are numptys its not what parents want.

Also huge problem is no one can afford to put them in in first place and waiting for 15hours funding usually term after 3rd birthday.

Disadvantaged kids term after age 2.

so unless people can afford to , numbers down locally here few preschools shut down.

They keep mentioning europe on sky news its totally different.

They not looking at size of premises as most are small coverted houses or portacabins/church halls- i expect different in europe.

you ideally need primary size buildings state childcare heviliy subsided think waht they term kindergarten as ration at 4when they start school si 1 to 30.

We have no sure start nurseries near me.
There are couple nursery classes attached to schools assume they have lower rations.

But for babies and under 3 this move is wrong.
they claim they giving something spending no money and making wild claims like it will be better for them, will bring costs down and better pay for staff. I dont care about gcse c grade that does reassure me what does is

they nice
can cope
they safe-able to deal with emergency/1st aid

specifically trained in childcare ie old style nneb. some nurseries have degree in early years too.

oh well another thig to corner local my about as read he does public surgeries.

Hope they dont scrap childcare vouchers at same time as thats gone quiet.

EasilyBored Tue 29-Jan-13 13:47:27

So what exactly would you suggest they did Meadow?

TiggyD Tue 29-Jan-13 13:48:50

Truss named 2 nursery chains who back this. They are cheap and cheerless very much at the lower end of the nursery market.

By the way, I believe the big chains only account for about 5% of nursery places at the moment, so the key is what the independents think of it.

This will lead to at two tiered system. Nurseries and CM in affluent areas with parents who can afford to will retain the current ratios as a selling point. The 15 free hours available to 3 & 4 year olds will have the rate of funding drop to match the new ratios and this will mean that providers will withdraw from the scheme if they can get parents to play the full rate for the place instead. Those in government funded nurseries/preschools and those in poorer areas where parents are more price sensitive will use the new ratios. This will mean worse provision for the poorest children who need the most help and this inequality will have an impact for the rest of their lives.

On the issue of C grade GCSEs, DD is 2 and is struggling to get her numbers up to 10 in the right order. I don't think that she needs staff with a C grade at GCSE to help her sort this out. She needs someone with time and patience. As she gets towards school age she would benefit from having staff with some understanding of the primary school approach to phonics so that she starts her very early literacy using the right methods, but this is very different to her needs as a baby and now.

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:50:32

I think I know what they will do.Everyone will still get tax credits, and they will just up the ratios.Childcarers will still get paid minimum wage, or thereabouts.

There will be less childcare jobs so staff will just be glad to still be in employment so wont fight it, and will just do a harder job for same very low wage.Then more mums will go to work in the low paid jobs mentioned.

SamSmalaidh Tue 29-Jan-13 13:50:34

Easily it would be lovely to say that it's only a short term thing when a child is in full time childcare, and you could take the financial blow, but most families getting tax credits (eg, earning under £26k) can't take the short term blow because it would mean not paying rent or buying food.

mam29 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:51:26

House of commons has their own nursery

so mps possibly use.

wish they invest in early years as tahst where they can make real diffrenece.

A disadvanted child is behind when start school, they wont get gcses or go uni in many cases.

Agree employers should be made by stature to be more family freindly.

PolkadotCircus Tue 29-Jan-13 13:52:30

You can have more flexible hours,lots of companies,places do it already.It wouldn't work for everybody but it would for many,it needs creativity and thinking out of the box.

The fact is the vast maj of parents and children would like a parent looking after them more or even full time.The best carer in the world is a parent yet nothing is being done to enable this,nothing,in fact sahp are in some cases being penalised.

PolkadotCircus Tue 29-Jan-13 13:57:15

It will definitely lead to a 2 tier system in pretty much the same way health and education is going.

This is exactly why the Tories don't really care as they'll simply carry on using their expensive nannies/over subscribed Kensington nurseries,private health cover and prep schools whilst the rest of us use the shite elsewhere.

Can't believe I considered voting for them once.

stormforce10 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:57:57

mam29 - its more likely the HofC nursery is used by staff than MPs. The vast majority of MPs have homes and their families living in their constituencies rather than in London so it would be somewhat impractical to transport their small children to nursery every day if they went there. Be interesting to know what the ratio is of staff to MPs children attending it

Hobbitation Tue 29-Jan-13 14:02:01

Completely agree breatheslowly

The GCSE English and Maths thing is just a sop to make people think that standards will improve. All that will improve is some nurseries' balance sheets.

EasilyBored Tue 29-Jan-13 14:02:57

The GCSE thing is an odd requirement too, surely better qualifications in childcare would at least make sense?!

Portofino Tue 29-Jan-13 14:07:21

porto - because you are limiting the pool of potential staff and unless you increase their wages dramatically no decent teacher is going to work for low pay. Plus if they are looking after 4-5 kids of different ages i can't see how they could educate them beyond basic things like counting anyway.

She was degree educated - paid a teacher's salary and had a class of 25 2.5 - 3.5 yo. That is how they do it in Belgium. It is FREE.

chocolatebourbon Tue 29-Jan-13 14:07:34

I am in France and higher ratios do not work well. Childminders who take lots of children manage by keeping the TV on the whole time, giving the children free access to brioche, and being very strict about napping. Parents just don't seem to expect adults to give the same level of input that we have demanded in the UK.

From 2-3, potty trained children can start the ecole maternelle. My son is there at the moment having his afternoon nap with a class of over twenty others (well, actually, as usual he will be keeping them all awake by singing English songs). They have one teacher and one assistant. He really struggled when he started aged 2 - and I struggled too as the teachers regularly told the parents off because their children would not sit still/do what they were told etc. The expectations in terms of obedience/discipline are set very differently to the UK. As an English parent I don't like it, but we have to live with it so that my son learns French and is ready for more formal schooling at the same time as the rest of his peer group. I really don't see it as a model for elsewhere, and it certainly doesn't fit with typical English attitudes to childhood and child-rearing.

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 14:09:04

They wont put in a teacher though.A lot of settings in deprived area already had a qualified teacher, this government have already cut that.They will just make the minimum wagers do the teachers work.

Hobbitation Tue 29-Jan-13 14:09:51

MPs' kids have nannies, with 1:1 or 1:2 ratios and then go on to be privately educated, with small class sizes. Of course 1:6 is fine for the proles' toddlers...

Portofino Tue 29-Jan-13 14:12:32

And you would be amazed by what they achieve. Dd did topics - so eg "wheat". They went to the farm to see it grow, they saw it being ground into flour. They went to the supermarket bakery to see bread being made. They baked their own stuff. They drew pictures, did crafts, brought baked goods in from home. Ditto for "weather", "trees" etc etc. With plenty of time for free play too. The teachers are qualified to TEACH children in an age appropriate way.

SamSmalaidh Tue 29-Jan-13 14:16:00

chocolatebourbon - agree with you about "attitudes". In order for 2 adults to manage 25 2-3 year olds there does need to be a high degree of obedience and compliance from the children. I think of my 2.5 year old's class of 12 2-3 year olds, with 3 members of staff and there is a loose routine with children having a large degree of choice. 4 of them can be playing outside on bikes, while another adult reads stories with a child who is struggling to settle, while another adult is doing foot painting with some children while another couple play independently. How would that work with 25? If one adult is taking someone to the toilet, how is the other adult keeping 24 of them interested and engaged in something?

Goldenbear Tue 29-Jan-13 14:17:50

All these references to the rest of Europe by Truss, she doesn't mention how heavily subsidised the child care is these countries. Are they going to borrow these 'best practices' to?

Goldenbear Tue 29-Jan-13 14:17:56

All these references to the rest of Europe by Truss, she doesn't mention how heavily subsidised the child care is these countries. Are they going to borrow these 'best practices' to?

SamSmalaidh Tue 29-Jan-13 14:19:25

Has she not noticed that "the rest of Europe" is a pretty big place? Is childcare in Denmark and in Greece identical hmm

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 14:22:51

Exactly goldenbear so they want degree qualified, c grade at gcse level staff who must do planning,learning journeys etc.Much longer hours with the children than qualified teachers.

They will also be dealing with a large amount of children with most nurseries only paying the bare minimum as it is, with no pay rises and most staff get less than you would get working at Tescos.

Most nurseries have already lost their qualified teachers and the other initiatives put in place under Labour.

minderjinx Tue 29-Jan-13 14:24:24

I find the report full of red herrings and ill-argued conclusions.

Ms Truss finds that childminders are on average less favourably rated by OFSTED than nurseries. It might be that the childminders rated poorly actually perform poorly - or it might be that they are better at delivering the sort of service valued by parents than that valued by OFSTED. Perhaps OFSTED's criteria are skewed in favour of nurseries? Perhaps they should be overhauled instead?

