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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.

The quoted rationale for reform has been to raise quality and manage costs. One of the concerns expressed specifically about increased ratios is that nurseries will simply increase the numbers in a room without either decreasing fees or freezing increases. How does the Minister propose to mitigate against this risk?

NickNacks Wed 06-Feb-13 13:40:39

Is that not today?

not that I wish to point out your error your gracious smile

NickNacks Wed 06-Feb-13 13:46:58

And following northern's question...

I am a registered childminder. Do you really think it is going to improve quality of childcare to increase ratios? We will be expected to reduce fees for more work. Also more resources needed, car seats, larger car, high chairs, cots etc as well as higher food costs and activity fees. I certainly couldn't afford to earn any less than I do now. I am working a 50 hour week for approx £9,000 PA. I'm in the south east. And you want us to worker harded for less???

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 06-Feb-13 13:51:08

NickNacks

Is that not today?

--not that I wish to point out your error your gracious smile--

oopsy - txs

ChestyLeRoux Wed 06-Feb-13 13:53:41

If nursery staff take the time to study towards becoming Early Years Teachers will there be many/any jobs available for a decent wage? If so who is going to fund these positions?

TwinkleToes64 Wed 06-Feb-13 14:22:47

How will the agencies for childminders work? Will their fee be added on top (making it more expensive for parents?) or will it be deducted from the childminders wages before it is paid over?

I have spent the last few years as a childminder building up my business to be one of the best in my town. I had a GOOD with OUTSTANDING features on my first inspection and am on track for an Outstanding this year. If i am made to join an agency and that agency is graded satisfactory or lower even with all my hard work at my end, how demoralising for quality practitioners like me! I have my NVQ level 4 equivalent and am half way through a BA in Childhood studies (Early years pathway)....so i am one of your "quality childminders"- but i am really considering leaving the profession as i am afraid my autonomy will be removed and i will be unable to run my business.

also...if we work for agencies- does than mean we will lose our self employed status? And if we do will your govt give us the same perks as other public servants re pension, holiday pay, sickness etc. You know what...that sounds good to me- will you do all my paperwork too Ms Truss?

MrAnchovy Wed 06-Feb-13 15:00:56

Childminder Ratios: a bit of background first to put my question in context.

Under current regulations, at any one time a childminder may normally look after 3 young children (under fives), 1 of which may be a baby (under one). However in certain circumstances childminders may exceed these ratios, and in practice many childminders look after 2 babies and 2 young children full time. Prior to September 2012 they were permitted to do this only if granted a “variation” to the regulations by Ofsted, but now childminders are allowed to take the decision to exceed the regular ratios themselves.

This situation is confusing, and may lead to poorer standards of care by some childminders who abuse the process, whether deliberately or unintentionally. I assume that improving clarity and certainty of regulation in this particular aspect is one of the minister’s objectives, and this can only be a good thing.

Ignoring proposals for temporary flexibility for the moment, can the minister confirm whether the proposed change to childminder ratios such that childminders may look after 4 young children of which 2 may be babies is intended to be a "hard" limit, working the same as the ratios for other settings? Or is it intended that there will still be an optional variation for "continuity of care" – and if so whether this would be at the option of the childminder, or granted by the childminder’s registering body (which may of course be an agency with a commercial interest in increasing the number of children the childminder looks after)?

And a linked question if I may, on temporary flexibility – this is a sensible suggestion and will I am sure be appreciated by all. As childcare is only regulated when provided for more than two hours in any day I have assumed that this will be the basis for granting flexibility – i.e. it will be permitted to exceed the normal ratios by any amount for up to two hours a day. Is this correct?

Cat98 Wed 06-Feb-13 15:06:23

How is increasing nursery ratios going to benefit the children? They will get even less attention than they do in current childcare settings, and young babies need interaction and responsive attention. How are staff going to supply this with such high ratios?
And what can you say to reassure parents who will no longer feel comfortable leaving their children in childcare due to the above point?

FunnysInLaJardin Wed 06-Feb-13 15:39:32

I would like to know what the govenment thinks it is going to achieve with this legislation? It most certainly won't benefit children or families, so who does the government see as benefitting from these changes?

Emsmaman Wed 06-Feb-13 15:39:56

How is it going to be ensured that savings due to ratios are passed onto the parents? As nurseries are money making enterprises I don't see why they would reduce fees out of kindness. I see a 2 tier system evolving where nurseries with low ratios put their prices up for a "premium service" and those who take up the new ratios keep their prices the same and pocket the difference.

MrAnchovy Wed 06-Feb-13 16:22:32

(Can I break the rules and have another question on a totally different subject?)

Like you I have a strong interest in maths and am a Chartered Management Accountant - we could be twins!

From what age do you think maths should be taught by specialist teachers, and assuming this is at primary level, what should be the minimum level of maths qualification for a primary maths teacher?

TheCarefulLaundress Wed 06-Feb-13 16:54:34

Re: the Early Years Teachers' qualification commencing Sept 2013 - will it be a 3 or 4 year degree similar to BEd or a one year course similar to PGCE?

Will students be able to apply for a student loan to cover fees and/or living costs.

TheCarefulLaundress Wed 06-Feb-13 16:57:29

How will you ensure that these highly qualify/highly trained Early Years Teachers are paid the same as Reception or Primary School Teachers?

Early Years Professionals were supposed to have the same status as Qualified Teacher Status but few EYPs are paid as well as those with QTS?

renlo Wed 06-Feb-13 18:16:55

When is your government going to stop tinkering around edges and offer real, meaningful solutions to ease the childcare burden? I'm talking here about measures that would make a significant difference, such as fully transferable tax allowance from the non working parent to the working parent; increasing the childcare voucher limit to ensure the full cost of childcare is tax deductable; extending the voucher system to those who are self employed or ensuring all schools have affordable and accessible wrap around care? These are the measures that I as a parent and many of my friends and peers would like to see. Granted they may not be cheap but is it not in the best interest of our nation to ensure we make it easier for parents to raise the next generation of tax payers?

alto1 Wed 06-Feb-13 18:30:31

When my dd was in nursery I frequently found that the real ratios were worse than the norms. The nursery owner insisted that they were allowed to relax the rules so that staff could have breaks or do cleaning and to cover days off. She said local authority inspectors would always make allowances for this. I moved my child.

How will nurseries be safe during staff breaks if the staff numbers are even lower?

StrawberryMojito Wed 06-Feb-13 19:14:12

Apparently the changes to ratios are for the benefit of the parents and children. If the feedback you are getting is overwhelmingy negative and parents clearly do not want the changes then are you going to listen and rethink the idea or push forward regardless?

LimelightsontheChristmastree Wed 06-Feb-13 19:29:34

Thank you for being here. It's very courageous.

What does Professor Nutbrown think of your proposals? Especially with regards to ratios.

LimelightsontheChristmastree Wed 06-Feb-13 19:31:54

And another!

Are we not looking at this the wrong way round. Don't we in fact lead the world when it comes to our low ratios for under-3s. Shouldn't we be celebrating that fact rather than trying to achieve mediocrity?

Bonkerz Wed 06-Feb-13 19:43:01

I have worked in early years since leaving college in 1997. I have been a nanny/nursery nurse/nursery manager and am now a childminder. I have a level 4 qualification in early years an am 12 weeks away from completing a foundation degree in early years. Currently I charge £3 per hour. I offer top quality care rated good with outstanding features by OFSTED. I run 2 toddler groups and the local childminder support group. I love my job which is just as well. My fee is minimal for the high quality care I offer. What is being proposed will make me rethink working in early years.
shock A ratio of 1:13 in a nursery would be dangerous and not achieve a reduction in fees. (Higher wages would be needed for all the extra responsibility!)
shock A GCSE in maths and English does not make a good practitioner.
shocka degree does not mean I have more than two hands! I knows limits and when caring for the most precious thing in someone's world I would never be able to offer safety and quality attention with 4 under 3!!!!!
shockAt present I like to go to toddler groups and soft plays and parks in the area and farms etc....... I would never be able to offer this with a higher ratio! So my options would basically be to join an agency and have many children (higher ratio for highly qualified) and be restricted to home OR not join an agency, remain independent and risk losing work due to parents being told that agencies are best! And if I do join am agency I could lose upto 25% of my income! That would mean I would have to increase my fees to cover this charge! How ironic!!!!!!!!!confused

Start recognising that childminders can offer high quality care by highly qualified people at a low rate! Please miss truss stop belittling us. There are many childminders like me and we deserve recognition

I'm totally confused also about the qualification side of things now. I was due to top up my FD to a bA and then an EYP but no longer feel its worth it!

mrscog Wed 06-Feb-13 19:49:07

I just have one question for Liz and it's this...

Can you honestly say hand on heart that if I gave you a 4 month old, an 11 month old, a thirteen month old and an 18 month old to look after all day that you would be able to ensure all of their safety and meet their individual needs for the whole day?

Bonkerz Wed 06-Feb-13 19:51:21

Good point mrscog, I have a challenging 20 month old available for miss truss to care for............

drivingmad Wed 06-Feb-13 19:52:30

I (as a childminder) am totally baffled by this whole scenerio, whichever way i and indeed my parents look at it, we cannot see how it would benefit the children, parents or childminders.
Firstly whichever way you try and justify it increasing ratios means less attention on a child, both for their development and their safety. For a country that is supposedly trying to increase awareness on safeguarding children, this is the most ludicrous suggestion ever......does anyone remember baby p or victoria columbia.....do we need to have these instances again before the government sees sense???
My other concern is 'childminder agencies': who is paying for these, the parents or the childminder, as either way someone has to and therefore will not reduce costs.
I am proud to be Ofsted regulated in my own right not through an agency. This puts us on par with nurseries, so why contradict this and take this status off us? My parents want to deal with me, not a third party to confuse matters, i and my parents want decisions on who cares for who and at what price not the govenment, that is what a childminder is for, that one to one connection you get with each other.
Please confirm that we can still be self employed, ofsted regulated and not go through agencies as otherwise it is just not the profession most of us want????
We have a 'Family Information Service' that is a free service to the public that advertises for us so why the extra cost of an agency.

If the government listened to the public and profressionals then this would never go ahead.....and on the governments head if it does and something happens to these poor innocent children involved in this!!!!!!

noviewsonbiscuits Wed 06-Feb-13 20:04:02

Were you shocked by the level of opposition to your proposals? I have rarely seen a MN thread so united in disagreement especially about the raising of ratios for under 2s- hope you've had a chance to scan it. I have yet to meet a parent who welcomes the proposals, my DD1's nursery thinks it's nuts etc. The Zoe Williams piece in the Guardian was spot on. I spent 3 hours today and yesterday observing a baby room, babies tripping over, pulling hair, smearing porridge around, crying for mummy, facing the wall glumly, rattling the gates, climbing on chairs, filling their nappies, being checked for a temperature, settling in etc. and the thought of increasing ratios makes me weep. (Fortunately the nursery have promised patents not to increase ratios even if allowed
Were you surprised to be so unpopular, did you genuinely think you were doing the right thing and that we'd be pleased?

mousebacon Wed 06-Feb-13 20:33:29

I genuinely cannot understand why you think these proposals are a good idea.

Changing the ratios will not reduce costs for parents.

Being able to have more children and fewer staff will only dilute the quality of the provision for those children involved.

There is no way I would allow my child to go to a nursery or child minder with such unmanagable numbers. I would give up my own job (as an early years teacher!) to ensure my child's safety and emotional wellbeing were being taken care of.

