WEBCHAT GUIDELINES 1. One question per member plus one follow-up once you've had a response. 2. Keep your question brief 3. Don't moan if your question doesn't get answered. 4. Do be civil/polite. See full guidelines here.

Live webchat about childcare reform with Liz Truss, Education & Childcare Minister, Thursday 7 February, 1pm

(408 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 06-Feb-13 13:14:14

Hello hello,

We'll be welcoming the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare - Elizabeth Truss MP - for a webchat on Thursday Feb 7th (tomorrow) 1pm - 2pm.

As the Member of Parliament for South West Norfolk, Elizabeth Truss lives in Downham Market with her husband and two daughters. She was brought up in Yorkshire and, before entering Parliament, worked as the Deputy Director at the think-tank Reform. She also worked in the energy and telecommunications industry for 10 years and is a qualified management accountant.

Elizabeth recently wrote a Mumsnet guest blog on the Government's plans for childcare reform, which generated this recent thread - and childcare expert Penelope Leach responded to the proposals here.

Do post your question in advance on this thread, or join us live on Thursday 1pm-2pm.

And, as ever, a gentle reminder to all to stick to our webchat guidelines.

Many thanks.

blondieminx Fri 10-May-13 13:11:13

It looks like this is going to run and run - for anyone interested, here is the BBC's leaked copies of the correspondence between Nick Clegg and Liz Truss on the ratio's issue

Apparently Clegg said he'd given clearance for a consultation (of which this webchat formed a part) and not for the policy. hmm.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 28-Apr-13 19:48:45

Hello,

We just wanted to give you an update on the childcare ratios issue following this webchat. Of the 407 posts, the Minister’s voice in support of the plans was singular – parents, voters and childcare workers spoke out in force and unanimously against increases to childcare ratios. The message we received was clear: there is precious little support on Mumsnet for this policy.

Because of this, numerous threads on Mumsnet, and knowing that just 5% of surveyed Mumsnetters said they’d be happy to see the number of childcare staff reduced (even if that meant the cost of childcare was to fall), we've been in touch with the Pre-school Learning Alliance's and are happy to be backing its campaign “Rewind on Ratios”.

The “Rewind on Ratios” campaign calls on the Government to scrap its plans on childcare ratios changes, and to undertake a full consultation with practitioners and parents on future proposals. They highlight concerns for both child safety and child support, if childcare ratios are to be relaxed (you can read more about this here.) They're asking parents to sign their official Government e-petition and the Alliance's paper petition; currently around 22,000 parents have backed the campaign.

JustineMumsnet announced Mumsnet's backing of "Rewind on Ratios", saying: 'There's a lot of concern amongst Mumsnet users about the Government's plans to relax childcare ratios. Four babies under the age of one seems like a lot for even the most experienced childcare worker to manage. When we surveyed our members about the cost of childcare, only 5% of parents supported ratio relaxation even if it meant lower costs. We really do think the Government needs to rethink its plans.'

OddBoots Sun 03-Mar-13 17:38:21

Childcare ratios 'could hit nurseries in poor areas'

'The warning comes after the Pre-School Learning Alliance condemned the planned changes at a conference on childcare.

Its chief executive Neil Leitch said: "Never in the past 12 years have I seen so much hostility towards a single initiative as this one. Why? Because we believe it entirely conflicts with the aim of putting the child first."

He said a recent survey for his organisation had found that 94% of group day care providers thought the quality of their childcare would diminish if ratios were altered.

"Yet, you would think that given around 70% of costs relate to staff wages, providers would be rushing out of their nursery doors jumping for joy at the prospect of increasing revenue - but it's the reverse."'

Why is this still being pushed through when so many still think it is a wrong and dangerous thing to do?

SouthernPolish Thu 28-Feb-13 10:54:31

NEW PETITION against agencies!
http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/liz-truss-stop-plans-for-childminder-agencies
Please SIGN share / tweet!
:-D

SouthernPolish Wed 13-Feb-13 21:33:11

Some Childminders in Northants have received an email / letter to attend a meeting with Elizabeth Truss. It state that response to her proposals so far has been negative, so please can Childminders to are positive about joining an agency or at least open minded respond and attend.
!!!!!!
If you are in Northants and have received this could you please post up a copy of the full text.
Has anyone else, elsewhere in the country received a similar communication.

I do believe Elizabeth Truss is seeking her 'lots and lots' of supporters....

vezzie Mon 11-Feb-13 17:08:53

"They seem more and more dependent on extra-constitutional means for generating perceived legitimacy. Which means lots of quasi-consultation and milking of social media. "

- which is why social media should not require social standards of politeness, but quasi-parliamentary. This is not like the MP turning up to your at-home and you forbearing to mention that his policies are caddish.