She furthermore finds that childminders in areas of deprivation tend to score less highly with OFSTED than those in more affluent areas, and leaps to the conclusion that childminders need to be better educated in order to give a better start in life to children from disadvantaged backgrounds. There is no evidence that I can see of a correlation between OFSTED rating and educational attainment (or indeed geographical area and educational attainment). Would it be a huge stretch to imagine that childminders in these areas of deprivation might be less well rewarded and have less cash for resources (or have poorer access to community resources) with which to impress the inspectors?

FWIW I am not personally threatened by anything in the report. My own children are beyond needing childcare, and though I work as a childminder I do have academic and vocational qualifications enough to meet any foreseeable raising of the bar, and no pressing need to increase my numbers. If there is downward pressure on fees, for example if local nurseries hugely increase capacity and lower prices, I will simply give up childminding (even though graded outstanding) as contrary to popular belief the financial rewards as they stand are not great in relation to the effort and commitment required.

TryDrawing Tue 29-Jan-13 14:26:04

I believe that's me that you've misunderstood there, HannahsSister40

My point is that you choose to stay at home, lucky you. I could choose to stay at home but I instead choose to work, lucky me.

Many and probably most women don't have a choice. They may want to work but the cost of childcare takes that choice away. They have to stay at home.

We as a society are failing to support the rights and freedoms of women to work if they wish to do so . We are also depriving ourselves of the resource of the many educated women we forcibly remove from the workforce at a time when our economy needs them.

chocolatebourbon Tue 29-Jan-13 14:26:48

SamSmalaidh, it doesn't really work. I was told by the teacher that my child was "difficult" because "he only comes and joins in with group activities if it's something he is interested in". He is not naturally obedient and teaching him to be obedient wasn't top of my list when I started out as a parent...but if I had been starting out in France and known what was coming, I would have put it as number one priority. Your description of your 2.5 year old's class sounds absolutely lovely.

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 14:29:21

Having just read some of the report it says they are going to start training the first early years teachers in septrmber 2013.Anyone know anymore about this?

PolkadotCircus Tue 29-Jan-13 14:32:32

The reason the quality is lower in deprived areas is simply because staff come from the local area so if literacy is already low the staffing standards will be lower.I've seen this time and again when doing supply teaching.

High qualified nursery assistants are not going to travel from their nice sheltered areas to challenging areas a)because of travel costs(which the Gov isn't exactly helping with) and b) because it is easier working with children in less challenging areas.

People will also always want to work in their local area and childcare will never pay enough to lure workers onto a lengthy expensive commute.That aside many will have their own dc to collect before and after anyway.

StinkyWicket Tue 29-Jan-13 14:35:09

I disagree in that I think that there is no more scope for people to be put out of work and even lower wages paid sad

Personally I wouldn't fancy four under ones - but that's why I'm not a CM!

mam29 Tue 29-Jan-13 14:35:33

Too true choc bourban

culturally every country in eu is different.

every eu country different have no idea what spain, italy, germany and greece do.

I have heard from my french freinds that france is

much more academic

I wouldent knock it if was freesmile

I supsect their buildings are very different from whats on offer in uk.

I have 3year old whos september birthday so just missed school this year when shes more than ready.
So I have extra year of paying childcare for her.

when went back to work net monthly salary was 1200
nursery 850 with child one

by no 2 I was sahm

dds could only do 1 day as thats all could afford but good for her development

want to start dd3 now dd2 funding free 15hours kicked in.

pay nursery 160 a month and last term preschool as started in september around 500 for sep-december.

i have never had tax credits to help with childcare,

so always been self funded.

I work on preschool committee and went parents evening nursery they keep changing framework, paperwork amount of paperork and observations for each child is loads.

They cant decide if its education or childcare.

lost track of comments on primary threds that schools are not childcare as shouldent be treated at such.

But if its school/nursery/preschool needs are same child in someone elses care allowing parent to work.

if my nursery changes ration willnot put no 3 there.

wonder if its compulsary or up to ofsted or provider?

PolkadotCircus Tue 29-Jan-13 14:36:42

That isn't to say there aren't literate people in deprived areas of course there are but illiteracy is more prevalent in these areas and childcare is the type of job many can access.I do think a certain amount if literacy is needed when teaching phonics,reading stories,reading and writing plans etc but it is only part of being a good childcare practitioner.

dreamingofsun Tue 29-Jan-13 14:38:34

god help anyone who tried to look after 25 2.5 year olds like my oldest 2 boys. they would have deserved all the money they got portafino. i'm presuming they would have had to sit still for some of that time. they could forget about teaching them maths or english - all their effort would have gone into keeping them still.

PolkadotCircus Tue 29-Jan-13 14:38:36

I know several degree educated parents who struggle far more with babies/toddlers than parents less well educated.Slapping GCSE Eng and Maths into the equation is just paying lip service imvho.

moogy1a Tue 29-Jan-13 14:39:05

So not one person thinks IABU! is this a first?!
Could we start formulating our responses / arguments for the webchat with Truss. What are the most salient, important points we want to put across?
BTW, I'm a CM and shudder to think what the standards of care would be like with increased ratios.

SamSmalaidh Tue 29-Jan-13 14:39:45

Polkadot - though with higher wages, nurseries in deprived areas can recruit the best staff. That is one of the big success of Sure Start/children's centre nurseries - staff are paid a decent wage and are well qualified and actually motivated and interested in working with more challenging children, because the work is more varied and interesting.

SamSmalaidh Tue 29-Jan-13 14:42:10

Portofino - how do teachers cope with this 2:25 ratio if some of those toddlers have additional needs? I can see it working if all children do activities together and are fairly obedient, but what if one child is autistic and another communicates only with signs (or even if one child just needs to be cuddled and carried a lot) - do they have extra support staff?

PolkadotCircus Tue 29-Jan-13 14:45:10

Also many people in childcare handle children how they parent and often you parent how you were parented.Parenting classes are needed widespread across the country imvho and actually I think childcare workers need more support in the job ie more workers in settings modelling,continuing to train,observing workers,enabling workers to get more qualifications etc.So really staff numbers needs to go up not down.But obviously that would cost more so who cares.

PolkadotCircus Tue 29-Jan-13 14:46:15

I guess Sam but this won't help that.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Tue 29-Jan-13 14:47:38

I'm not bothered if whoever looks after my child has a science GCSE at C grade, what I'm bothered about is can they look after my child!

I don't see how it can improve care. It's like asking a nurse to look after five patients instead of three, you can't give as much attention to each patient as you would have. But just because they might have a degree instead of a diploma, doesn't mean the care is better!

It's all a money saving exercise. My baby starts nursery next week and it doesn't give me confidence.

TiggyD Tue 29-Jan-13 14:54:07

"Re. the Belgian maternelle - yes they do need to be potty trained. The teacher - is just that - a degree educated profession in early years education. She/he would be on teacher salary. It is SCHOOL - not childcare per se.

There are other helpers who supervise lunchtime and naptime etc. It is fulltime - like school. 8.30 - til 3."

You're not allowed to discriminate against children who are not potty trained as it would include many SEN children.

There is a big difference between working 8.30-3 and 8-5 which is what daycare staff work over here.

If the teacher has lunch help and nap time help that would mean they have extra staff from about 11.30-2.30.

Not everybody wants their children to go to school aged 2 and a half.

breadandbutterfly Tue 29-Jan-13 14:57:25

meadows - something seriously wrong with childcare in this country if you imagine that 20K salaries in childcare are an impossible dream and state that a nursery manager ffs is on 14K! There are few jobs more responsible or important than looking after our young children - child carers/nursery workers ought to be paid at least the national average salary (26k on average) and ought to be well-qualified also - it should not be the job done by those who can't do anything else, paid at less than a factory worker or cleaner!!

Sad that someone who works in the industry can't see this.

TryDrawing Tue 29-Jan-13 15:04:18

Good point about formulating points to put to Liz Truss moogy1a . The questions that I would like to put to her would be along the lines of:

It's welcome that the government has turned its attention the question of childcare costs. What measures will be introduced with the decreased ratios, to ensure that cost savings are passed on to parents? By what percentage do you estimate costs will be reduced per child? To how many parents will this make a significant enough financial difference tp allow them to choose to return to work?


Do you think that the increase in tax revenue from giving parents, in particular women, the choice to work, would pay for the government subsidised childcare necessary to achieve this?


My childminder is 50, has raised 3 children and cared for dozens more. In what way would academic qualifications improve the service that she offers?


You are clearly well educated. How do you think that you would cope with caring for 4 children under the age of 1 simultaneously? Would you do a sufficiently outstanding job to feel good about yourself at the end of the day?

neriberi Tue 29-Jan-13 15:32:30

This worries me A LOT. Surely the safety, care and well-being of the child is being put at risk if this goes ahead?