My question is this: who does this proposal benefit? Because it's not the children and it's not the many wonderful early years practitioners who will refuse to up their numbers to earn a bit more cash. Who benefits?!

neolara Wed 06-Feb-13 20:42:32

In developing your proposals for increasing ratios for children aged 2 and under, what consideration has been given to (the widely accepted) views on the importance of developing sound attachments with responsive care-givers? Whose advice have you sought and what did they say? Is their advice consistent with others involved in child development (e.g. developmental psychologists)? How realistic do you think it is that a carer (even one with GCSEs in maths and English) will be able to provide responsive care to 4 babies under the age of 1 or six 2 year olds?

mrscog Wed 06-Feb-13 20:45:00

Also, I have given the nursery I use notice that I will be withdrawing my son if they increase ratios for under 2's to 1:4.

This will have the effect of removing either me or my DH (both highly skilled professionals with our own business making money for the economy) from the workforce as one of us will have to care for our son.

Lostonthemoors Wed 06-Feb-13 21:03:33

I have not met one parent who thinks the reduction in ratios is a good idea.

I have not met one parent who thinks childcare fees will go down when the new rules come into effect.

I voted for your government in the last election, which I mention only to show my comments are not politically partisan.

I would just like to ask this:

What child care did you choose for your own children when they were under 2 and would you have been happy having them in nursery full time with the now proposed ratios?

Snowgirl1 Wed 06-Feb-13 21:03:58

I couldn't agree more MrsCog.

Elizabeth, how will having a grade C GCSE in maths (which has a syllabus of algebra, geometry, statistics, probability, trigonometry etc.) help improve pre-schoolers maths ability? Surely it would have more effect train Early Years practioners on how to help children develop their maths ability than to insist the practioners have a grade C Maths GCSE?

I don't want particularly want graduates to look after my 13 month old daughter - I want caring, compassionate people who are considerate of her needs (and who have the time to do so because they are not overwhelmed with the number of children they are caring for). Degrees haven't necessarily improved the quality of nursing care. I don't believe they will necessarily improve the quality of childcare.

I hope you see sense and do not progress with these proposals.

LauraChildcare Wed 06-Feb-13 21:13:08

I agree with qualifications, salary, status and a reduction in fees for parents. However, a big no, no to any changes in ratios.

Providers, academics, experts and practitioners have all stated sound arguments against a change in ratios.

In addition, parents are so rightly concerned.

My letter as a parent and an early years specialist to parents:

laurachildcare.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/changes-to-childcare-for-parents/

Not sure, how savings will be made to parents or increase in salary to staff?

Surely, look at consolidating all the funding streams - Childcare vouchers, Childcare element of tax credits, 3&4 (2 year old funding) year old funding and have one funding stream - as it's costly and clumsy to promote so many initiatives and the money is all ultimately going the same way.

Also, TAX and Business rates that childcare providers have to pay.

There was another waste of money recently, from your colleague Ms Miller: Small grants for new providers. Money would have been better spent on existing providers with business/marketing support. Many providers are struggling to fill vacancies.

My question: With the universal support, against changing ratios. Will Ms Truss, change her views on ratios?

mrscog Wed 06-Feb-13 21:33:53

One final message for Liz about the ratio proposals, and one area where I do agree with them/see the need, is for a 1/2 hour/1 hour changeover slot in the day. I know a few childminders who say this would be very helpful.

Agaphe Wed 06-Feb-13 21:43:22

I would appreciate it if you could clear up the question of Childminder Agencies, if I do not join one will I be stopped from offering the funded hours that I am able to now? If so why should I be penalised and the parents of the children I care for? I have been able to offer the funding for many years now and feel that I do not need an agency to tell me how to do my job, my network has been there for me if I needed anything, and of course I did not have to pay for the priviledge.

GetKnitted Wed 06-Feb-13 21:55:36

Plenty of people have said what I wanted to say have already clearly expressed in the consultation, which you seem to have dismissed. That is, that raising ratios will decrease the quality of childcare, increase and not decrease the cost of good childcare, and consequently force many new mothers OUT of work.

Question: Are you brave enough to change this ludicrous Bill?

I know this is another question from me blush but.....

What is the government going to do for parents with school age children who use childcare? It has been rumoured that the childcare vouchers salary sacrifice scheme will be scrapped in favour of measures that will help those with pre-school age children only. Would you agree that would be a very backward step?

merrymouse Wed 06-Feb-13 23:00:07

Is it reasonable to compare Scandinavian nursery staff salaries given that on the one hand nurseries are highly subsidised, but on the other hand income tax rates are higher? Are you comparing like with like or have you just done a straight currency conversion?

flattyre Thu 07-Feb-13 07:29:53

Do you recognise that many of these measures will simply increase social divide? On the area I live there are many nurseries. I sit on the parents' committee at my son's and the owner has stated she would want to stick to the ratios as they are for 'quality of care' (great) but will obviously have to 'charge a premium' for this differentiated service.

blondieminx Thu 07-Feb-13 08:25:03

Thanks for coming on to Mumsnet to get our feedback.

I do hope that you appreciate the implications of these proposals and that you will be sensible about ratios and abandon that element of the proposals, because beyond providing responsive care for individual needs the ratio will simply not be safe - I have no doubt that accidents (and god forbid deaths) will increase if these plans go forward. Please don't dare come here and say that you've consulted such an important forum to attempt to give any validity to these dangerous proposals.

GCSE's do not equal more pairs of hands or eyes.

My question: how will you ensure settings operate safely with the proposed new ratios, and to show that you really have thought about the idea in practice, will you commit to undertaking a "back to the floor" visit for a whole day to a busy nursery working to the current ratios?

If previous elections have been said to be about "Mondeo mums" then please really listen to us here. We do vote and we will bear all this in mind at the next election! We're all saying the same - this ratios thing is a really bad idea!

fraktion Thu 07-Feb-13 08:26:13

I actually thoroughly support your plans for qualifications, although the mixing up of Professor Nutbrown's recommended level 2 and the (very British) GCSE may rule out any highly qualified overseas graduates from working in childcare.

I don't support the view on ratios and would like to extend an invitation for you to come and see provision in the French town where I live, which won't be the French Government's cherry picked settings in Paris so you can see the differences necessary to ensure the safety of so many children and speak to my friends who can't get a FT crèche place or are on a waiting list for garderie.

Question: why, as a nanny employer yourself, probably out necessity like many parents, have you made no mention at all of nannies as part of the early years workforce, not improved the voluntary register which has severe problems, or given them the option of integrating more closely with the workforce to receive funding as many would like to do?

Lostonthemoors Thu 07-Feb-13 08:30:21

Flat, that's a very interesting point you make - some settings will not move to the new ratios and will be able to increase fees in return.

This could actually lead to an increase in childcare fees confused

fraktion Thu 07-Feb-13 09:02:37

Sorry I have a correction. I agree 95% with your stance on qualifications. I don't understand the rationale for not giving EY teachers QTS if they just be trained to the same level, pass the same tests and do the same job. Is that not just devaluing Early Years, which you seem otherwise keen to avoid, and can you explain why?

PoppyK Thu 07-Feb-13 09:25:19

Do you have any worked examples of how the increased ratios will lower costs while increasing salaries, and do the examples take into account the fact that a significant number of parents don't want full time childcare, which means that the resulting gaps have to be built into the fees?

I appreciate that childminder agencies are designed partially to address this issue, but even assuming that parents will be happy to leave their children with any childminder in the agency, regardless of their childminding style and indeed location, aren't the income streams just too small to give a reasonable profit for both the agency and the childminder?

lionheart Thu 07-Feb-13 09:26:05

I agree Lost, it will mean that some people will be able to pay higher fees for a better ratio and the quality of care your child recieves will be determined, in part, by how much you can afford.

Al0uise Thu 07-Feb-13 09:26:39

The best way of making childcare more affirdable would be to make childcare, including qualified Nannies, tax deductible.

Easy, cheap to administer and far more incentivising than fiddling with credits.

It is the logical solution so why isn't it already in the pipeline?

BettyStogs Thu 07-Feb-13 09:30:52

I would like to know how many parents, childminders and nursery staff you spoke with before coming up with this new policy, and how many of them agreed with your proposals.

HappySunflower Thu 07-Feb-13 09:36:52

As a childcare professional with 20 years of experience in the field, including time spent as an Early Years Inspector for Ofsted, I have grave concerns about these reforms.
My main concerns are as follows:

1. You say that increasing ratios will lower the cost of childcare. How will you enforce this? I suspect that many providers will take the opportunity to gain more profit, not to pass on savings to their parents in the form of a reduction in fees. Some providers barely break even at the end of the month as it is.

2. Regarding the suggested change to staff:child ratios. Have you actually consulted with, and listened to a range of practitioners, and visited them within their settings to experience, fully, what things are like on the ground? The suggested amendments will put the safety and welfare of children at risk and will, if anything, reduce the quality of the provision offered.

3. A qualification does not mean that somebody has more arms than another practitioner. So why is it suggested that ratios are different depending on a qualification?

4. I have worked with some wonderfully talented, and skilled nursery nurses/ early years practitioners. Please do not forget about the superb quality of this part of our childcare workforce.
A teaching qualification does not alone offer the same emphasis on child development, attachment and care that equips people for caring for and nurturing our very youngest children.
Please do not let our under threes become shortchanged and let down as a result of this reform.

My biggest plea to you, is that you make every effort to keep children at the very heart of this reform. For it is they who will be the most affected by these proposals.

Togetherforquality Thu 07-Feb-13 09:36:53

RE Agencies for childminders

If agencies are to manage ; the matching of parents to childminder, the contracts, the fees (as in collect from parents and pay to the childminder), deal with paperwork so the children can 'get on with looking after the children' the childminder will be employed by the agency and indeed will be graded as part of the agency.

Will the agency therefore be dealing with the expenses side of childminding?
So buying of resources and food etc, running cost of the car, outings and so on?

If so how will this work? On a reimbursement of expenses paid for, or vouchers to spend in certain shops? How will you deal with differing expenses?

I am sure that you will have thought of this because if the agency is to handle the business side for those in the agency they will have to handle both the income and expenditure

TiggyD Thu 07-Feb-13 09:44:07

Hello Liz.

Be careful what you drink at Mumsnet HQ. I hear they even put gin in their tea.

I've been in childcare 20 years. Given that 99% of parents don't want higher ratios, staff don't want higher ratios and I think that children wouldn't want higher ratios, the only people left who could want higher ratios are the nurseries and nursery companies. Why would a nursery or company want to bring in something that would upset all their staff and their parents? To be a nursery who goes to the new higher ratios would be like putting a big flag outside saying "Keep away!".

The ratios for over 3s in a nursery is 1:8 or 1:13 if you have a teacher and level 3 in the room, which is basically what you want for the under 3s. I have never worked in or visited a nursery that had the higher ratio and many proudly boast of 1:6 and use it as a big selling point.

Question: Do you think any nursery will adopt the new ratio/staff changes for babies and toddlers?

MrsGBox Thu 07-Feb-13 09:48:58

Why do you think that Ofsted will be able to support Early Years providers to improve their quality of provision when currently its role is monitoring? Local authorities hold local knowledge and experience of quality improvement. Inspecting more frequently will not raise standards. It appears from this document that Ofsted will either do what local authorities already do, in which case why? Or they will have a reduced remit for quality improvement - In which case how do you think that will improve standards?

BabyRoger Thu 07-Feb-13 09:50:17

My question is:

Are you truly considering the opinions of working parents with regard to these changes?

I know of not one single parent who agrees with the increase in ratios. I would love to be able to afford to have a nanny at home looking after my two children all day but as I cannot afford this, I use a nursery.

Increasing the ratios will lead to lower quality care for the children - surely this is obvious?