FloatyBeatie Mon 11-Feb-13 15:59:18

But yes re catharsis. Perhaps there should be a Paxman test -- if it can be said to a guest on Newsnight it can be said on an MN webchat.

FloatyBeatie Mon 11-Feb-13 15:44:01

Trouble is, policy isn't what happens at elections anymore. Low turnout, a perverse voting system, and the complete failure of the party system to function as a channel for mass participation in the formation of two coherent sets of political principles all mean that we don't really have any constitutional means for conferring a sense of legitimacy on govt's chosen policies. And that is exacerbated when, like this govt, they throw out radical policy innovations that weren't remotely anticipated in the manifesto or talked through in the election.

They seem more and more dependent on extra-constitutional means for generating perceived legitimacy. Which means lots of quasi-consultation and milking of social media.

vezzie Mon 11-Feb-13 15:20:41

Well yes this is obviously nothing to do with what happens with policy, (which is what happens at elections, which is when the party with the majority - erm - kill me now), it's just that this sort of headmistressrsy obstructs catharsis. I want my Bob Geldof moment, dammit.

FloatyBeatie Mon 11-Feb-13 14:50:19

"stuffing irrelevant facts like an overstretched CM stuffing biscuits into children's mouths" was good vezzie. grin

It's so easy to mistake what these political webchats are. They aren't consultations, for sure, and they don't amount to any kind of serious democratic accountability, either: with a few dozen questions chosen for answer from an unrepresentative sample they aren't a greater source of accountability than, e.g., a meet-and-greet in a local shopping centre.

I think that in MN's past both politicians and MN have reaped kudos from political webchats (and strange threads on which "our opinion is sought" for some governmental purpose or another) being perceived as something like a consultation or a serious holding to account. I always thought that was a bit dangerous. Happily, the significance of these webchats is much much clearer nowadays, because they have to stand alongside lots of sponsored discussions, Q&As from business and celebrities with stuff to sell, and other such commercial content. So it is easier to see them as simple attempts to stir up publicity for a product -- attempts that take seriously the advertising wisdom that even negative talk can aid your brand, provided you surf it adequately.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 11-Feb-13 14:27:09

vezzie

Don't know if there was a fb group about this - the one that Bicnod mentioned is our antenatal group, April 09 - so not really relevant!

I accept that MN thought that "are you stupid?" was rude and deleted it, but the comment I made about Truss stuffing irrelevant facts like an overstretched CM stuffing biscuits into children's mouths.... well ok it was a bit flippant, but nothing compared to bogstandard argy-bargy in the House of Commons. It was a relevant point - Truss was really bombastically and complacently refusing to answer questions.

I am quite pissed off actually that such a broad definition of "rude" pertains here. What is the point of inviting guests if they can ride roughshod over us like this and no one is allowed to comment? I get that MNHQ have to retain a cosy tea party atmosphere to keep high profile guests coming on, but that sort of bossy censorship goes too far in the sense that it substantively censors the debate - it's not like deleting a few random insults. I was pointing out - yes flippantly, but is that a crime? - that Truss was being really disrespectful to the substantive nature of the questions, and it got swept away in case the precious flower was upset. She doesn't need protection from us. She is an MP in the HOC for heaven's sake.

I am reporting this post, and reinstating my mn-retirement.

Well, yes, we certainly think we should go for higher standards of civility than the House of Commons Vezzie (although that's not such a high bar smile). Disagree, as said, that Liz Truss was refusing to answer questions, though certainly answers were not what many wanted to hear.

vezzie Mon 11-Feb-13 14:13:28

Don't know if there was a fb group about this - the one that Bicnod mentioned is our antenatal group, April 09 - so not really relevant!

I accept that MN thought that "are you stupid?" was rude and deleted it, but the comment I made about Truss stuffing irrelevant facts like an overstretched CM stuffing biscuits into children's mouths.... well ok it was a bit flippant, but nothing compared to bogstandard argy-bargy in the House of Commons. It was a relevant point - Truss was really bombastically and complacently refusing to answer questions.

I am quite pissed off actually that such a broad definition of "rude" pertains here. What is the point of inviting guests if they can ride roughshod over us like this and no one is allowed to comment? I get that MNHQ have to retain a cosy tea party atmosphere to keep high profile guests coming on, but that sort of bossy censorship goes too far in the sense that it substantively censors the debate - it's not like deleting a few random insults. I was pointing out - yes flippantly, but is that a crime? - that Truss was being really disrespectful to the substantive nature of the questions, and it got swept away in case the precious flower was upset. She doesn't need protection from us. She is an MP in the HOC for heaven's sake.

I am reporting this post, and reinstating my mn-retirement.

SouthernPolish Mon 11-Feb-13 09:22:54

A FB group has been mentioned - cant find it, could somebody DM me details? Ta.