Xenia Tue 29-Jan-13 15:33:32

This measure may give some childcare workers a pay rise.

In some countries parents pay 15% of childcare costs. In the UK if you are self employed (so no employer vouchers) you pay 100% of the costs except for a short period when I think you get some kind of voucher worth £600 when childcare is about £20k - £30k if you pay someone to look after 3 under 3s for you.

What the state needs to ensure is that they somehow win back the female vote (although childcare is as much a male as female issue in most of our non sexist homes) and appearing to help in ways that do not cost much (there is no money, the coffers are utterly bare) is one route.

By the way on ratios I found it much much much easier to care for twins alone and at once than a baby and 1 year old which we had had earlier. Children of the same age can do things at the same time. It is easier to manage them.

In a free market parents can choose care with the ratios they prefer.Free markets always work best.

It's another crazy idea thought up by some bloke/woman with no kids i should imagine.
Can they make half this stuff up, we might aswell have Mr Blobby running the countrygrin

meadow2 Tue 29-Jan-13 15:51:29

Breadandbutter- Pigs wikl fly before childcarers get 26k.I think they deserve it but it wont happen.I have a 2.1 early years degree, forest school leader, all my gcses,nvq 2 and 3 etc.I still only get not much more than the minimum wage and thats for being a newly promoted assistant manager.

My boss doesnt make the money to give to me, and we are full and partially funded due to the area.All of my friends in the same industry are the same.

Didilala Tue 29-Jan-13 16:07:47

I can see three reasons why the childcare is less expensive in the continent.

One is the children to staff ratio, another is the government funding and the third one is what the children actually do at school/care.

On the continent there is more children per carer. That is because, for example to access maternelle, the children need to be potty-trained. There is more discipline and less individuality. Staff are better paid but there are less staff so it works out to be cheaper.

The government obviously pays more money abroad. 24 hours per week rather than 12.

And finally, what the children actually do. If you are going to put toddlers to do hand painting, playing with water and sand and going on a monthly excursion to the zoo, yes, you do need 1 adult per 3 children. Most nurseries on the continent would never do that. Most parents would never do them either.

NeedlesCuties Tue 29-Jan-13 16:10:24

Is this just a sneaky way to bring England into line with the rest of Europe to make their desire to join Europe more appealing?

hostelgirl74 Tue 29-Jan-13 16:13:28

Its terrible that once again the economy is prioritised above all else. As a qualified Nursery Nurse, the government are doing this to get more mums working and putting into the cash pot because they are always hearing that mums cant afford childcare. Maybe thats true but what the government need to do is subsidise it more. Women are not going to feel confident leaving their children in these arrangements. I know I wouldnt. As for the Maths and English GCSE - what a laugh. By all means lets have better qualified staff but in more relevant things - ie first aid, psychology related stuff etc not Maths and English. This will put plenty of great potential Nursery Nurses off the job. When will this government learn that everyone is not the same and that caring types are not necessarily the most academic.

spookycatandfluffydog Tue 29-Jan-13 16:28:05

crazy idea - YANBU

How on earth can someone look effectively after that many children?

SamSmalaidh Tue 29-Jan-13 16:30:49

Didilala - it depends where on "the continent" though surely? I have known German daycare where groups of 15 children aged 2-5 years had two well qualified carers, and then often a student helper too. Children did all the outdoor and creative play we have here, plus weekly outings to the park. Very different to what has been described in France or Belgium.

OddBoots Tue 29-Jan-13 16:32:42

This really worries me.

It particularly worries me as it will be happening just as the most deprived 2-year-olds will be getting 15 hours a week term time funding. Many (not all, but many) of these children have greater care needs than your average 2-year-old, the reason for the funding is to try to help the most deprived children start school with the same skills as those with an easier background - of course that is going to take time and attention, settings will be expected to spend time helping the families access additional services. This cannot happen with a 1:6 ratio.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 29-Jan-13 16:56:06


I do not know of a college of FE that allows students onto psychology courses without GCSE's in Maths and English. Any job now requires these or an equivalent.
I have experienced the lack of basic education in child care workers and feel that anybody who sees the insignificance in this standard are doing children a huge disservice.
Yes better training and relevant education would be a benefit along with this basic education.
My friend - a FE Early Years teacher is given illiterate students who are encouraged to do childcare because they aren't academic, this imo needs to change. For instance a better educated person would no doubt be able to talk coherently, use correct English and possess a wider vocabulary.
I don't think you would be too pleased if your dc ended up speaking like some I have experienced. It is obvious children emulate the language of their primary carer.

farewellfarewell Tue 29-Jan-13 17:11:01

I am shocked at this proposal. Thinking about the conditions that these 1yr olds are expected to spend 9 hours a day is rotten and has nothing to do with child dev. it is purely an economic decision. Surely anyone who has raised a baby and cared for it from birth to 2/3 knows all that this entails. We are seriously expecting a childcare worker to provide care of a comparable standard to 4 toddlers? As others have stated there are elements that cannot easily be quantified-communication (inc. pre verbal) between a baby and primary caregiver etc. Surely this is lost in a group setting with 4 babies of the same age? I agree that gradually the possibility of raising babies, at home/in a home setting with mum/dad/grandparent/family member/childminder is becoming less usual. It all makes me shudder frankly.

HopAndSkip Tue 29-Jan-13 17:13:46

It will be a disaster. We have been short staffed at nursery before, and it's complete chaos. You can't focus on the individual children or activities with too many under 3, it just turns into damage control and tidying up after them rather than organised things, especially 2 and under.

abbyfromoz Tue 29-Jan-13 17:59:12

Sometimes i look after my friends DS (16 months) while also taking care of my DD (21 months). It is insanely difficult! And that's just 2 on 1! Can you imagine having 1 carer for every 6 children?! Sheer chaos! I can't possibly keep an eye on more than 2 at a time- even if i'm changing one nappy the other wants to be cuddled... If i'm preparing lunch they are getting into the dog food or trying to climb out windows etc. i think the £92.50 per day i pay for my daughter warrants a lower ratio of children to carers.

RubyrooUK Tue 29-Jan-13 18:14:02

I am actually so horrified by these proposals that I can't type a reasoned response. So I am marketing my place here to come back to it when I calm down.

fraktion Tue 29-Jan-13 18:15:59

Of course CC workers should be literate, but the functional skills as part of the training should cover that and be on a pass or fail basis.

No. Child are training is to learn about child are, not teach people to read or add up. If you do not have those basic tools for learning you aren't going to be able to access the information you are supposed to be learning. I wholly support entry requirements for childcare training. It's barely long enough as it is and students without the key skills are missing practical placement time to do it.

This is a recommendation which came from a highly respected professor in the field which the Govt has chosen to expect.

The ratio question on the other hand is bonkers. Countries which do it successfully have predominantly state provision. There is a cultural mismatch between what the UK wants for 2-3 year olds and what other countries want. You can't give what the UK wants on French ratios.

Leannealanis Tue 29-Jan-13 18:39:03

Wow, I've just come home from working full time picking up my two children from childcare and read this news story and I am absolutely furious. There will not be any cost savings passed on to parents and any kind of better provision given to our children. Just a girl with more children to look after than she already has, and my children receiving less attention. Yet again, politics getting in the way of common sense and trying to put some spin on it. Very very angry right now.

Floweryhat Tue 29-Jan-13 18:58:38

I am furious, horrified and saddened by this. The proposals sound dangerous and stupid. Someone up thread wrote it better than I can. THIS:

I want a child carer with compassion, common sense, patience, kindness in abundance and a loving caring and warm personality. If they have an A in GCSE maths I really do not care. I want them to have enough time to give DS the love and security he needs. I want his nappy changed regulary and as required. I want him not to be battling with other babies for affection. I want him to be fed and cuddled. I want his tears wiped if he falls and his face wiped after he eats. I want him to be secure happy and safe

MarathonMama Tue 29-Jan-13 19:47:29

Please sign the petition or email your MP

anewyear Tue 29-Jan-13 20:05:35

TryDrawing, Quote 'You are clearly well educated. How do you think that you would cope with caring for 4 children under the age of 1 simultaneously? Would you do a sufficiently outstanding job to feel good about yourself at the end of the day?'

Brilliant grin

alicatte Tue 29-Jan-13 20:07:38

Um - I don't know how things are now but when I was small I went to nursery from 18 months old, there were only a couple of 'teachers' and we were forced to have a nap after lunch. If we didn't go to sleep we were rolled in a prickly blanket (happened to me a lot). My mum said that I cried every day for years. I can remember being 4 and finding it a very lonely experience. It would have been nice to have a high ratio of helpers. Hope it doesn't go down too far.

alicatte Tue 29-Jan-13 20:08:46

Just to make it clear my dad was still studying and mum had to work.

feralgirl Tue 29-Jan-13 20:17:03

Very interesting discussion on R4 this morning about this; it certainly seems as though the govt have cherry-picked the bits of European child-care that they like the look of and discarded the rest.