As another poster has said, these changes seriously make me consider whether I will give up work - then you will have yet another person out of the job market and not paying tax. I am not willing to send my children to inferior child care.

midnightexpress Thu 07-Feb-13 10:16:28

Hi. My question is not about childcare ratios but about your comments regarding teaching children to read and write in the pre-school years. Why do you think this is necessary, when huge amounts of evidence suggest that a later start to formal schooling is more beneficial to child development and achievement?

Fortunately, my children are out of pre-school now and won't be affected by this, but I would be extremely unhappy for my children to be sitting learning to read and write at the age of 3 or 4, when they should be climbing trees and making a mess with paint.

Both this and the childcare ratios seem to pay absolutely NO heed to what is best for children.

MerrieEngland Thu 07-Feb-13 10:26:34

As a working parent, who wishes to carry on working, the cost and availability of childcare is currently a major disincentive from continued active participation in employment. I am hopeful that your reforms will be implemented to make life easier for my husband and me. But I think that there should also be fewer complications in the tax system. Please can you ask the Chancellor to simplify the tax system, introduce flatter rates, and remove complex rules that distort decisions and provide a disincentive to people like me who want to work hard, do the right thing for ourselves and our country, yet also want to do the best thing for our children, so that they are able to grow up and thrive in a country that is fair and economically competitive.

sarahnev707 Thu 07-Feb-13 10:41:33

Dear Ms Truss,

Over 40,000 childminders, early years professionals and parents have now signed 2 petitions against changes to ratios... one directed to you and one to the Dept for Education. They are on change.org if you would like to browse under 'early years'.

Many more childminders are going to be writing to you over the next few days and weeks to share their concerns about childminders and agencies - some emails should already have reached your inbox.

Concerns about your plans are wide ranging. However, they are mostly focussed on 2 main areas - our children's health, safety, wellbeing and outcomes... and our future business sustainability.

My question is - when are you going to start listening to us?

My follow up question - do you really think pushing these plans through and giving interviews where you talk about them as a fait accompli without support from the majority of the people the plans affect is a good career decision?

PS. I am very concerned that you do not fully understand current childminder ratios as you made a mistake in your recent interview with NW magazine. I am more than happy to take you through them if you would like to contact me.

All the best, Sarah

BoffinMum Thu 07-Feb-13 10:44:19

Hello Liz,

I was wondering, do you think it might be possible to make taxation more favourable in terms of childcare? For example making this category of employment exempt from employers' NI contributions? It seems an obvious way to me of reducing costs to employers/parents but that kind of thing is never discussed, and I was wondering what you thought about this?

Boff

OptimisticPessimist Thu 07-Feb-13 10:45:36

I think the ratio issue has been well covered already (and it thankfully won't affect us here in Scotland) so I'd like to ask a different childcare related question.

If your Government is so committed to helping working families afford childcare, then why in its very first budget did it cut the childcare element of working tax credits from 80% to 70%? This was a change that cost parents of two or more children £30 a week, which is a massive amount for those on low incomes. It had a massive impact on me as a lone parent, and I ended up resigning and now claim income support. The childcare element puts money into the economy by contributing to the employment and income of childcare workers, so what reason did your Government have for cutting this benefit?

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 11:11:43

TEST

JaneGMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 07-Feb-13 11:15:45

Hi there,

The National Childminding Association's Joint Chief Executives, Catherine Farrell and Liz Bayram, have asked us to pose the following question:

"How will you ensure that local authorities continue to support individual childminders to improve rather than relying on childminding agencies alone?"

Thanks
MNHQ

ChildminderH Thu 07-Feb-13 11:29:06

In your speech you talk about the gap between England and East Asia in terms of the average PISA maths score and state that this gap is already there by 5 years old.

Children in Singapore do not actually start primary school until they are 7 and the staff:pupil ratio when they first attend kindergarten at age 4 is 2:15 (1 teacher, and 1 teacher's aid) compared to 2:26 in our F1 classes, so how is a relaxation of ratio's for our youngest children going to help this, and should we not be looking to reduce our class sizes as a means of closing this gap?

Hi,

As a childminder I am slightly confused by your proposals as they seem slightly contradictory.

If you want to improve care and education higher ratios are surely a disadvantage as less individual time per child.

If you want to promote lower costs to parents surely improving funding systems is more efficient than increasing requirements for qualified staff, surely higher qualifications equal higher pay rates.

If you want to ensure all childminders are offered equal preferences based on grading and qualifications so proposing scrapping local authority support and putting it under Ofsted remit to ensure a level playing field why have agencies that will have variations.

Could you please clarify where I am making my error?

Thank you

starlight78 Thu 07-Feb-13 11:33:05

Hello

I think this country needs a major wake up call-the majority of parents for years and years have wanted the same thing-affordable childcare. Affordable in the sense that parents should feel that they are indeed better off working rather than claiming benefits simply because they are worse off if they are working. In my personal situation, I have 2 kids under the age of 3, and I simply cannot see myself going back to work full time as childcare costs will mean that I have almost nothing to live on.

We need some sort of major reform that will help working parent and also help parents get back to work if they are unemployed. Cutting back on childcare ratio is not the way forward.

MsWobble Thu 07-Feb-13 11:43:04

As a parent of preschool age children, I am horrified by these proposals.

I have three main questions.

Who is going to benefit here?

Not parents who will at best pay the same for lower quality care or more for providers who raise prices for maintaining existing ratios.

Not nursery staff who will be asked to take on additional work where any corresponding pay rise from a reduction in staff will either be non existent or so modest that it will in now way compensate for the additional workload and stress.

Possibly only the big nursery chains who could pocket some profit but these will not be seen as the desirable providers.

Why would I return to work when I would be concerned about the welfare of my children?

If these ratios were implemented then the result for me would be giving up work as the welfare and development of my children would have to come first. Many parents feel the same so a negative impact on the economy.

These proposals are therefore likely to deter parents from returning to work. A GCSE does not make someone capable of caring for 4 infants, it does not give someone more eyes, arms and laps. How could a parent of a one year old be confident that their child's basics needs of food, sleep and clean nappy be met on these ratios.

Is this really how little the government values ordinary families?

There was an opportunity to come up with some real sustainable, valuable childcare policies and support for working parents, yet the heart of the proposal is lower quality care . Thanks a lot.

The response from parents, childcare providers and professionals is overwhelmingly negative, please take these real concerns about our children into account.

Sharonmanc Thu 07-Feb-13 11:44:28

I am deeply distressed by the proposals for agencies for childminders. Why was their no consultation? The childminders you supposedly spoke to with regards this who were they? As it is obvious from your proposals the childminders you spoke to are the ones who are "lagging behind" to want an agency to tell them what to do. I for one do not. I run my own business I do not want to be dictated to by an agency, nor do I want to pay a percentage of my own very low wage ( as this is the only way I can see these being run) to an agency when I can do what they are supposedly for, myself.

If agencies are introduced I shall be leaving this profession (as it is a profession ) childminders offer a unique service, they offer parents choice and flexibility at a lower cost than most other childcare providers. I am not simply there for crowd control ( which I would be If you increase ratio's) I offer quality education and car to the little ones I look after. I left a career in teaching, am qualified to post graduate level and was graded good by Ofsted in my recent inspection under the revised EYFS (apparently I cannot get outstanding as I am new to childminding) so I take offence to your recent comments about childminders " lagging behind" as they are in the minority not the majority.

ChildrenAtHeart Thu 07-Feb-13 11:59:09

So many questions I hardly know which one to select. However, as many others have already reflected my thoughts on the proposed ratios (e.g. we will not be able to provide the levels of safety, care and attention needed to promote their development and learning, no matter what qualifications we hold) etc. I will therefore focus on a subject to my childminding heart. How will you ensure that childminders who choose not to join an agency will not be disadvantaged in any way, including access to training and support; accessing funding; providing funded early years education; and advertising their services?
For further information on my views please see the attached which has been copied to Ms Truss https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0rkJ9gQnNZeNXh4eTBJRkNZSWs/edit?usp=sharing

Dawnev Thu 07-Feb-13 12:04:42

I am a network accredited child minder, good with outstanding features at last inspection, a lead child minder for my local peer to peer support cluster and a national policy forum representative for the NCMA. I have three degrees, including a BA in Early Years and am about to confirm my skills/knowledge through the EYPS.

I want to know why the minister feels the setting up of agencies will increase quality child minder numbers when it is very clear from the discussions I have been involved in both locally and nationally that many of the quality child minders already operating have stated they will either not join an agency or will leave the profession if having agencies impacts on their ability to trade independently! There are already very good examples of support networks operating in local authority areas and on social media sites that provide much of what the minister is using as a reason for the implementation of an agency model. In my local authority area we have the following:

* Volunteer run drop in daytime sessions operating from community centres and children's centres that support child minders (new and old) in implementing the EYFS and embedding good practice.
* Volunteer run evening meetings supported by the local authority and children's centre through partnership working in delivering a facility to share good practice, discuss concerns, gain support, deliver specific training to address local need and allow networking between child minders to be able to support each others families during periods of sickness or holiday cover
* Lead child minders (volunteers) supported by the local authority in being a support to existing child minders with business questions/issues, support in care of children, information on training and sign posting to other services and support
* Link child minders (volunteers) supported by the local authority in supporting people going through the process of registration and for the first six to twelve months after registration before linking them into their local lead child minder and cluster group.
*accredited network for those child minders wishing to show parents an additional commitment to the provision of quality services and the ability to offer early years entitlements on a level playing field to nursery and pre-school settings
*NCMA Local peer to peer group, run by child minders for child minders. This supports local child minders through face to face meetings but also through specific online community support

How can the minister suggest that child minders do not have access to quality support in order to encourage more people to enter the profession or believe that to undermine these existing services by introducing agencies that will charge child minders for these same services that they currently access for FREE will drive down prices for parents and improve quality.

Her thinking and statements made over the past week suggest that she is less than familiar with the current EYFS and with the way many child minders already operate within existing networks. I would like her reassurance that before agencies are piloted that she will engage actively, in person, in visiting areas such as my own (Wigan Local Authority) to see the damage these agencies will do to current quality provision.

Dawn Heaps

elisbet Thu 07-Feb-13 12:22:42

Hello,

I am an experienced early years practitioner, qualified to Level 4 and currently studying towards an early years degree. I have chosen to return to work as a childminder rather than as a nursery based practitioner because I believe in the value of home environments for building positive relationships with very young children which nurtures their love of learning, and I am dismayed by the proposals in 'More Great Childcare'.

My colleagues have already raised the problems with ratio changes, agencies, and fees, so I would like to ask why you inaccurately state in a footnote of page 7 of your report, that nurseries provide "education and childcare" and that childminders provide "childcare"? We ALL work within the EYFS framework to support young children's learning and development in an evidence-based developmentally appropriate way.

As a follow up question, I would like to ask why you ignoring the elements of the EYFS that already support children's developing literacy skills and are calling for more formal strategies, when there is sound evidence that this does not improve outcomes, and indeed may well damage outcomes, particularly for vulnerable children?

Lostonthemoors Thu 07-Feb-13 12:47:52

Over 60 posts on this thread and not one voice iirc in favour of the new ratios!

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 07-Feb-13 12:52:26

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

Bicnod Thu 07-Feb-13 12:54:04

I haven't read all the questions on this thread so apologies if this has already been asked.

What is the government proposing to do to support self-employed people who have childcare costs?

I had to quit my job after my second maternity leave ended as the commuting and childcare costs combined for 3 days a week made it impossible to return (I would have been paying for the privilege) and my employer turned down my application to work 3 days in 2 as compressed hours - with good reason I might add.

I now have my two DC in childcare two days a week and I work from home 2 days a week as a freelancer + bits and pieces evenings/weekends (when I don't need to pay for childcare).

Will there be anything like the voucher scheme available to make it possible to pay for childcare pre-tax if you are self-employed? And if not, why not?

Thanks very much.