BoffinMum Sat 09-Feb-13 09:55:06

Well that webchat went well, didn't it?grin

noviewsonbiscuits Fri 08-Feb-13 20:14:55

This is one of the most depressing webchats I've ever seen, and believe me, I've seen a few politicians getting mauled. Like others I cannot decide whether the Minister is just dim (4 under 2s as a normal family set up, WTF), set up by Dave as token lady-to-talk-to-ladies-about-lady-things or simply in the pockets of the large nursery chains who support this as a way of making more cash.
If anyone does know of any planned demonstrations on this one, please let me know. I'd be more than happy to take DD2 in her buggy as she enjoys shouting and waving things.

sheilaturn Fri 08-Feb-13 18:38:02

I am really sorry I missed the webinar as in meetings all day. I am a nursery owner, a teacher, a mother, a grandmother, I employ 35 staff. Every one of them is qualified to Level 3 and 7 are graduates with 2 holding QTS. I am a tutor and assessor in childcare. I will never change my ratios as we are open from 7.30 in a morning until 6 at night and even having a degree does not enable you to look after 4 babies or 6 2 year olds for this length of time alone. Its just madness. I work in one of the most deprived areas of the country and we cannot expect parents to pay much more than they do.
Sort out VAT for nurseries
Stop business rates for nurseries
Stop tax fraud - have voucher schemes for childcare
Bring back the Childrens Workforce Development Council
Have a Workforce Development Fund for practioners to gain qualifications
Pay settings for having EYP/QTS
Make a Level 2 the least qualification an Early Years Worker should hold. There are some fabulous practioners out there who do not need/ want a degree but are great with children. You will loose too many good practioners.
I cannot comment on foreign settings as have never been but I think Ms Truss needs to visit a flexible day care nursery open 10 hours a day, 5 days a week. 51 weeks of the year or a childminder in this region. The offer is open to you.
Mumsnet can have my name and setting.

SouthernPolish Fri 08-Feb-13 17:31:05

Oh and another massive THANK YOU to Mumsnet!

SouthernPolish Fri 08-Feb-13 17:25:52

I have just re-visited the 'crime scene' that was yesterday's webchat and re-read it. Wish I hadn't - made me angry all over again.

I'm fearing Liz Truss is so arrogant and thick-skinned that she will just plough on regardless. I could not believe it when she insinuated that the NCMA had been in agreement. I was thumping the kitchen table when she kept ducking that one.

Am wondering if, petitions aside, a proper demo complete with prams might be the best way of drawing more attention and making her realise she's not going to get away with this one?

neolara Fri 08-Feb-13 17:02:34

I've just signed and replied to the consultation. Thanks for putting up the link.

Thanks for your response Justine. I think everybody on the thread agrees that the behaviour of Liz Truss here is how politicians typically deal with dissent. It's just very depressing every time you see it. Mumsnet has a lot of influence. The response from mumsnet members has been utterly united on this issue. We need to make sure that voice is being heard.

Lostonthemoors Fri 08-Feb-13 15:54:10

Signed! Thank you for the link Vezzie.

vezzie Fri 08-Feb-13 15:46:38

Hi Justine - thank you for explaining - and for giving that quote to the Mail on Sunday!

Everyone else - don't forget there is an official consultation about this as well as the petition. These are two ways to have your views officially recorded.

https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/department-for-education-drop-plans-to-increase-child-to-adult-ratios?utm_source=action_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=17245&alert_id=wFgXwNXbDI_WAfOuHNOyC

www.education.gov.uk/schools/careers/payandpensions/a00220966/early-educ-childcare-staff-deploy

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 08-Feb-13 14:50:15

FunnysInLaJardin

'Very pleased to say that the Minister is hear and will be kicking off shortly.'

You can tell it was a serious web chat. No one picked Justine up on the above grin

Cripes.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 08-Feb-13 14:44:51

I don't think there's any need for a statement - the media are fully aware of this webchat - we sent out a press release and a heads up beforehand and indeed many of them regularly use MN so I'm quite sure it will get referenced. It would be odd to pre-empt something that is imho unlikely to happen and to be honest would be a bit rude to our webchat guest - assuming they are going to misrepresent the situation.

We are however continuing to reflect the view that the strong evidence from MN (survey and forum) is that our users don't support and increase in childcare ratios. Just given a quote to the Mail on Sunday on this very issue.

blondieminx Fri 08-Feb-13 14:32:26

<adds to calls for MN statement>

I am just so furious that Truss could ever think the proposed ratios would provide safe care, and that when she "answered" my question she was so glib and vague and ignored my suggestion that she actually went and tried doing the job she's proposing to inflict on childcare providers angry angry angry.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now