I whole-heartedly agree with Fraktion that basic literacy and numeracy is a must for new entrants onto CC college courses. I think that nursery education is woefully undervalued and that treating nursery workers and CMs more like teachers (as is more often the case in Europe) can only be a good thing, but that requires more govt funding and a complete culture change.

I certainly don't wish to play devil's advocate but Truss did say on R4 this morning that only nurseries that show that they have better trained staff and higher standards would be allowed to go for the lower staff: child ratios. I still think it's crap though and I would rather send my baby to a nursery where the ratios were lower and I liked the staff, regardless of their qualifications.

feralgirl Tue 29-Jan-13 20:19:03

Just re-read that and clearly my understanding of how ratios work needs help confused blush

Not impressed by this at all.

I've just pulled my daughter from a nursery where they were a bit 'flexible' on their ratios. One of their favourite tactics was to count the manager as part of the under 3's ratio, but she wouldn't have anything to actually do with the u3's, she would spend the day in the nursery

And don't even get me started on the 1-13 preschool where the teacher wasn't actually a qualified teacher, and the nursery staff would just stand around chatting instead of interacting with the nursery. And their policy of sending the 2.5yr old children up to preschool to 'settle in' because the u3's room was overstaffed.

ffs, what would the place be like when they can get away with even less staff? And I don't believe for one minute the nursery I've described would actually lower their fees.

mischiefmummy Tue 29-Jan-13 20:42:25

On grounds of safety and education I would simply not consider any setting with higher ratios that the existing ones. It would be impossible for a member of staff to carry four babies in their charge out of a setting in an emergency, or give them the attention a small child needs and deserves. Nature only gives us 1-2 babies at a time because it is not possibly to provide adequate care for more than that. Even people with twins struggle. We would be harming future generations of children by depriving them of yet more of the nurturing they so desperately need to be well rounded adults. I wouldn't try and train 4 puppies at a time, never mind care and educate four very young children!! When will the Conservatives recognise that children need 1:1 care and support parents in providing this for the first two years of life??

somewherewest Tue 29-Jan-13 20:55:43

It will lead to a two-tier system and greater social inequality, because those on very low incomes will have no choice but to opt for 1:4 childcare ratios, while the more affluent can afford to shop around.

weirdlyunique Tue 29-Jan-13 20:57:22

Please every one sign the petition

weirdlyunique Tue 29-Jan-13 20:58:56

sorry clicky link please please all sign it

hostelgirl74 Tue 29-Jan-13 21:06:36

message to morethanpotatoprints - i didnt resit my maths and pass it til i was 34 (am 38 now). However when i was 19 i went on a 2 year full time Nursery Nursing course followed by a 3 year degree in Playwork for which i gained a 2:1. I did all that without the Maths and studied lots of child psychology as part of this as well as other things that helped my working with children such as child health and development,first aid, sociology, counselling modules, value of play etc. This is deep stuff - Bowlby, Margaret Meade, Freud, Skinnner etc and much of it specific to young children. I find it insulting to suggest that because someone does not have their Maths or English they are inarticluate.
I would much rather my child had someone to give him a cuddle when he needed one and meet his complex emotional needs rather than someone who knows Pythagoras or Shakespeare. If children are happy and understood the rest will follow. The Maths GCSE that I resat is helpful to me for jobs/CV generally but in no way does it enhance my working with children.

chandellina Tue 29-Jan-13 21:11:06

I think it can work. Competent people can definitely deal with multiple children. Everyone I know in other countries with higher ratios rave about the care and never mention the ratios at all. That suggests to me that ratios aren't the issue, but quality of staff.

onemorebite Tue 29-Jan-13 21:21:47

Not sure if I am more depressed or scared about the proposals. My 17 month old goes to a nursery 1 day a week and the staff already seem too stretched. There is always at least one unhappy looking baby or toddler - or one that has to cry too long to get attention. And this is a very highly rated nursery with lovely staff in an affluent area.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 29-Jan-13 21:27:59


Ditto, so did I. Isn't it lovely to finally get the maths. For me it meant more than my degree because I had struggled so much. I then gained a PgCE and Masters in Social Sciences.
However, I wouldn't want to leave my dc with anybody who was incapable of decent language communication skills. Which imo all the childcare workers I have met without a basic education portray. I wanted my dc to emulate good English and not have to pay for them to be disadvantaged. Obviously the care element is important but don't under estimate the benefit of a basic education

SamSmalaidh Tue 29-Jan-13 21:31:26

chandellina - or what we want here is different. I think few UK parents would be happy with the regimented approach posters in France/Belgium have mentioned for instance - I certainly wouldn't be looking for that for a 2 year old.

Whatever the quality of the staff, there is a limit to the amount of interact and attention one adult can give. With under 3s, the interaction with adults is all important.

Floweryhat Tue 29-Jan-13 21:38:30

No. For fucks sake. It's actually angers me. Who in their right mind thinks anyone can look after four babies even adequately let alone well?! Stark raving fucking mad. No amount of qualifications gives you four arms.

HSMM Tue 29-Jan-13 21:38:42

I am a vastly over qualified CM and my DH has his NVQ3, but no GCSEs. He is just as good at childcare as I am. We will not be increasing our ratios (or reducing our prices).

edam Tue 29-Jan-13 21:39:20

It's a shit idea. None of the ministers responsible would dream of stashing their kids in a nursery with one nursery worker to four babies - they can all afford nannies.

They need to subsidise childcare properly and make sure the mechanism is robust enough to ensure parents pay less - no possibility of the subsidy going somewhere else in the system. And make sure nursery workers are paid properly - well above minimum wage, definitely at least the Living Wage if not more.

Ingy123 Tue 29-Jan-13 21:40:22

So the government wants the "Nursery Ratios To Be Relaxed" to save parents money!! They are off there heads... a better idea, increase the tax free childcare amount for working parents.... please sign the petition... The government had a fit at the idea of letting working parents have more tax benefit to pay for childcare however they are willing to make nursery nurse's struggle and help them loose their jobs, maybe even in some instances put children at risk.... Please sign if you are a parent or not and pass this on... the petition is at 17,051 but 100,000 signatures is needed to go to the Backbench Business Committee....

hrrumph Tue 29-Jan-13 21:43:19

Crazy. How exactly does having a lower child/adult ratio improve standards? In all honesty - they don't learn much at this age - what you want is a good carer. Someone who gets round them all with changing and feeding. Really appreciate that the childcare workers these days have qualifications/skills under their belt. They manage well.

But all that will happen with this is that somebody somewhere will cream off more profit. Childcare workers won't be paid more. The quality is fine for the needs. What's to add?

sukysue Tue 29-Jan-13 21:45:19

No not necessarily if the ppl are more qualified then it might be that they can organize and look after the children better.

Goldenbear Tue 29-Jan-13 21:54:49

chandellinna, your friends may rave about childcare in Europe but other European countries are having similar debates about childcare provision. In the Netherlands there is increasing criticism of Dutch reforms that have led to high children to staff ratios. In Denmark 59 million of funding has been supplied to increase staff numbers in nurseries to keep RATIOS down. Germany are introducing a childcare allowance for SAHPs that do not use nurseries. It is therefore not the case that this country is full of incompetent child care providers that are behind in 'best practice', it is sensationalist crap that the Tories want to convince us will improve the quality of childcare, help working families at no extra cost for the taxpayer! Something for nothing doesn't exist and in this case it is a very dangerous experiment.

hrrumph Tue 29-Jan-13 21:56:34

Suky - how? At this age they need changing, feeding and entertaining. How can you change a child quicker because you are more organised? Because that's what they'll have to do. Do less changes and less attention to feeding if they have 6 instead of 4.

No amount of education can change dc's needs.

I've worked in care but not childcare.

jellybeans Tue 29-Jan-13 21:56:39

YANBU. It is ridiculous and again shows all the government care about is getting all parents into work and not what is best for children.

mam29 Tue 29-Jan-13 22:01:43

anyone else concerned that this will lead to

redundancies in childcare?

also losing lower skilled ones who were doing a good job.

Not everyone could be academic but they could be natural caregivers and do good job.

eg my simple cousin who i cant stand-seems to get on well with kids I cant stand her but my kids think shes ok and she makes an effort when shes sees them.

I wouldent say some of nursery workers i have experienced have been very academic.

eldest has a very regional accent think that came from nursery staff.

At last parents evening I discussed how dd2 language had progressed from saying very little to loads in fact wide range vocab very articulate and her keyworker said what does that mean.