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 12:54:15

Hi,

It's great to be here at Mumsnet - really looking forward to the chat today.

I'm going to try to get through as many questions as I can.

Best,

Liz

bob567 Thu 07-Feb-13 12:55:41

I would like your input on how childminders are supposed to safely take children out of the house if our ratios are increased. At present I can't even fill my full ratio of 6 children (including my own) as I am unable to collect my own children from school or go on outings by car.
The benefit of a childminder is being able to access facilities in the community, playgroup, library, parks etc. which many nurseries can't offer children. Increasing our numbers will make many childminders housebound which would have a hugely negative impact on the children's well being and care.

Bicnod Thu 07-Feb-13 12:56:02

Oh, and FWIW, my CM, who also used to be Manage of a reputable day nursery, thinks the new ratios are ridiculous and will result in poorer quality childcare. She thinks (and I agree) that it will force good quality CMs who don't want to raise their numbers because they want to give the children in their care the attention they need and deserve to compete with people who lower their charges and increase their numbers as a way of making more money.

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 12:58:03

Cat98

How is increasing nursery ratios going to benefit the children? They will get even less attention than they do in current childcare settings, and young babies need interaction and responsive attention. How are staff going to supply this with such high ratios?
And what can you say to reassure parents who will no longer feel comfortable leaving their children in childcare due to the above point?

The issue we've got at the moment with childcare is that we have some of the lowest salaries for childcare workers in Europe and the highest cost to parents. £6.60 ph is the average wage of a childcare worker, which isn't much more than the minimum wage. The consensus by Ofsted and the OECD is that the most important factor in the outcomes for children is having really good qualifications and high staff quality. I'm really concerned that at the moment it's difficult to attract and retain staff at that level of pay. What we're saying is that there's an option for nurseries, so this isn't compulsory, to have more flexibility over their staff numbers if they upskill the workforce. These changes would bring us into line with most European countries, for example, Scotland, France and Ireland all have higher ratios than we do.

CinnamonStix Thu 07-Feb-13 12:58:11

The Room Leader at DS's pre-school asked me innocently the other day, "I know we've got written down that he's not allowed sweets, but can I check he's allowed skittles?"

I don't think having a grade C in GCSE maths and English has helped - qualifications don't give you common sense.

On another occasion, I questioned where the carbs and greens were at tea when they informed me he had beans and one fish finger for tea. They said, "the children had their greens and carbs at lunch".

Is it not crucial to improve the education and standards of food in nurseries, as well as having a grade C in GCSE maths and English? Why has this not been addressed?

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:00:36

TheCarefulLaundress

How will you ensure that these highly qualify/highly trained Early Years Teachers are paid the same as Reception or Primary School Teachers?

Early Years Professionals were supposed to have the same status as Qualified Teacher Status but few EYPs are paid as well as those with QTS?

One of the issues we've got is the massive gap in salaries between primary schools and early years. I think that early years are probably the most important in terms of a child's development, and yet as a country we don't value that at the moment. So what we're doing is making the entrance requirements the same for early years teachers and school teachers, and encouraging more crossover between primary and early years.

Italiana Thu 07-Feb-13 13:03:12

Ratios and agencies were not part of CCommission
Proposals you made means we were not consulted on agencies
How will independent c/ms know how to proceed to register etc, how much it will cost in registration fee and inspections

Will you be holding meetings with independent c/ms to explain the process?

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:03:25

neolara

In developing your proposals for increasing ratios for children aged 2 and under, what consideration has been given to (the widely accepted) views on the importance of developing sound attachments with responsive care-givers? Whose advice have you sought and what did they say? Is their advice consistent with others involved in child development (e.g. developmental psychologists)? How realistic do you think it is that a carer (even one with GCSEs in maths and English) will be able to provide responsive care to 4 babies under the age of 1 or six 2 year olds?

I'm very aware of the research on attachment, and to be clear on babies, we would only allow nurseries to operate on the extended ratio if they were taking on somebody who was really experienced and expert. The evidence from studies like EPPE, and from the OECD's Starting Strong work, that having graduates in settings, even for babies, has a positive impact on children's outcomes. This is particularly important for children around age 2, who are beginning to develop their vocabulary and understand their sentence structure. This is particularly important for children from low-income backgrounds, where it has a disproportionate impact.

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:04:54

Agaphe

I would appreciate it if you could clear up the question of Childminder Agencies, if I do not join one will I be stopped from offering the funded hours that I am able to now? If so why should I be penalised and the parents of the children I care for? I have been able to offer the funding for many years now and feel that I do not need an agency to tell me how to do my job, my network has been there for me if I needed anything, and of course I did not have to pay for the priviledge.

We are making it easier for all childminders to receive funded hours, whether or not you are part of an agency. If you are rated positively by Ofsted, under our proposals you'll automatically be eligible for this funding. If you're rated good or outstanding, you will also be able to offer 2 year old places for low-income children.

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:05:40

ElectricalBanana

I have spent the last few years as a childminder building up my business to be one of the best in my town. I had a GOOD with OUTSTANDING features on my first inspection and am on track for an Outstanding this year. If i am made to join an agency and that agency is graded satisfactory or lower even with all my hard work at my end, how demoralising for quality practitioners like me! I have my NVQ level 4 equivalent and am half way through a BA in Childhood studies (Early years pathway)....so i am one of your "quality childminders"- but i am really considering leaving the profession as i am afraid my autonomy will be removed and i will be unable to run my business.

also...if we work for agencies- does than mean we will lose our self employed status? And if we do will your govt give us the same perks as other public servants re pension, holiday pay, sickness etc. You know what...that sounds good to me- will you do all my paperwork too Ms Truss?

I want to be really clear ElectricalBanana; you will not be made to join an agency. Joining an agency will be entirely voluntary and childminders will be able to remain individually registered with and inspected by Ofsted. It will be up to childminders to decide which option works for them and parents.

We’ll be saying more about how agencies will work soon.

We are also making changes to funding to put childminders on an equal footing to nurseries. Where an agency or independent childminder has been approved by Ofsted, they will be able to offer funded provision for three and four-year-olds without the need to jump through additional hoops at local authority level.

All good and outstanding childminders will be able to offer two year old places.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 07-Feb-13 13:06:00

It doenst matter how experienced/qualified the member of staff - if there are more children and less staff each child gets less individual time - do you genuinely not understand this?

Dawnev Thu 07-Feb-13 13:06:45

Do you mean that nurseries would have to employ someone at a graduate level in order to increase the ratios for babies to 1:4 as the information given to date only suggests that the required level would be that of the EYE which is level3/Alevel equivalent?

mrscog Thu 07-Feb-13 13:06:59

'and to be clear on babies, we would only allow nurseries to operate on the extended ratio if they were taking on somebody who was really experienced and expert'

Liz, I welcome upskilling the workforce but the point is that with babies (under 18 months) it's often simply pairs of hands to feed/change a nappy/cuddle that's required hence needing at least 1:3. You could have the best child development expert ever looking after 4 under 2's and i'm sure they would provide an excellent developmental experience but there is no way they could meet their basic nappy/feed/sleep/cuddle needs.

Lostonthemoors Thu 07-Feb-13 13:07:39

I have a phd myself and don't think I could look after the number of children proposed - however well educated I am.

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:08:08

blondieminx

Thanks for coming on to Mumsnet to get our feedback.

I do hope that you appreciate the implications of these proposals and that you will be sensible about ratios and abandon that element of the proposals, because beyond providing responsive care for individual needs the ratio will simply not be safe - I have no doubt that accidents (and god forbid deaths) will increase if these plans go forward. Please don't dare come here and say that you've consulted such an important forum to attempt to give any validity to these dangerous proposals.

GCSE's do not equal more pairs of hands or eyes.

My question: how will you ensure settings operate safely with the proposed new ratios, and to show that you really have thought about the idea in practice, will you commit to undertaking a "back to the floor" visit for a whole day to a busy nursery working to the current ratios?

If previous elections have been said to be about "Mondeo mums" then please really listen to us here. We do vote and we will bear all this in mind at the next election! We're all saying the same - this ratios thing is a really bad idea!

The evidence around safety is that it's about good leadership and management, and having staff who are experienced, well-qualified and know what they're doing. I've visited French nurseries operating these ratios, that as a mother I'd be delighted to send my children to, as I can see that they're highly professional and safe places where children are engaged in really positive, structured play and activities. In nurseries like at Durand Academy in Stockwell, this happens in England too, where children of age 3 and 4 are led in groups of 26 with an assistant, and a really good, qualified early years teacher.

EasilyBored Thu 07-Feb-13 13:08:44

What guarantee is there that increasing ratios will lead to nurseries reducing their fees or that childcare will become in less expensive? Wont this just be an opportunity for nurseries to take on more children, or lose staff, with no benefit to parents or children?

mrscog Thu 07-Feb-13 13:08:44

And I want you to know that if you don't answer my question then I shall assume your answer was no.

In case you can't find it it's approximately post 25 on the thread.

bob567 Thu 07-Feb-13 13:09:10

Whilst I agree that childcare salaries are very poor, higher ratios = more children = higher expenses for the nursery. The fees paid by the extra children will probably never reach the worker's salaries. The issue of wages needs to be addressed in another way other than increasing ratios.

Lostonthemoors Thu 07-Feb-13 13:09:15

Durand is presumably a preschool not really a nursery, though?

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 07-Feb-13 13:09:28

as I can see that they're highly professional and safe places where children are engaged in really positive, structured play and activities

Babies don't need this, babies need hands on time and cuddles, and lots of it.

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:10:08

Italiana

Ratios and agencies were not part of CCommission
Proposals you made means we were not consulted on agencies
How will independent c/ms know how to proceed to register etc, how much it will cost in registration fee and inspections

Will you be holding meetings with independent c/ms to explain the process?

There will be no change for independent childminders. This is a new option that we're offering. We will shortly be bringing out a proposed framework for agencies which a group of childminders and nurseries and other interested parties have put together. We'll be piloting the agencies from September 2013 and we've already got interest from existing childminder networks, schools and early years providers.

Lostonthemoors Thu 07-Feb-13 13:10:48

Seems like ratios will increase and:

- fees will not go down
- wages will not go up
- Childcare standards will not improve

SouthernPolish Thu 07-Feb-13 13:11:32

I am newly re-registered and currently re-building my Childminding business, but feel completely depressed and upset by the changes you are proposing (for reasons very well documented by thousands of other Early Years staff and parents on various other forums). I cannot be the only Childminder thinking I have made a mistake and feeling so unhappy about recent developments that I may just throw in the towel. Why should I contine? How will you cope with Childminders resigning in droves?

explosioninatoyshop Thu 07-Feb-13 13:12:12

Hi Liz,

As I understand it, the amongst the reasons for the change in ratios are to reduce costs, so that child carer workers are paid better wages and parents pay lower fees to bring us more in line with the rest of the OECD.

What measures have you put in place to ensure that the cost savings are actually passed on to parents in terms of reduced fees and care workers in increased pay?

I'm sure you must have thought about this, as otherwise the changes will only serve to increase profits for owners of private nurseries...

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:12:26

BettyStogs

I would like to know how many parents, childminders and nursery staff you spoke with before coming up with this new policy, and how many of them agreed with your proposals.