Then she went on about how nursery prides itself on teaching foreign languages they speak diffrerent languages at hello in several different languages and one of teh staff who,s polish sings polish songs and read stories apparently dd 2 fave language is latvian,smile
never heard her speak it asked if any bilingual kids there she dide'nt know what bi-lingual meant.

But on plus side her key workers adore her, nurturing, give her cuddles and let her be her. she loves it there .

Yes I have my niggles but they so much more freindly and approachable than some of eldests primary school teachers and I can see shes developed and think nursery played big part.

Im another one who couldent pass gcse have english, all the others, alevels and degree but couldent get my maths.

SamSmalaidh Tue 29-Jan-13 22:04:20

As a highly qualified early years practitioner myself, I can tell you that I only really get to use my skills/knowledge in one-to-one interactions of small group work with children. Doing whole group activities with 12+ under 3s is mostly crowd control and making sure everyone is safe, and that is with a 1:3 or 1:4 ratio. I cannot see see how it will be possible to snatch opportunties to do focussed educational work with 2 year olds with even higher ratios - adult time will be taken up with keeping everyone clean, fed and safe.

mumoftwolilboys Tue 29-Jan-13 22:07:25

What a load of nonsense! DS2's nursery is an excellent nursery but I can clearly see they are struggling with the current ratio.

If they want to help lower childcare cost, increase the nursery early years funding for the parent (main carer) based on the hours worked. e.g if someone works 25 hours, give them 25 hours free nursery funding. The funding is capped to such a low amount anyway surely this is the way to go. ( the 15 hour per week funding barely lowered my nursery cost when we started receiving the funding, but it still helps!)


cheesesauce45 Tue 29-Jan-13 22:07:31

People power. If everyone signs petition, emails MP we can bring about change. We do not have enough hands to hold, knees to sit on, ears to listen to give young children the best care they deserve by increasing ratio's. Childminder want and need Ofsted regulation because they deserve to be treated as professionals on an equal footing to all other child cares. Children need to be cared for by well paid, professional, educated people not necessarily those who can do long division.

Xenia Tue 29-Jan-13 22:08:27

I certainly never felt GCSE maths or English was needed for a nanny. You need to be good at interacting with children, loving, competent, efficient but you don't need those GCSEs.... so the nursery workers on £13k a year who don't have the qualifications could go off to be nannies on £25k a year in London - that would show the Government!

JanetDeath Tue 29-Jan-13 22:13:15

The single most factor to me, when leaving my not quite one year old daughter at nursery when I returned to work from maternity leave, was that there would always be enough nursery workers there to cuddle her when she was upset, and she would never just be left crying by herself for any period of time.

There is no way that one person, no matter how qualified, can physically cope with four under ones or six under twos.

There is no widespread problem with quality of childcare at the moment, but there will be when there aren't enough members of staff to properly look after children. And what is more, nurseries won't lower their fees if they reduce ratios, they are big corporate business which don't work like that.

There is no way I would leave any future children in the hands of a nursery with the sort of ratios that are being proposed.

33goingon64 Tue 29-Jan-13 22:13:37

I couldn't believe my ears this morning when I heard this. And that smug Truss woman laughing away on R4 cos she knows it won't affect her or her friends. It's another Tory coalition La La Land policy designed to remove local authority controls until they shrivel up and die, and to make life worse for poorer people at the same time. I love my DS's nursery (as does he, more importantly). I doubt if many of the lovely, caring, sensible staff who look after him so well and communicate so confidently with parents have a C at GCSE in maths and English and I don't give a flying fuck. They aren't trying to get him through the 11+, they are giving him a secure, happy, fun environment which enhances the care he gets at home.

More DCs and fewer staff will lower standards, threaten health and safety and make the nursery more profit - unless of course they keep the same number of children and sack half the staff. I can't see in any way how it will reduce costs for parents.

cerealqueen Tue 29-Jan-13 22:13:50


I think we'd rather continue to be skint than pay for what will be reduced quality of childcare.

There would have to be a signifiant shift in the cost for me to return to work. Has anybody yet said what kind of reductions in cost they are expecting from this?

Meglet Tue 29-Jan-13 22:14:26


You need many pairs of hands to cuddle, play with and organise a group of small children.

I'm a bit gutted I'm at work next Thursday (DC at wonderful nursery with lots of staff to care for the children), I would have liked to watch the carnage unfold on the Liz Truss web chat as it happened grin.

XxCharlxX Tue 29-Jan-13 22:29:48

Hi mumset,
I currently work in a nursery and only just found out about the changed today,I'm really horrified and really angry about the changed being made, I currently earn £6.36 a hour and despite working in childcare i can't afford to put my own child into the nursery as its a lot more then my wage (£60 a day) I'm currently earning aound £50 a day this is before all my tax and ni is taken off so would be a lot less... The staff are all ready over stretched not only having to care for the children but do the eyfs paperwork for each child as this is checked by ofsted, health and safety checks garden checks etc... I agree with comments above that they will push more children into the nursery but pay will still be the same forcing the saftey of the children at risk as well as the staffs well being and mental health to its limits (if not all ready) and people wonder why people who work with children have a break down now you know why.... The wage for a nursery assistant nursery nurse is still very low lets just hope they keep to there world and will increase are pay to a descent wage (living wage would be fab) only time will tell if ill have a job or not and I hope for my family's sake I do as its taken both myself and my husband to work full time to be able to afford to live and if I lose my job I can't pay any of my bills forcing us to lose everything and be booted out on the street... Lets just hope and pray it doesn't go that far, god bless you all and goodnight

chandellina Tue 29-Jan-13 22:30:52

If everyone is so concerned about ratios in this country than why is it accepted that 4 year olds are thrust into a class of 30 with one teacher and maybe a shared ta?

PoppyK Tue 29-Jan-13 22:40:18

I'm a childminder cerealqueen, and have just been doing some basic calculations based on a childminder with all their pre-school places filled, providing a good service and charging the average rate for my area, and thus making just above minimum wage.

If said childminder took on four pre-schoolers rather than three (leaving aside the fact that I don't know any who want to), they could cut costs to parents by about £20 a week while keeping their salary the same. That wouldn't solve the problem of making the job any better paid though, so if they rewarded themselves with a £1 per hour pay rise, parents would be saved about £9 per week.

Not sure that this is going to either tempt parents back to work or childminders to take on extra work, buy a new buggy, high chairs, car seats etc. ...

TiggyD Tue 29-Jan-13 22:53:10

Signing a petition is great, but what would have a better effect is telling your nursery what you think of the idea.

PoppyK please cold you explain how your calculation works? It's not that I don't believe you, but probably like many people I don't really understand the costs involved in CM. If an extra toddler was with you for 10 hours per day x 5 days at £4 per hour (sorry, I don't know your local rate) that would be £200 per week. Obviously you would need extra food (say £25 per week) and activities (say £15 per week) but other than capital costs (buggy, car), I don't understand where the remaining £160 would go. split across 4 children it would be £40 per child, equivalent to a 20% decrease.

OddBoots Tue 29-Jan-13 23:05:58

'Two-year-old funding rate could leave providers out of pocket' dated 27th Nov 2012

"Mr Leitch said that the Alliance’s research showed that when compared to funding for three-and four-year-olds the minimum hourly rate required was significantly higher than £5.09 per hour indicated, particularly when taking into account the smaller staff to child ratio of 1:4 for working with two-year-olds, which is half the 1:8 staff to child ratio required for children aged three and over.

‘In other words, providers halve the ratios and double the costs. Indeed, one setting taking part in the pilot project said that the funding it was receiving of £6 per hour per two-year-old was "grossly inadequate" as many of the children needed one-to-one care.’"

There's more than one way to jiggle the figures and I don't think the government liked the idea of paying the true cost of quality care and education for the new scheme.

SamSmalaidh Tue 29-Jan-13 23:16:39

chandellina because there is a big difference between 1-2 years olds and 4-5 year olds?

searching4serenity Tue 29-Jan-13 23:24:07

This news has made me feel very queasy about ever using a nursery now. I think a nanny may be the only way to go.

Crazy idea.

As other posters have said - what about more flexible working for both parents? Grandparents even?

searching4serenity Tue 29-Jan-13 23:24:35

I think the Tories just hate women and children sometimes sad

FamiliesShareGerms Tue 29-Jan-13 23:26:02

There's a reason we normally have one baby at a time; occasionally have twins; and very rarely have triplets or more...