Lots and lots. As a constituency MP I meet nurseries, childminders, parents and visited others across the country. I'm a mother of a 4 year old and 6 year old and I'm constantly meeting other parents, and have my own experiences of trying to find high-quality, affordable childcare. I also think we do have to look at other countries which mangage to spend about the same amount of money we do (France, Germany) but manage to achieve better staff salaries and better affordability for parents.

nicecupotea Thu 07-Feb-13 13:12:41

Ms Truss, my questions are as follows: How will the 'agencies' governing childminders work? How will they be funded? Who will run them? Will they determine how we run our settings on a daily basis and if so, how? How will the new proposals affect our self-employed status?Will childminders still be able to fill vacancies as they do now or will things change?
Where are all these childminders that you have supposedly consulted with? Can I contact them?
Ms Truss, I am a childminder. I am passionate about what I do. I wonder if you would be interested in visiting my setting to see what I REALLY do?
I am sincerely concerned that these proposals simply haven't been thought through.
One in three children leave primary school unable to read and write.
Is this government in 'panic mode?' Methinks it is.

Easilybored's question is at least the third time that aspect has been asked about. I really hope the minister will be addressing this very important issue.

'we would only allow nurseries to operate on the extended ratio if they were taking on somebody who was really experienced and expert' - doesn't make sense to me. Are you saying that each nurseries ratio will be individually determined on the basis of the experience of each staff member? What if their highly expert person only works three days a week? will they have different ratios for different days?hmm

Bicnod Thu 07-Feb-13 13:13:11

What does lots and lots mean? Seriously? How many?!

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:14:01

Here is a quote from the OECD (on its Starting Strong work) about quality childcare:

“…Results from PISA show that high performing education systems consistently prioritise the quality of their staff over the size of classes. OECD’s work on early childhood education (Starting Strong 3) underlines the importance of having staff with proper educational qualifications and that staff qualifications are the best predictor of the quality of early childhood education and care…”

Andreas Schleicher, Deputy Director for Education and Special Adviser on Education Policy at the OECD

dontwanttobefatandforty Thu 07-Feb-13 13:14:24

I find it hard to believe you found many if anyone who agreed with your proposals!

Dawnev Thu 07-Feb-13 13:14:29

I would be very interested to know how and from where this group of childminders were recruited to consult on agency models. To my knowledge none of my colleagues in the NCMA have been approached nor have any of the child minders I link with from across the country via social media

Craftsonsea Thu 07-Feb-13 13:14:47

Hello Liz, thank you for braving mumsnet today, I can't imagine you woke up his morning looking forward to this. I wrote a blog article about how I've just been made redundant and can't find work that will pay enough for childcare anymore, but that I'm still against the ratio changes (which mumsnet kindly linked to on the blog you wrote for them.) looking here and elsewhere the feeling from parents and childcare workers seems to be very anti the changes, although obviously we all want decent wages for those who work in Childcare and to be able to afford it ourselves! With this in mind please can you reassure us that if the consultation the government is doing shows that the public really are against these changes then they won't be pushed through. Cheers.

BettyStogs Thu 07-Feb-13 13:14:50

Thank you for your reply. it is strange that none of these many people you have spoken to are here agreeing with the propsals today

mrscog Thu 07-Feb-13 13:15:03

I would like to know how many parents, childminders and nursery staff you spoke with before coming up with this new policy, and how many of them agreed with your proposals.

'Lots and lots.'

Well Elizabeth there are 'lots and lots' of parents on here who pretty much unanimously think that 1:4 is inappropriate for the under 2's. No sod inappropriate - absolutely awful.

EasilyBored Thu 07-Feb-13 13:15:12

I would like to see evidence of the discussions with childcare providers you have consulted with before coming up with this.

If, even after more explanation, the overwhelming feeling from parents and care givers alike is that this is Very Bad Idea and will not have positive results, will you still push this through?

Bicnod Thu 07-Feb-13 13:15:19

I'd really like to know how many people you actually consulted. Lots and lots really isn't an adequate response.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 07-Feb-13 13:15:32

I am confused - to most intelligent people it is immediately obvious that these proposals will not make the positive difference intended. The cynical side of me is trying to work out who is actually going to benefit from this.

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:15:35

starlight78

Hello

I think this country needs a major wake up call-the majority of parents for years and years have wanted the same thing-affordable childcare. Affordable in the sense that parents should feel that they are indeed better off working rather than claiming benefits simply because they are worse off if they are working. In my personal situation, I have 2 kids under the age of 3, and I simply cannot see myself going back to work full time as childcare costs will mean that I have almost nothing to live on.

We need some sort of major reform that will help working parent and also help parents get back to work if they are unemployed. Cutting back on childcare ratio is not the way forward.

This is part of a whole series of reforms that we're carrying out. One of the announcements we made last week is that Ofsted will be the whole arbiter of quality, which means that more of the £160 million local authorise currently use to to duplicate Ofsted checks and can now go to the frontline. We will be carrying out further reforms to funding to make sure more of the £5bn the Government spends is going to childminders and nurseries. On ratios, we do have the lowest ratios in Europe and the lowest staff salaries, and I think historically we've focussed too much on quantity, and not enough on the quality of care, which is the most important thing.

Liz - if you're going to bring your own credentials as a parent in to the issue I think it's only fair to point out that you are on record saying you've used a nanny for your children. Therefore a ratio of 1:2 at most. do you think that experience really translates across to help you see what parents using other settings need?

superkat Thu 07-Feb-13 13:17:20

Assuming you do change the ratios but the square footage per child remains the same. Won't this then mean that nurseries can employ fewer staff leading to a loss of jobs in childcare?

I do not support your proposals and can't wait for the u-turn.

Bicnod Thu 07-Feb-13 13:17:40

Yes, presumably all the Tory MPs with preschool children will be perfectly happy to put them into baby battery farm nurseries? Perhaps you should do a test run with Tory MP babies? As it's such a reasonable proposition I'm sure you'd find many takers.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 07-Feb-13 13:18:21

Oops, I didn't realise this was only England/Wales heaves sigh of relief that am Scottish and leaves thread

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:18:31

mrscog

I just have one question for Liz and it's this...

Can you honestly say hand on heart that if I gave you a 4 month old, an 11 month old, a thirteen month old and an 18 month old to look after all day that you would be able to ensure all of their safety and meet their individual needs for the whole day?

Well first of all, these are childcare professionals we're talking about, and I'd expect them to use their own judgment, given the circumstances of the children they're looking after. The problem at the moment with our rules on childminders is that they don't give flexibility for example on changeover times, if a parent is picking up children late and another has just arrived. There's a case of two childminders in my constituency who look after six children between them. If one wants to pop to the shop to get a pint of milk, they have to take three children with them, under the current rules. Let's not forget that many families have four children in this age-group.

EasilyBored Thu 07-Feb-13 13:19:53

How on earth do you marry up the idea of quality of care being the most important thing, with one person (regardless of how well trained they are) looking after 4 babies? The leaps in logic there are mind boggling.

Dawnev Thu 07-Feb-13 13:20:12

'wee'll be saying more about how the agency will work soon'

Why has this information not already been shared alongside the other announcements regarding ratios etc. Is it possible the government were hoping that child minders would not notice given the rightful outcry against the ratio increases. Unfortunately we have noticed and we are rightfully concerned as we have NOT been consulted

Bicnod Thu 07-Feb-13 13:20:15

So that'll be a no then?

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:21:17

LesbianMummy1

Hi,

As a childminder I am slightly confused by your proposals as they seem slightly contradictory.

If you want to improve care and education higher ratios are surely a disadvantage as less individual time per child.

If you want to promote lower costs to parents surely improving funding systems is more efficient than increasing requirements for qualified staff, surely higher qualifications equal higher pay rates.

If you want to ensure all childminders are offered equal preferences based on grading and qualifications so proposing scrapping local authority support and putting it under Ofsted remit to ensure a level playing field why have agencies that will have variations.

Could you please clarify where I am making my error?

Thank you

For childminders, our proposals are all about allowing childminders who are regulated by Ofsted more opportunities to use their professional judgment about what works for them. At present, local authority coverage is variable across the country, and some of it duplicates the work Ofsted does. Ofsted are currently recruiting new HMIs in early years, and are focussing their efforts on weaker providers to improve quality, to make sure we have a consistent approach nationwide.

I would expect professional childminders to plan their need to obtain milk for outside of their working hours - as any other employed person would need to do.

Bonkerz Thu 07-Feb-13 13:21:45

Ms truss please can I suggest that you try answering The core questions rather than copying and pasting from the report you have published. Many I us have already read your views but they contradict everything us qualified an experienced early years practitioner already know.
shockHOW EXACTLY will higher ratios reduce costs to parents?
shockHOW EXACTLY will practitioners spread themselves between all the children and still offer quality care an education
shockWhilst agencies won't be compulsory they will be advertised as the best way to find childcare so why would a parent look anywhere else? I presume the current CiS will be scrapped meaning advertising for independent childminders will be harder.

chazzy2008 Thu 07-Feb-13 13:22:38

lots and lots???? seriously??? how many did you consult...were any of them the over 40,000 that have sigend 2 petitions opposing your changes??? where can we contact these people to ask what their views where???

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:23:01

JaneGMumsnet

Hi there,

The National Childminding Association's Joint Chief Executives, Catherine Farrell and Liz Bayram, have asked us to pose the following question:

"How will you ensure that local authorities continue to support individual childminders to improve rather than relying on childminding agencies alone?"

Thanks
MNHQ

This is a role that we see Ofsted taking on with boosted resource. Some local authorities are interested into converting their childminder networks into childminder agencies under our proposals. The issue at the moment is that local authority support is very patchy, and also that by spending money on that, less money is getting through to the frontline.

SouthernPolish Thu 07-Feb-13 13:23:02

Dawnev said: 'I would be very interested to know how and from where this group of childminders were recruited to consult on agency models. To my knowledge none of my colleagues in the NCMA have been approached nor have any of the child minders I link with from across the country via social media' PLEASE ANSWER THIS ONE!

mrscog Thu 07-Feb-13 13:23:16

I'll take that as a no - what do you do if all babies shit themselves at once? At least one of them will have to sit in their own excrement for 15 minutes while the others are changed. You're giving the 4 month old a bottle while the others have their lunch - one of them starts choking, while you go and give the backslaps to that one, the 18 month old spills their food all over the floor and then you slip and fall on it. Then the 11 month old is sick everywhere, while you're dealing with this lunchtime chaos you're not going to be putting your professional qualifications on child development and lovely activities to much use are you?

I said that I agreed with the swap over time ratios - but you're not limiting the ratios to this are you?

NicoleWild Thu 07-Feb-13 13:23:33

I would like to know.

I agree with your ideas and proposals that people working with young children should be of a higher educational level. Degrees would be perfect. That's great for preschools, and to raise salaries as well.

What would happen to us Childminders? Who generally work longer hours than nurseries and preschools often offering overnight, emergency care etc.

I could spend £5,000 or however much it is on a Degree and still only be paid £3.50 per HOUR. I work 50 hours a week which doesn't include out of hours paperwork. Who will raise out salaries? If I had a degree, and as a Childminder I will be earning 9,200PA or I could work in a nursery and receive 20k PA ISH, I'd be working in a nursery pronto. Less and less Childminders.... I don't like the idea of that.

Bicnod Thu 07-Feb-13 13:24:11

Yes, please can you answer the 'lots and lots' question?

It was quite a patronising response and lots and lots of people have now asked for clarification on this point.

Blackqueen Thu 07-Feb-13 13:24:15

I work in an independant early years school nursery (not a day nursery), 4 years ago one of our staff undertook a second degree in their own time and then went on to achieve early years professional status in 2011. Two other staff are currently halfway through this process - all these staff will still be earning less than £10 per hour and now we are told this qualification is not quite right", our level 3 staff earn less than £9 per hour. Do you really think these rates of pay are reasonable - how on earth are we supposed to reduce costs to parents on these margins - there is no way we are prepared to change the ratios for under twos it would put our children at too much risk

elisbet Thu 07-Feb-13 13:25:26

"Let's not forget that many families have four children in this age-group"

How many lone* parents have four children under two?