I await to hear from anyone reporting on even a single nursery who lowers their bills as a result of this change

And the really frustrating thing is that everyone agrees that there is scope to improve provision in this sector, but this peculiar proposal is the best that they have come up with?

lechatnoir Tue 29-Jan-13 23:35:48

Another cm who won't be changing either ratios or prices. I simply couldn't offer the same level of care & attention at the new ratios especially to very little ones hmm
I earn far less now than I ever did working shorter hours & paying for childcare, travel etc in my old office job (which obviously seemed hard at the time but my god isn't a patch on 10 hours with 3 under 3 with a couple of school children to feed & entertain stop from killing each other ) .

PoppyK Tue 29-Jan-13 23:50:45

My calculations were very basic ones breatheslowly! They have to be really because there are so many variables. I based it on a childminder having children for an average of 9 hours a day each, 4 days a week as that's what most childminders I know do. I realise this might give a skewed picture in that a childminder could have more income, but in my experience most parents don't want childcare 8-6 Monday-Friday, which in turn means childminders aren't at capacity 100% of the time. I'm also basing the hourly salary on all the hours childminders work (doing training, paperwork, preparation and cleaning up etc.) which aren't paid for directly and which would of course increase if you looked after more children.

So if you keep that salary the same then yes, the parents can get quite a good reduction (actually more like £30 a week than the £20 I originally said - late night mistake in my spreadsheet blush - but that salary isn't huge at around £7 an hour. The proposals are supposed to help increase childcare wages to attract high quality people to the profession, and if you want to do that and cut costs to parents you end up with the changes on both sides of the equation being pretty small.

I've put my spreadsheet here so you can see my workings out - as I said there are lots of variables and I've had to make some assumptions.

Goldenbear Wed 30-Jan-13 01:16:49

chandellina, as I pointed out further up the thread, Britain is NOT the only country to be concerned by ratios.

Want2bSupermum Wed 30-Jan-13 01:59:48

Here in Northern NJ childcare isn't cheap but it is a lot cheaper than it is in the UK. Rather than fiddle with ratios why don't the government allow nurseries to operate as charities and not tax them on any profit they make. Why not give a break to nursery workers so the government contributes their NI. Where I live the town wanted to make itself more desirable so have given the childcare facilities an exemption from paying property taxes on their buildings if they pass on the savings to parents.

There are so many more ways to reduce the cost of childcare that I don't think have been explored. FWIW I think the best solution is for the cost of childcare to be fully deductible against income if both parents are working. This is the only way to make it 'affordable'.

moogy1a Wed 30-Jan-13 07:23:29

MNHQ can this thread be sent to E.Truss the day before she comes on for the webchat? I think it would be useful for her to see the overwhelmingly negative response to her proposals

Tanith Wed 30-Jan-13 07:31:28

Liz Truss hasn't bothered to visit British childcare settings and she hasn't asked parents what they want. She just set off on a jolly fact-finding mission around the world.
She has ignored all the nurseries, childminders, Early Years experts who have, for months, been telling her why her ideas won't work here. She is still banging on about agencies for childminders despite being told that they are not wanted and are actually a failed experiment in Holland, where they were introduced.

Really, her arrogance is breath-taking!

chandellina Wed 30-Jan-13 07:39:16

I don't think it's wrong to want to improve the system. The current system isn't that great. The biggest catalyst for improvement would be government subsidies of nurseries to allow higher wages and a better standard of operations, and tax breaks for employing a nanny. I think ratios are a bit of a sideshow.

moogy1a Wed 30-Jan-13 07:39:30

OK, I might be being very thick her, but if this proposal is meant to benefit parents, and the vast majority of parents are against it, then why would she introduce it? In what way does it benefit the government? I'm assuming there's some sort of aulterior motive but can't think what.

Meglet Wed 30-Jan-13 07:40:33

chandelina I'm not impressed with school teacher + TA ratios TBH. I'd like to see a couple of TA's per class. If I could shout about that and get it improved I would. But all the same I wouldn't like to see nursery ratios messed about with.

AngiBolen Wed 30-Jan-13 07:43:34


I've signed this petition, which mummybare linked to earlier in this thread.

I'm too angry about this to actually post anything constructive atm.

OddBoots Wed 30-Jan-13 07:45:29

Moogy, see my post above about how the big plan to fund deprived 2-year-olds was falling apart because the government didn't want to pay the levels needed to fund it.

A change of ratios is a back-door way of making it cheaper for the government, settings where parents make the choice to attend will keep their ratios. The parents of funded 2-year-olds will have to take it or leave it.

Cat98 Wed 30-Jan-13 07:45:59

Another thinking these proposals are awful. I agree with most of the negative comments on this thread. Why, why don't they do something that enables parents to care for their own children during the first 2-3 years if they so wish?
And who are these people getting childcare help from the govt - seems to me to be only the absolute lowest paid. We didn't qualify and joint income is under £30k...?

Weissbier Wed 30-Jan-13 08:01:35

We have 1:6 in Germany in nurseries. You have to hold your nerve as a British parent when you realise you aren't going to get a better ratio than that, and sometimes it's less, because they're less strict about cover when someone's ill.

I haven't - touch wood - seen any evidence of that ratio being inadequate, or of staff struggling with it. There is however much less regulation than in Britain, it is more like when I was at school in the 1980s. They do have regulations, like police checking new staff applicants and there is a scale of qualifications, but the whole thing is much less litigious and time-consuming, even with a lot more kids per head.

The cost is manageable but nursery is still a huge source of stress to working parents because it is God's own job to get a place. The state nurseries have two-year waiting lists. The reason for this is that although Germany is trying to build more nurseries, there are not enough staff to fill them, and this is because they get paid about 1000€ net. a month. There are just as many debates about nursery provision here as in the UK but hardly anyone seems to mention the staff wages, nor do I hear much about this issue from Truss. Surely the government, British or German, has to increase their subsidies so that staff - childminders, as well - get paid more? To reflect that regardless of what GCSEs you have, looking after very small children is one of the most important jobs there is? You are totally responsible for their safety, the consequences can be unimaginable if you screw up, you are the reason women can pursue careers outside the home...and it is very hard work, you don't get tea breaks or lunch breaks. Why do I get paid FOUR TIMES as much for doing classical music all day? Not much happens if I play a wrong note.

If staff are paid more, more people will want to do it, and more good people. This positively impacts on everything: ratios, quality of care, and availability of places. And if the government are putting more in, then nurseries would be able (or be required, in the state sector) to lower their fees. As everyone's said, no British nursery is going to lower fees just because they are to sink their ratios. They'll need any surplus from the old fee scale to bring in cover all the time when overworked and demotivated staff call in sick or leave.

Good-quality childcare is a social issue, like welfare, health, education, pensions. In a civilised society, it has to be supported by the government, that is, by the tax payer.

olgaga Wed 30-Jan-13 08:25:22

I see this thread has been picked up by Judith Woods writing in the Torygraph, who has quoted TiggyD and stormforce10!

hrod Wed 30-Jan-13 08:28:11

The more I read about other mums' rage, the more helpless I feel. How can it be that the Govt aren't taking this seriously enough to actually put money into it? Because that's what it's about: the state actually helping young families, instead of crucifying them. These proposals are lazy, dreamt up by Ministers saying: how can we make an announcement to pacify families, whilst actually not spending anything or doing anything?

We live in Germany, and our 10-month DD1 has just started Kindergarten. Ratio of carers to children: 1:5, sometimes 1:6. The kids are all under 2. She absolutely loves it, and the children all seem very happy. But here's the real point: we pay €110 per month for 25 hours of childcare a week. Because it's run by the state, supported by the state.

The govt is deflecting the debate away from what's actually at stake here. How are families who can't rope a family member into caring for free supposed to build a life for themselves, when paying up to a grand a month in chilldcare? The fact is that while other European countries support future generations (and the families entrusted to bring them up) we cripple those families. And no one seems to be on the streets protesting against this. I say, let's mobilise.

And by the way: next move for us is probably Denmark. As much as we'd love to, we just can't afford to move home.

olgaga Wed 30-Jan-13 08:50:09

Deregulating numbers will certainly not bring the cost of childcare down. Prices will stay exactly as they are. The only difference will be that childminders will be able to look after more children and earn a living wage for the hard work they do 10 hours a day - and children will be sat in front of CBeebies more often.

I think that in areas where there is no shortage of childminders and nursery places parents will pay the same for a worse service. However, parents who want their children looked after in a smaller setting will no doubt see their costs increase. A free market means getting what you pay for. Particularly in areas where there is a shortage of childcare, childminders will charge more for a better, more exclusive service.

When my friend looks after 3 children, which she regularly does - I think it's one 4yo and two under 3 - she barely gets time to carry out the Ofsted requirements as it is. She's constantly changing nappies, potty training, feeding, putting them down to sleep. She never stops all day, in quiet moments she catches up with her Ofsted-required observations.

She also has to take her own young children to and from school, as most CMs do. Daily outings - which are also part of the Ofsted regime - are a mammoth task as it is with a triple buggy or having to strap them all into the car when the weather is poor.

The simple fact is, most good CMs would balk at looking after more than 3 children anyway.

The only people who will benefit from deregulation will be the owners of private nurseries, who will be able to pack more children in and turn more of a profit. Most nursery workers will continue to be low paid, usually young with basic training and qualifications and "working towards Level 3".

The notion that a GCSE C grade or above in maths and English will make one bit of difference to whether you are a capable carer of pre-school children is frankly absurd. As is the notion that anyone with GCSE maths and English would go into childcare anyway!

There's simply no such thing as cheap childcare unless your own family is prepared to do it for love and expenses only.

mam29 Wed 30-Jan-13 09:03:40

I think reception rations are too high anyway reckon they need 2 tas and 1 teacher.

Its why I want dd2 to go village school in rception class of 20 and 1 ta.

I dared to read the daily mail-please dont judge me online wouldent buy it.

But argument seems to be

non parents resent having to fund childcare
Some say that peoples choice to have kids so their problem not the state.

3rdly sahm mums are lazy and shouldent be paid to stay at home and some resent the free 15hours which is education really and 3hour sessions by time drop off time to pick back up again.

I grew up i single parent family where mum had odd jobs but family always stepped in free childcare both sets granparents and 3aunts .

I dont live anywhere near my family and mil wont have them.

I quite envy people who get free family help but most people move as thats where work is and nothing for us in smalll rural town where grew up rubbish schools, no jobs expensive housing.

I never really felt surestart spread very far wasent in my area not all had nurseries even hv said wouldent bother its not aimed at you.

The councils have huge push on nurseries and preschools to take funded 2year old promising extra support but as soon as they turn 3 the support gets taken away then they left with difficult child who has language, pottry training or behavioural issues.

I have witnessed how a difficult child has disruped sessions, stressed out staff, kids being hit and how much time they take away from others..I dread to think how frazzled they be with higher rations and 2/6 kids were difficult.

My dds nurserys not perfect but shes safe, happy and has freinds.
for me nursery wins over childminder as socialisation aspect.

Childminders vary so much we met one who was so odd.
I wouldent chose 1 who had their own child at you age as would worry other kids woulde be secondry that its just covieniant for them,.

If childminder had older school age kids and took them out and about and had nice large house I would.

I have met some good ones but often see them and wonder how they cope now with current ratios.

Its quite depressing ish we could move abroad as feel squeezed in every direction in uk. I worry about quality of life.

drizzlecake Wed 30-Jan-13 09:09:37

Have signed petition and even donated a bit.

I have added my tuppence here

What I still can't understand is why childminders (or nurseries) would take on extra work, hassle and all round headache just to pass the savings onto parents.

I would expect my childcare bill to be substantially cheaper with higher ratios so they'd be giving themselves more work for no personal benefit.


Fuchi Wed 30-Jan-13 09:32:21

We really, really must oppose these changes. I would love to hear more from people with experience of France etc as I bet the ratios are disguised by the fact that parents / other types of helpers are used.
There is absolutely no getting around the fact that small children need more one to one attention than older children. My 15-month-old has been teething recently and has had to be picked up and cuddled regularly by her main carer and others working in the baby room. There is simply no way that could have happened as often with a higher ratio of children to staff. There are lots of similar examples. This change will mean lots of mothers who cannot afford nannies - and who believe in the value of nurseries - feeling they cannot send their children when they are very small as the care simply will not be as good. This will really hit many working class and middle class families. Of course it will be fine for those with plenty of cash, as they can always go down the nanny route. The Govt needs to be spending more money on early years education and care, not less. This is not an area that should be cut. Like front line services in the NHS it should be completely protected. This really is an example of the Conservatives being anti women.

ReallyTired Wed 30-Jan-13 09:32:50

European countries where nursery staff cater for loads of children are allowed to exclude children with special needs. A nursery teacher can look after more children if they are all potty trained and have no behavioural problems.

However the UK is different in that our nurseries cannot turn away a child for being nappies or being too much like hard work.

hrod Wed 30-Jan-13 10:04:01

Agree, Fuchi

Chunderella Wed 30-Jan-13 10:16:48

Chandellina of course it isn't wrong to want to improve the system, and there's plenty of room to do so. It's just that these proposals aren't it. As for the staff ratio for reception kids, I'm not entirely in love with that either but there's a huge difference between a 4 year old and a baby. Most 4 year olds will be toilet trained, mobile and able to eat a meal themselves, a lot of them will be capable of sitting reasonably quietly and getting on with activities, and most won't need to be watched like hawks to avoid them causing serious injury to themselves. You just don't need as much crowd control. Obviously in an ideal world there'd be more staff in infant school classes too.

Fraktion you don't necessarily need a C at GCSE maths to be able to understand the material in FE and HE childcare courses, though. My cousin got a D in GCSE maths. She was able to get her childcare diploma at college, work in the sector in many different settings for several years, and is now coming to the end of a bachelors in Early Years. I agree that people need to be competent in numeracy and particularly literacy to be able to do well on the course, but not that this requires a C at GCSE.

Mam29 you mention unacademic nursery workers then strong regional accents straight afterwards. I assume you know the two aren't mutually exclusive? There are those amongst us who are extremely academic and sport strong accents too.

Lastly, I reckon Liz Truss will cancel the webchat on some trumped up bullshit excuse. You heard it here first.

Astr0naut Wed 30-Jan-13 10:46:44

The magic 'C' at GCSE constantly annoys me - especially now they've moved the bar.

I've seen countless kids over the years not quite make the C in English, usually ending up with a D. Does this mean they can't communicate orally? In the case of my current yr 11 - hell no. Does it mean they can't communicate on paper? No, it just means they may not use a full range of punctuation or be able to apply the correct techniques when writing an essay about their best holiday or a speech arguing for more bins in school.

There's no way changing ratios will affect affordability of childcare. The more savvy childcare providers will still have smaller ratios - and advertise the fact - and charge more for a better service. Parents, who naturally want the best, will pay more for smaller ratios.

fraktion Wed 30-Jan-13 10:56:36

xenia the BAPN are concerned that what you say will happen. If these workers are deemed not good enough to care for children when there are other staff around why the hell are they leaving nannies completely unregulated? These childcare workers will go somewhere.

chandellina the C is arbitrary, agreed, but who decide a C was a 'pass' anyway? It's just one of those generally accepted things that noone had ever bothered to challenge. We have a crap attitude to maths in this country. It's ok to be no good at it and that's shameful. In a way it's even more important that we have good mathematicians in early years and pro art. I'm not talking about whizzes at calculus or trigonometry but people who are confident with maths.

In France some settings choose not to work at maximum capacity, DS's nursery is headed by a qualified nurse who spends about 50% of time doing management and 50% with the children and all the staff have the diplome d'état (rather than the CAP) chooses not to have the maximum regularly. She will go up to the max in an emergency for a parent she knows well and I think 1 session is chockablock. I still find there are a huge number of children, they're very keen that the afternoon session naps, they don't do a huge number of activities because they don't have the capacity but they're in a mixed age room which I quite like. Only once a child is toilet trained and can walk confidently will they count in the 1:8 ratio but there's pressure to potty train at 2 on the dot. If they go out then the ratio she uses is 1:2 and that's made up with parent helpers. When DS goes to maternelle, possibly next Jan at 2.9, possibly next September at 3.5 it won't be like school, the activities are more structured in terms of time and the ratios are crazy but they focus a lot on discipline, following instructions and rules to ensure safety and directed play with clear pedagogical aims.

All of that said the expectations are wildly different. There Isuzu more emphasis on confirming in French culture in general, mathsc science and logic are the focus of education with humanities and languages coming a poor second. Respect for 'professions' is normal - you don't question what your doctor, teacher or lawyer says, even if (as a foreigner) you think their judgement may be a bit skewed and heaven forbid you try to try to add pertinent information off your own bat. Partnership with parents doesn't really enter into it.

Most of that is totally normal for them but an anathema for British people, yet it's practically a foundation of the system. There is no way you can compare directly. It would take a cultural shift, of which relaxed ratios may well be a start, but Britain has a tradition of aspiring to individualised childcare, rather than institutionalised.

fraktion Wed 30-Jan-13 10:58:02

Sorry that second was to chunderella

fraktion Wed 30-Jan-13 11:01:01

In fact maybe instead of the C at GCSE they should just put potential childcare workers through the QTS tests. Those are supposed to be a C, aren't they? And it's a lot more functional than a GCSE, they exist and are computer based do it shouldn't take too much time to administer.

The GCSE C grade was probably Professor Nutbrown working with the current system anyway, given that she proposed 17 changes it was probably sensible not to recommend another!