And how many of those that do benefit from some support - either by privately funding it, or by being referred and funded by the local authority?

*I say lone parent purely because the ratio in question refers to one adult caring for four children under two years.

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:25:31

MerrieEngland

As a working parent, who wishes to carry on working, the cost and availability of childcare is currently a major disincentive from continued active participation in employment. I am hopeful that your reforms will be implemented to make life easier for my husband and me. But I think that there should also be fewer complications in the tax system. Please can you ask the Chancellor to simplify the tax system, introduce flatter rates, and remove complex rules that distort decisions and provide a disincentive to people like me who want to work hard, do the right thing for ourselves and our country, yet also want to do the best thing for our children, so that they are able to grow up and thrive in a country that is fair and economically competitive.

MerrieEngland, I have a massive amount of sympathy with what you say. One of the things I'm keen to do is to make sure the childcare support that the Government gives parents and families is a simple and clear as possible. The problem at the moment is that the system is really complex and fragmented, and this means that the money the Government is spending isn't reaching the frontline. We'll shortly be announcing further reforms to simplify funding, and also to help parents looking for wraparound care for school-age children.

mellowcat Thu 07-Feb-13 13:26:26

I am an NNEB nursery nurse with a first class honours degree in Early Childhood Studies, a Masters Degree in Early Childhood and twenty years experience of working in nurseries with children under the age of three. Myself and similarly qualified colleagues are contemplating leaving the profession as soon as the ratio changes come into force as experience tells us that this simply will not work. It is very easy to say that nurseries have a choice, but there is often no choice for the practitioners working within them. I would rather leave than fail the infants in my care.

moonbells Thu 07-Feb-13 13:26:41

I'm worried about childcare vouchers. DS is now at school, so I'm saving them for holiday care. I can't get holiday care all year (some holidays such as Christmas don't have clubs available at all) and there are more holidays than my husband and I have leave for.

If we don't have vouchers, we can't afford the clubs and one of us will have to give up work.

Please reassure me that they will still be available for parents of children up to 18?

superkat Thu 07-Feb-13 13:27:02

Timely reminder from Chazzy2008 that you can petition against these ration changes: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/uk-government-department-for-education-leave-our-early-years-ratios-alone

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:27:45

EasilyBored

What guarantee is there that increasing ratios will lead to nurseries reducing their fees or that childcare will become in less expensive? Wont this just be an opportunity for nurseries to take on more children, or lose staff, with no benefit to parents or children?

The primary purpose of our change to ratios is to give nurseries the headroom to increase staff qualifications and pay. To give an illustration, currently the average childcare professional is earning £13,000 per year. If the nursery fulfilled the rigorous qualification requirements that we're setting out, they would be able to move to a higher ratio and pay those staff £16,000 per year, and there would still be money left over to reduce fees.

Bonkerz Thu 07-Feb-13 13:28:04

With regards to safety lets not forget the current issues that have even highlighted in the news. Children having tragic accidents and massive safeguarding issues in nursery that were all ofsted inspected and run at the current ratios! Surely increasing ratios would see these incidents increasing?

badgerhead Thu 07-Feb-13 13:29:16

I have a question, if the proposed increase in ratios were to go ahead, despite the obvious disagreement about the proposals, how will the childminders who decide to take on 4 young children then still care for their 3 children on the compulsory childcare register (i.e. the 5 to 7 year olds) when we will still be limited to 6 children under 8 years old? Does this mean that they will give notice to one of those families who will then struggle to find alternative childcare for their school aged child. I know I won't want to upset families should I decide to increase my ratio's (I wouldn't) especially as at the school I take to & collect children from there are only 3 regular childminders to cover a 2 form entry primary school, the after school club that used to collect children by car has closed down and therefore parent's really struggle to find childcare for new entrants especially. I am sorry but your proposals have not been well thought out, do not have the support of child-carer's across the sector or of the parents. Please give up and withdraw them like your colleague has listened and withdrawn the proposals on the table regarding GCSE exams. Oh & I am level 4 qualified, currently doing my BA in Early Years, have over 30 experience as a member of the Scout Association both as a leader, Commissioner and now Appointments Board member.

Still Confused :-/

Narch Thu 07-Feb-13 13:29:52

The evidence aginst the proposed ratio change is clear at http://www.scribd.com/doc/122622476/Nursery-Ratios-and-Babies-under-12m-in-Nursery
and there is consensus across the sector against this. Will the Minister re consider the proposal as 21,000 have signed a petition against it?

Bicnod Thu 07-Feb-13 13:29:55

A key part of the support for many families are the 15 free hours available for all 3yr olds. How is something available to all children 'fragmented'? Likewise the salary sacrifice vouchers are available to all parents whose employers join the scheme. Once joined it's very simple to use. I'm not sure exactly what is 'really complex and fragmented'

EasilyBored Thu 07-Feb-13 13:30:06

But will you enforce the lowering of fees, or will it be left up to nurseries to do this out of the goodness of their own heart?

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:30:09

chazzy2008

lots and lots???? seriously??? how many did you consult...were any of them the over 40,000 that have sigend 2 petitions opposing your changes??? where can we contact these people to ask what their views where???

Bicnod

Yes, please can you answer the 'lots and lots' question?

It was quite a patronising response and lots and lots of people have now asked for clarification on this point.

I've held a series of meetings with nursery providers, interested organisations like the Daycare Trust, NCMA, My Family Care and nanny agencies.

Meglet Thu 07-Feb-13 13:30:15

It doesn't matter how many qualifications someone has, it is still not reasonable to expect them to provide quality care and love to so many young children at once.

These plans strike me as a way of establishing mega-nurserys with few staff and loads of kids. Probably so the Tories can force low earners / single parents back to work, reduce their childcare tax credits even further and make them use these souless 'nurseries.

olgaga Thu 07-Feb-13 13:30:17

Please explain exactly how you think these proposals will reduce the cost to parents of childcare. Both nurseries and childminders tend to work at capacity in terms of their physical space and capability.

There is no way childminders are going to reduce their rates - around here they only charge £4 per hour per child - it costs more to hire a dog walker/sitter.

If anything they will be able to charge more for the more exclusive, child-centred care they offer in comparison to nurseries.

Chasco Thu 07-Feb-13 13:30:23

I am a qualified teacher. I have worked in nursery classes in areas of high deprivation with ratios of 1:13. It was well-nigh impossible to spend quality one-to-one time with the children. We know that many of the funded two year olds have poor language and social skills. How are staff working with them on a ratio of 1:6 expected to give them the precious time they need/ Even a PhD practitioner only has two eyes and two hands

Dawnev Thu 07-Feb-13 13:31:01

Some of the major national nursery chains have been quoted as saying the actual reduction to costs for parents would likely be no more than £3.50 per week..... yet the impact on the professionals will be huge with job cuts as less staff required to care for the same numbers currently cared for and the added stress for the staff with the qualifications to be kept on

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:31:16

OptimisticPessimist

I think the ratio issue has been well covered already (and it thankfully won't affect us here in Scotland) so I'd like to ask a different childcare related question.

If your Government is so committed to helping working families afford childcare, then why in its very first budget did it cut the childcare element of working tax credits from 80% to 70%? This was a change that cost parents of two or more children £30 a week, which is a massive amount for those on low incomes. It had a massive impact on me as a lone parent, and I ended up resigning and now claim income support. The childcare element puts money into the economy by contributing to the employment and income of childcare workers, so what reason did your Government have for cutting this benefit?

I would like to point out that the ratios in Scotland (and Ireland) are higher. Ratios in Scotland for 2 year olds are 1:5, and in Ireland are 1:6.

Lostonthemoors Thu 07-Feb-13 13:31:44

The key questions here are not being answered.

What real pressure will there be on nurseries to reduce fees?

Why would nurseries increase wages when we are in a recession and there is a large pool of applicants willing to work for low wages?

Why have you not consulted widely?

Why do you keep talking about your own experiences as a parent when you have never used these types of Childcare?

Dawnev Thu 07-Feb-13 13:32:54

Is the minister publicly stating that she has had meetings with the NCMA and child minders belonging to the NCMA that have given a favourable response to the creation of child minder agencies? As if this is the case there will be many NCMA registered child minders that will have an awful lot more to say about the matter very publicly

CmMum Thu 07-Feb-13 13:33:14

Is this England childcare or Wales too...if it does involve Wales, then maybe you should be adding cssiw(care standards) as we are not governed by Ofsted!

Bicnod Thu 07-Feb-13 13:33:45

I still don't feel you have answered this question adequately. How many PARENTS were consulted, how many childcare providers (nurseries and childminders)?

It is very clear from your response that the answer is NOT ENOUGH.

Bonkerz Thu 07-Feb-13 13:33:54

It's important to bear in mind also with regards the free 15 hour nursery funding that (as reported constantly in nursery world) private day nurseries are LOSING money when offering it. In many areas the amount given by the council does not cover the fees charged by the settings.

Narch Thu 07-Feb-13 13:34:17

Have you considered that the reason PVI providers don't currently take up the 1:13 'opportunity' for 3+ year olds where there is a graduate is because it doesn't offer quality provision?

OptimisticPessimist Thu 07-Feb-13 13:34:25

Ratios for babies are 1:3 in Scotland (and I wouldn't be happy with even that ratio for a baby which is why I've never used one).

Thanks for not answering my actual question though hmm

midnightexpress Thu 07-Feb-13 13:34:35

"The primary purpose of our change to ratios is to give nurseries the headroom to increase staff qualifications and pay. To give an illustration, currently the average childcare professional is earning £13,000 per year. If the nursery fulfilled the rigorous qualification requirements that we're setting out, they would be able to move to a higher ratio and pay those staff £16,000 per year, and there would still be money left over to reduce fees."

Note: not a SINGLE thing there about any benefit to the children...

CmMum Thu 07-Feb-13 13:34:39

Liz, have you actually looked at the 2 petitions that have got over 20000 signatures from both parents and childminders...?. Surely that will state that we do not agree with this, which says a lot more than your "lots and lots" you have spoken to?!

chazzy2008 Thu 07-Feb-13 13:34:43

and will you publish your discussions with those agencies you claim to have held meetings with???

I would like to echo moonbells question - can the minister clarify what the future help for 5+ childcare will be? Funding afterschool care and holiday clubs through childcare vouchers is essential for us to continue to work.

It would seem terribly shortsighted to support families up to the age of five, only for one parent to have to stop work when school starts.

SouthernPolish Thu 07-Feb-13 13:35:17

Dawnev said: Is the minister publicly stating that she has had meetings with the NCMA and child minders belonging to the NCMA that have given a favourable response to the creation of child minder agencies? As if this is the case there will be many NCMA registered child minders that will have an awful lot more to say about the matter very publicly
I WILL RESIGN FROM THE NCMA IF THIS IS THE CASE - AND SO WILL MANY OTHERS

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:35:17

Bonkerz

Ms truss please can I suggest that you try answering The core questions rather than copying and pasting from the report you have published. Many I us have already read your views but they contradict everything us qualified an experienced early years practitioner already know.
shockHOW EXACTLY will higher ratios reduce costs to parents?
shockHOW EXACTLY will practitioners spread themselves between all the children and still offer quality care an education
shockWhilst agencies won't be compulsory they will be advertised as the best way to find childcare so why would a parent look anywhere else? I presume the current CiS will be scrapped meaning advertising for independent childminders will be harder.

Hi Bonkerz,

I've answered the question about the impact of ratios on higher quality and cost.

I probably sound like the report because I've done a lot of work on it. Iv'e spent a lot of time talking to people, visiting other countries and because it's an issue that's close to my heart. The point about the way nurseries operate that I;ve noticed in France, there's quite a structured approach where qualified professionals organise activities for groups of children, and I think that is beneficial . Children and parents are very happy with that. I'm not saying every nursery in England should operate in that way, but I do think parents should have a choice of a more structured approach, with highly qualified professionals.