Xenia Wed 30-Jan-13 11:01:19

The great thing about nannies is that market forces can apply. If the loving with lots of experience responsible great girl who may not have a single exam to her name is what you want you can hire her. Free markets always work best. If she ends up useless then you sack her and obviously you probably need someone who can read and communicate but I am not sure they need C GCSE english for that. We are talking about someone being responsible, changing nappies, being patient, taking the baby out for walks etc etc.

Is there a requirement for a C at GCSE to do the NVQ level 3 in childcare?
The reason for asking is that a Nanny can be registered with OFTSTED (and therefore paid in childcare vouchers) if they have the NVQ level 3.

I think if this goes ahead it will lead to many more Nanny-shares who are basically childminders but don't work from their own home.

Chunderella Wed 30-Jan-13 11:15:11

We do have a crap attitude to maths fraktion that's true. But it's clear that you don't necessarily need to be particularly numerate to be a good early years worker and to hold high level qualifications in the field. You raise a good point that this may lead to less respect for those working in the field, but that's not an easy one to solve.

fraktion Wed 30-Jan-13 11:21:30

travelin it depends on the college (although the NVQ doesn't exist anymore and that was the favoured route for those who didn't meet the requirements for the DCE). Some of them now refuse to accept those without it because they have to take students out of what they're actually supposed to be going to get them up to scratch. And you can be registered with level 2.

The only good thing in the proposals is a little more respect for the qualifications and training of the staff. Overall higher ratio's of children to adults will result in poorer care.
In my experience of working in early years over many years the ratio's are often not what they seem anyway. So, say you have six babies and two staff one may be busy with one to one care eg. changing nappies and the other will be looking after the other 5 babies. So with the new proposals that would be one person left with 7 babies. The same sort of thing applies with the over two's and their new ratio's. Some children need close to one to one care and this hasn't always been established/ funding put in place in the early years. Then there are lunch-times that need covering etc. There needs to be some "give" in the system. If the ratio's are to be changed I hope they'll be applied more strictly (but I doubt they will be)
Hopefully YSWIM smile

vezzie Wed 30-Jan-13 11:32:30

People are posting the petition link - great - please sign everyone!
Someone also posted the link to take part in consultation. Please please please do this too, it is a little more timeconsuming but you do get the opportunity to write your own views in your own words, and I beg you all to do this.

The questions are skewed but you can still get your points across.

I am furious and sad and anxious about this, it is so so so wrongheaded - as you all know.
(Haven't been on mn for while, came back last Friday because of this and started a couple of threads on it - knew I could rely on you all to be right about this!)

CoffeeOne Wed 30-Jan-13 11:36:22

Having previously worked in a nursery I just can't imagine this being good for anyone. A big NO vote for me. It makes me that bit more grateful that we're lucky to have granddparents helping with childcare.

vezzie Wed 30-Jan-13 11:43:29

"No, it just means they may not use a full range of punctuation or be able to apply the correct techniques when writing an essay about their best holiday or a speech arguing for more bins in school."

In the absence of any specific learning difficulty, a person of 16 who can't string a sentence together on paper or use punctuation they should have mastered in primary is probably in this situation because they are a) thick or b) have spent most of their time at secondary pissing about in lessons.

I really don't want someone who is thick or a slacker looking after my children.

vezzie Wed 30-Jan-13 11:54:31

Agree - Truss won't show, like Cable.
If she does, I also agree that she be asked to look after 4 x 2-year-olds for the hour, while doing the chat (equivalent to being a CM filling in the observations). We'll ask her if she has a degree first - if she has, she'll be fine, obv.
MNHQ, do you have a webcam in your office?

OddBoots Wed 30-Jan-13 11:58:42

A good point JugglingFromHereToThere - in fact with toilet-training 2-year-olds one child can often need two members of staff - one to change the child and one to clear up the puddle.

There is however no exception for lunch times as far as I know, a member of staff on a lunch break doesn't allow ratio to be broken the right number of staff should be in the sight and hearing of the children most of the time and in the sight or hearing all of the time (as per the EYFS).

Well, when I've worked in nurseries in the past ratio's have been stretched early mornings, late afternoons, and lunch-times because staff working 8 till 4 or 10 till 6, but nursery open 8 till 6, and obviously lunch-times often a tricky time too to give all staff a lunch break. I've often been the only adult in a room with a large number of children sometimes of assorted ages.

tholeon Wed 30-Jan-13 12:10:12

I think this is pretty appalling. Children learn the fundamentals of life under three: how to love and be loved, how to have a basic respect for others, not to mention how to go to the toilet and eat without throwing it all on the floor. Helping them to do this is vital, important work, which takes compassion, patience and understanding, and most importantly, time. The ability to pass a maths or English exam I would say is pretty irrelevant.

meadow2 Wed 30-Jan-13 12:18:17

Cat98-you should get tax credits towards it

HannahsSister40 Wed 30-Jan-13 12:18:26

interesting to see Xenia on this thread. Have you changed your mind Xenia, I know you think childcare work is dull drudge work any old idiot can do?

So, my point really, I wouldn't want to see ratio's stretched any further than they often already are.

Astr0naut Wed 30-Jan-13 12:44:44

But that's my point, Titty, getting a D does not mean you can't string a sentence together. It just means you're not great with punctuation other than full stops and commas. It certainly doesn't mean you're thick.

How many nursery observations do you read with sentences warranting semi-colons and brackets?

FunnysInLaJardin Wed 30-Jan-13 13:04:31

I heard Penny Webb on R4 last night and am off to sign the petition. The government are very very wrong if they think that this will in anyway improve the current situation. Well done Penny!

DD's nursery observations may not always be perfectly written, but the meaning is very clear. As DD is 2 she can't read, so doesn't read the observations and learn incorrect spelling, punctuation or grammar. Would I describe the staff as "thick" - no, they are (probably) less academic than me, but have a different and very valuable skill set.

Don't agree Astro0naut.

I taught GCSE English retake for 10 years in an FE college.

The intake comprised: kids with undiagnosed dyslexia; kids who really just weren't that bright; boys (mostly) and some girls who'd pissed around the whole way through secondary.

Kids learn how to write in sentences at primary. They learn how to use speech marks, apostrophes, colons and semi-colons. They learn how to structure a paragraph and a longer piece of writing. Really if they haven't mastered these BASIC skills by the end of secondary there's something wrong.

Yes - marks are taken away for poor or missing punctuation, but to end up with a D you have to be quite weak in English to start with.

Bellbird Wed 30-Jan-13 13:29:37

I started my eldest (now 10) at a nursery when she was 6 months old. The ratio was supposed to be fairly good, but one child (not quite sure why as we pulled her out of there) seemed to be getting constant 1:1 while my daughter must have been ignored a lot as she came back unable to smile and interact properly with blisters on a raw bum. Our GP said it wasn't worth the risk.

The actual common sense, quality of interaction and compassion shown in any care setting is what matters. It is just the same with old people's homes and hospitals: If the staff are academically qualified but don't have the sense, decency and practicality to handle a few children, then having more children on their watch will only make things worse. I agree that in some countries the higher ratios can work, but it would be interesting to find out what makes those care settings run so well. I assume that the staff are highly conscientious in the way good teachers are?

Cat98 Wed 30-Jan-13 13:42:40

We don't get tax credits towards childcare, we applied and were rejected - it is because I'm part time? Joint income is too high apparently but as I say it's just under £30k which doesn't seem that high to me, I think a poster further back said only v rich don't get thelp..?

Bellbird Wed 30-Jan-13 14:07:18

Cat98, the point about tax credits is fair enough. There has been a lot in the press recently about the child benefit cuts, but they didn't appear to hark back to the tax credit cuts which were in many ways worse as they affected the lower-middle incomes earlier on. It was just the start of a slippery slope, as many just 'afford' the essentials (food, heating, utilities, petrol) and not much besides. The difference may have only been about £500 + childcare: That is a lot for some people - it equates to a huge amount in childcare; Christmas, a family holiday including spending money and school uniform in many ordinary families. Obviously, many of the politicians making these decisions would not have a clue how to stretch their money that far!

cheapandchic Wed 30-Jan-13 14:12:24

This is a huge step backward not just for the well being of children (for all the reasons already stated) but for womens rights.

It will only make more and more women stay out of the workforce and return at later dates to lower salaries.

Xenia Wed 30-Jan-13 14:13:55

Hannah, what do you mean? I said you don't need the GCSEs to be a nanny and if good nursery workers lose their jobs through the new measures they might be able to double their pay by becoming nannies. I don't think that is any kind of change of my position at all. let the free market decide, less regulation not more.

meadow2 Wed 30-Jan-13 14:25:22

Cat98- We have parents on 30kish and still claim quite a bit, but I think it depends on how much the higher earner in the family takes home