JustCallMeBaldrick Thu 07-Feb-13 13:35:17

Liz,
Isn't the proposal aboutOfsted being the Quality Assessors a bit ridiculous, as they'll then be assessing their own ideas?
Surely that aspect should remain within the remit of LAs?

JanetDeath Thu 07-Feb-13 13:35:27

I can fully believe that the heads of many nursery providers may have given their support to your proposals, seeing as nursery chains are likely to benefit financially from cutting costs, with no obligation to reduce fees.

The question everyone would like to know the answer to is how many parents/nursery workers/childminders did you consult on these proposals?

Bicnod Thu 07-Feb-13 13:35:31

And what will it take for the government to back down and admit (for once) that it is wrong? This is such an appallingly bad idea - I have not met a single person who agrees with it. How can you just push it through in the face of all this opposition?

MrsToof Thu 07-Feb-13 13:35:59

I'm in the midlands and work 50+ a week as a minder my days are long 7.30 till 6pm, Plus evenings trying to kerp up with the EYFS framework, i work myself to the ground to bring home 8k per annum. How can I maintain costs and keep my sanity on less than minimum wage with these changes? Ditch the out of hours paperwork and realise that childminders should be providing a home from home style of childcare where children are loved and cared for as an extension of the minders own family and then you might see some cost reduction.

Narch Thu 07-Feb-13 13:36:29

Personally, am appalled by the prospect of 2 year olds on school sites - completely inappropriate for their development needs. Is the Minister responding to the needs of toddlers or a long shot on meeting the target to deliver 2 yr old places by 2014?

There's another half an hour left but I'm not sure what point there is to continuing when the Minister has made it quite clear she isn't actually interested in listening to what parents are saying. OptimisticPessimist asked a specific question about a change and her post was just used as a peg to hang a piece of info on. Other countries may have other ratios but that doesn't mean they're doing the best thing for the children concerned.

243J Thu 07-Feb-13 13:37:02

It would be a very unusual case - there are not many lone parents who would have this number of children under the age of two, not only would they be unlucky enough to find themselves in the position of being a lone parent but they would have had to have had at least one multiple birth to have this number of children in this age range, so the argument is rather preposterous.

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:37:25

Someone's mentioned the different funding in France on Twitter. It is true that we need to make our funding system more efficient so that more reaches the front line, I completely agree, but even within existing nursery budgets, I've illustrated that good nurseries could upskill staff and take on more children at the same time.

Chasco Thu 07-Feb-13 13:37:46

You say you could not find a nursery for your children so had to use a nanny. May I ask why you did not use the House of Commons nursery, which I understand has places?

TiggyD Thu 07-Feb-13 13:37:55

Is there going to be a minimum wage for these new 'baby teachers'? If not, why should employers pay them more? Why couldn't we have a situation like the EYPS where people spent ages getting a qualification and then finding out nobody wanted them?

Dawnev Thu 07-Feb-13 13:38:54

Dawnev said: Is the minister publicly stating that she has had meetings with the NCMA and child minders belonging to the NCMA that have given a favourable response to the creation of child minder agencies? As if this is the case there will be many NCMA registered child minders that will have an awful lot more to say about the matter very publicly
I WILL RESIGN FROM THE NCMA IF THIS IS THE CASE - AND SO WILL MANY OTHERS

Please can the minister answer this question as it has huge ramifications for a professional body that I am proud to be a part of

Lostonthemoors Thu 07-Feb-13 13:39:47

The government's eyfs does not recommend a highly structured set up for the very young children in nurseries. Why do you keep talking about how structure is beneficial?

These 'meetings' you had where you consulted 'lots and lots' of people have been described by some participants on here - they have said they told you the ideas were not workable.

This is embarrassing and I say this as a Tory voter at the last election.

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:40:16

mellowcat

I am an NNEB nursery nurse with a first class honours degree in Early Childhood Studies, a Masters Degree in Early Childhood and twenty years experience of working in nurseries with children under the age of three. Myself and similarly qualified colleagues are contemplating leaving the profession as soon as the ratio changes come into force as experience tells us that this simply will not work. It is very easy to say that nurseries have a choice, but there is often no choice for the practitioners working within them. I would rather leave than fail the infants in my care.

First of all, I'm a big fan of NNEB, and our new Early Years Educator qualification is going to learn the lessons from this really well-respected qualification. No nursery is going to be forced to change their ratios. This is about giving flexibility to nurseries and allowing professionals to exercise their judgment, provided they're hiring sufficiently qualified staff. For example, it may be the case that a staff member is ill one day, or there's one extra child which the nursery needs to accommodate for a short amount of time. These arrangements will give nurseries the flexibility to deal with that without having to let parents down, or children.

chazzy2008 Thu 07-Feb-13 13:40:20

I notice that there doesnt appear to be a single poster on here that agrees with the minister??? Surely if she had consulted "lots and lots" of childminders and parents then they would be on here supporting her??

vezzie Thu 07-Feb-13 13:41:00

Hello Ms Truss,

Picking up on a few points you have made today:

- parents pay too much for EY childcare
- childcarers are paid too little
- which is particulary apparent when viewed relative to primary school teachers

Yes, this is because we have a state-funded education system that does not require every parent who would like their child to be literate and numerate to fork out private fees of £20k pa or thereabouts.
Why are you not considering some equivalent - or even partial equivalent, eg significant tax breaks as mentioned by renlo last night at 18.16 ?
Instead, degrading ratios for very young children will degrade care, and everyone knows it.

Secondly - please can you clarify that you are going to listen to non-cherry-picked feedback from childcare professionals and parents? I see no evidence of this so far.

EasilyBored Thu 07-Feb-13 13:41:09

This is an issue close to everyone's hearts hmm For many women, the choice to use professional childcare in order to return to work is a very emotional one, and many women find themselves feeling guilty about even wanting to work. I'm sure you can understand the complex emotions around the desire to return to work and the need to ensure our child is loved and protected and cared for and the feelings that come along with having someone else do that for you. To add into this mix the fact that their baby may now be being cared for by someone who is also trying to care for three other similar aged children (and all four could in fact not be walking at this stage) and is therefore going to be getting less 1:1 attention and care. I honestly think this will put women off returning to work. What would you say to that argument?

mellowcat Thu 07-Feb-13 13:41:25

Many two-year-old children sleep at nursery after lunch. Could you please explain how one worker could possibly carry six sleeping children out of a burning building quickly enough to save them?

243J Thu 07-Feb-13 13:41:29

I thought this country needed children who would grow up being able to be innovative - my sister who teaches A level English /English Lit says she can tell the children who have spent time in organised nurseries rather than places where they can use their imagination, as they have no imagination when it comes to writing stories and poetry.

MrsJamin Thu 07-Feb-13 13:41:53

I am on the committee of a parent-run charity preschool, run on a shoestring of a budget. We are very concerned that this change in ratio will justify a sudden decrease in amount per funded 3/4 year old per hour. If this was to happen we and many others would close leaving only expensive business-led nurseries to provide places with these ridiculous ratios. How is that helping parents and children? Can you confirm that the amount per funded child will not drop?

Craftsonsea Thu 07-Feb-13 13:42:24

Liz, can you confirm what your daughters had in the way of Childcare please?

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:42:42

NicoleWild

I would like to know.

I agree with your ideas and proposals that people working with young children should be of a higher educational level. Degrees would be perfect. That's great for preschools, and to raise salaries as well.

What would happen to us Childminders? Who generally work longer hours than nurseries and preschools often offering overnight, emergency care etc.

I could spend £5,000 or however much it is on a Degree and still only be paid £3.50 per HOUR. I work 50 hours a week which doesn't include out of hours paperwork. Who will raise out salaries? If I had a degree, and as a Childminder I will be earning 9,200PA or I could work in a nursery and receive 20k PA ISH, I'd be working in a nursery pronto. Less and less Childminders.... I don't like the idea of that.

Nicole, I really agree with you about the importance of qualifications. We've just introduced a new Ofsted framework which is much more focused on child outcomes, and I know that Ofsted is very keen to take more account of qualifications of staff in their assessments. Over the past 20 years, the number of childminders has halved. I'm very keen to reverse that trend. One of the measures we're taking is making sure that Ofsted approved childminders can offer the three and four-year-old places without having to jump through further hoops.

Lostonthemoors Thu 07-Feb-13 13:42:50

Bicnod, as a Tory voter I am mortified by how this government keeps bringing out ill thought proposals and having to back down:

- selling off forests
- removing tax reliefs on charitable donations
- culling badgers

This is just the latest in a line of proposals which are put together without proper consultation or research.

moogy1a Thu 07-Feb-13 13:42:54

How many childminders did you consult about these proposed changes?
I'm sure nurseries were in favour as they will increase profit ( with no benefit to the parents); and I'm a little unsure why you consulted nannies as I can't imagine many nannies look after 4 little ones at once ( did you just ask your own nanny her opinion?).

I think you've been more than a little disingenuous by saying you understand the problems of finding childcare when you have only ever used a nanny which isn't an option for the vast majority of parents ( who will instead have to use a nursery where their baby will be one of many being ignored by overworked staff)

Narch Thu 07-Feb-13 13:43:15

There is NO CONSENSUS for a change in ratios - early years professionals and parents are clearly and vocally opposed to this. The Minister should begin with a comprehensive consultation with the sector. NDNA have long lobbied for changes to VAT and business rates, but ultimately supply side subsidy (as in Nordic countries) would be a major step towards affordability.

midnightexpress Thu 07-Feb-13 13:43:17

'I;ve noticed in France, there's quite a structured approach where qualified professionals organise activities for groups of children, and I think that is beneficial. '

Have you considered the possibility that it's the only possible way of organising large groups of children - it has to be highly structured or it would be complete chaos. Doesn't necessarily mean it's beneficial for child development.

SouthernPolish Thu 07-Feb-13 13:43:25

YES chazzy2008: I notice that there doesnt appear to be a single poster on here that agrees with the minister??? Surely if she had consulted "lots and lots" of childminders and parents then they would be on here supporting her??

Liz: will you please just admit that you are barking up the wrong tree completely and that you need to stop NOW and do the job properly.

Parents and Childcare professionals WILL NOT BE FOBBED OFF!

Roll on 2015 - it could not come soon enough.

Bonkerz Thu 07-Feb-13 13:43:29

Thanks for replying ms truss but it didn't really answer my question. When you discuss the French system etc you are referring to what are effectively pre schools with older children NOT under 3s........ It is this age group which the higher ratio will have a Damaging effect on.

Tensixtysix Thu 07-Feb-13 13:44:06

What happened to the idea of 'Freeplay' for children? I thought there had to be a balance between child led and adult led play. France is far too regimented, even my friend who lived out there for a few years said it was just too much for little ones.

Rachels345 Thu 07-Feb-13 13:44:17

If u want to save money surely u should be looking at tax credit fraud i dont have a problem with it going to agencies i just cant see how thats going to save u money and benifit children as especially with the ratios as young children need one to one care thats y people choose childminders

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:44:18

JustCallMeBaldrick

Liz,
Isn't the proposal aboutOfsted being the Quality Assessors a bit ridiculous, as they'll then be assessing their own ideas?
Surely that aspect should remain within the remit of LAs?

At the moment, Ofsted are the only organisation with the power to actually close down an early years provider, so that's who nurseries are ultimately accountable to. I think one of the problems with our current system is that if something does happen, providers can be uncertain about who to call. I hope this change will help clarify accountability and as I've mentioned, Ofsted are particularly keen to make sure weaker providers improve.

nicecupotea Thu 07-Feb-13 13:44:35

The county I live in had an extensive bank of childminding development officers suported by the NCMA.They were an invaluable source of support when I started childminding. A couple of years ago they were all given their marching orders because of lack of funds.
I will ask again, how will these 'agencies' be funded?

starlight78 Thu 07-Feb-13 13:45:52

Although my question was answered, there is absolutely no reference to what I had actually stated.

Nonetheless, I think it is important not to pick and choose what other countries are doing. You keep repeating that this is what France etc. are doing. These 'other' countries have different types of people altogether. They have different morals and values. I simply cannot understand why you keep comparing us with other countries. If we wanted French childcare I think half of us would be packing our bags now with a French Dictionary.

Lostonthemoors Thu 07-Feb-13 13:46:59

How many nurseries did you visit in France?

CmMum Thu 07-Feb-13 13:47:39

As you can see from my username, I am a cm as well as a mum, like a lot of people here, and as a mum AND a cm I would not like my children to be in with a higher ratio if children to staff...

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:48:20

Bicnod

I still don't feel you have answered this question adequately. How many PARENTS were consulted, how many childcare providers (nurseries and childminders)?

It is very clear from your response that the answer is NOT ENOUGH.

We'll post a list of all the people we've consulted with when developing these proposals. Can I highlight again that all of these changes that we're proposing are voluntary for the providers, and only if they meet rigorous quality checks. Parents ultimately have the choice about where they go for childcare, but my strong observation as a parent is that the choice is really limited, difficult to find and expensive. I want to enable good providers to expand, make sure that we get more childminders, and improve the information available for parents.

mrscog Thu 07-Feb-13 13:48:23

Can I ask a supplementary question?

If the proposed ratio changes for under 2's are to help with crossover/emergency situations then what safeguards will there be to ensure that private nurseries do not exploit the change of ratio to produce 'battery' nurseries?

gazzalw Thu 07-Feb-13 13:48:32

Where is the credible UK-based research backing up this policy, Ms Truss?

vezzie Thu 07-Feb-13 13:48:49

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

chazzy2008 Thu 07-Feb-13 13:49:56

I agree starlight78...if we wanted our children educated and cared for like the French do we would move there....why do we have to be constantly told we need to be doing things the way other countries do it??? childminders are doing it right at the moment...why fix something that isnt broken????

CmMum Thu 07-Feb-13 13:49:56

At the moment, Ofsted are the only organisation with the power to actually close down an early years provider, so that's who nurseries are ultimately accountable to. I think one of the problems with our current system is that if something does happen, providers can be uncertain about who to call. I hope this change will help clarify accountability and as I've mentioned, Ofsted are particularly keen to make sure weaker providers improve.

Actually wrong, cssiw here in Wales for childminders, not all childcarers, and I can assure you that the cssiw inspectors are also horrified with the increase of ratios.

gazzalw Thu 07-Feb-13 13:50:31

The parents consulted are probably all Whitehall Mandarins hmm.

TryDrawing Thu 07-Feb-13 13:50:31

Hello Liz, best of luck today.

My question relates to that fact that for many parents, having a child means that their salary no longer significantly exceeds their childcare bill. For these parents, the choice to work (and therefore pay tax) is not purely financial. They need to find good enough quality childcare to convince them to leave their child there, whilst going to work for a very small, if any, net financial gain to the family.

Decreasing the number of staff per child, particularly in under twos, would be more of a deterrant to many people than slightly reduced costs would be an incentive.

Well subsidised, high quality childcare from birth, on the other hand, would make a huge difference. Cost to parents in the order of £15 per day is what I'm thinking. I believe this sort of thing is in place in many of the countries you have mentioned as examples of having better systems than us.

Did you consider this option and, if so, why was it rejected?

Chattercat Thu 07-Feb-13 13:50:47

What has happened to child led play in all this structure. Children learn through play not structured activities, they need to use imagination.

I don't think you have any intention of listening to us, why else are you blocking us on Twitter?

As for NCMA members being happy about agencies, this is just a lie. I have not spoken to a single Childminder who would be happy with this.

It's time to follow your master (gove) and do u turn now before your damaging proposals start to harm our children.

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:50:54

midnightexpress

'I;ve noticed in France, there's quite a structured approach where qualified professionals organise activities for groups of children, and I think that is beneficial. '

Have you considered the possibility that it's the only possible way of organising large groups of children - it has to be highly structured or it would be complete chaos. Doesn't necessarily mean it's beneficial for child development.

There are different approaches, certainly from what I've seen in nurseries I've visited like Durand, the structured approach has helped children later on in their education. The head teacher, Greg Martin, told me that children who'd been with them since age 3 were better at learning and concentrating by the time they'd reached age 7. Of course there are different styles of learning for a 3 year old and a 7 year old, but all of the evidence does point to the importance of highly qualified professionals. We'll post some examples of how play and structure can be combined.

HappySunflower Thu 07-Feb-13 13:50:54

Anyone else sitting here feeling increasingly frustrated?

We HAVE high quality provision already.There are providers that need to improve, yes, but that's the case in any country.

These responses are really quite patronising, and suggest that you have a very low opinion of current standards in childcare in this country.
I think you need to remember that, as well as being parents, a great number of us make up part of the childcare workforce.
WE are the people you should be listening to and consulting with. Instead I feel that questions aren't being answered, and that, frankly, I've wasted my time in posting the questions I did.

Disappointed. sad

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 07-Feb-13 13:51:27

Reminder folks to stick to one question - and perhaps a follow up - each please? So more people can get answered.

BettyStogs Thu 07-Feb-13 13:51:45

Given the huge amount of oppostion to these plans on here and in other places e.g. the petition linked to above, are you now going to reconsider the plans or are you going to push them through despite not being what parents, childminders or nursery staff want?

nicecupotea Thu 07-Feb-13 13:51:47

Where will this 'list' be posted Ms Truss?
I would very much like to see it and contact the childcare providers that you consulted with.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 07-Feb-13 13:51:54

I would like to point out that the ratios in Scotland (and Ireland) are higher. Ratios in Scotland for 2 year olds are 1:5

Yes. But you are not giving the full story.

Scotland
U2 1:3
2-3 1:5
3+ 1:8

England Currently
U2 1:3
2-3 1:4
3+ 1:8

England Proposed
U2 1:4
2-3 1:6
3+ 1:8

vezzie Thu 07-Feb-13 13:52:29

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SouthernPolish Thu 07-Feb-13 13:52:41

"We'll post a list of all the people we've consulted with when developing these proposals."
It will be VERY interesting to see if the NCMA is on that list - as a few questions will need answering... I hope the NCMA did not actually agree with your 'proposals'.
NCMA if you are reading - please respond ASAP.

Lostonthemoors Thu 07-Feb-13 13:53:01

To say parents have choice is highly disingenuous. As you yourself have said, childcare in the UK is very expensive.

Reducing the staff required at the regulatory level would probably result in most nurseries reducing their staff on the ground because they will make more money that way.

For many parents nursery is their only option and if all local settings have reduced their staff in line with the new ratios there will be absolutely no choice.

ParentsAbroad Thu 07-Feb-13 13:53:45

I am a childminder and here is my issue.

There are, I'm sure, some minders out there who would be quite happy to take on extra children in order to earn more money. So if some minders are either inexperienced or unqualified, and decide to lower their fees slightly to draw in business and go for four under fives, are they not going to attract those families on the lowest salaries? Research shows that children's disadvantage correlates directly with poor income, so those children who are already at a disadvantage at home will now be at even more of a disadvantage with their childcare provider.

How will you stop this from happening?

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:54:17

EasilyBored

This is an issue close to everyone's hearts hmm For many women, the choice to use professional childcare in order to return to work is a very emotional one, and many women find themselves feeling guilty about even wanting to work. I'm sure you can understand the complex emotions around the desire to return to work and the need to ensure our child is loved and protected and cared for and the feelings that come along with having someone else do that for you. To add into this mix the fact that their baby may now be being cared for by someone who is also trying to care for three other similar aged children (and all four could in fact not be walking at this stage) and is therefore going to be getting less 1:1 attention and care. I honestly think this will put women off returning to work. What would you say to that argument?

I completely agree that it can be very difficult to find the right childcare and feel that your child is being well cared for while you're not there. I think if you look at the numbers of working parents in Britain compared to other countries, fewer in this country go out to work than they do in France and Germany, and one of the reasons for that is the affordability and availability of affordable childcare that parents can be confident with. The basic point I want to make is in this country, we do tend to look at the quantity of staff, rather than the qualifications, which is a different approach from almost everywhere else. For example in Denmark and Sweden there are no national ratios, and as a parent, I really put high value on having really well qualified people.

nicecupotea Thu 07-Feb-13 13:54:38

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ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:55:34

nicecupotea

The county I live in had an extensive bank of childminding development officers suported by the NCMA.They were an invaluable source of support when I started childminding. A couple of years ago they were all given their marching orders because of lack of funds.
I will ask again, how will these 'agencies' be funded?

Essentially, the agencies will be able to receive various streams of funding like the 3 and 4 year old offer, and funding from parents. They're a different way of childminders operating but these agencies are independent of Government.

vezzie Thu 07-Feb-13 13:55:54

"and as a parent" - what sort of childcare did you use Ms Truss? (someone else has asked this already but I don't see an answer)

Dawnev Thu 07-Feb-13 13:56:49

If the current support is removed from local authorities responsibilities with the setting up of agencies, how does the minister expect the child minders who chose not to join an agency to get support and training? There will be no choice for child minders as the market and conditions will be such that it will be a case of join an agency or go out of business

neolara Thu 07-Feb-13 13:57:06

I'm afraid that I think you have completely NOT answered the main question about ratios. You've stated that carers who are more highly qualified (degree level) may be able to provide a better quality of care in some situations. I think many people would agree with you on this. However, the needs of a 6 month old are completely different to the needs of a 3 year old. A 6 month old needs to be responded to quickly and effectively. A 3 month old is learning how to fit in with the needs of others. I, and apparently the whole of Mumsnet, fail to see how one person can respond quickly and effectively to 4 babies.

outstandingchildminderMK Thu 07-Feb-13 13:57:10

Will the government be reviewing the way that the childcare element of tax credits is paid?

I am an outstanding childminder and EYP

Since September I have had to report one family for using my Ofsted number to claim tax credits when they only used my services for two weeks then left without notice. This is a normal practice in our area.

I am loosing my only full time child this week because her mother, a single parent, has been using her childcare element of tax credits to pay her rent and not me!!

The government needs to review the way this is paid so the money can only be used for childcare.

Craftsonsea Thu 07-Feb-13 13:57:22

"The head teacher, Greg Martin, told me that children who'd been with them since age 3 were better at learning and concentrating by the time they'd reached age 7. Of course there are different styles of learning for a 3 year old and a 7 year old..."
Yes I'm sure that is true, but were talking about two year olds here, and there's still a lot of difference between two and three years old.
Sorry mumsnet, I'll go do the housework now!!

moogy1a Thu 07-Feb-13 13:57:32

as a parent, I really put high value on having really well qualified people.
well yes, if you have a nanny you can afford to be picky. in the real world nurseries will employ fewer people under your proposal. Surely you can see that?

KatyMac Thu 07-Feb-13 13:57:40

I operate a mixed age (4 months to school age) childminding setting.

We can already use higher than childminding ratios as I have a registration as Childcare on Domestic Premises.

I am an Early Years Professional

If I & my team have decided that currently the ratios we use are the best ratios for our children; will we be persuaded to use the new ratios?

I am also strongly against reducing 'monitoring' reducing the councils input is fine if it's replaced by a yearly OFSTED inspection (perhaps a yearly spot check & a 3 yearly paperwork inspection)?

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 13:57:43

HappySunflower

Anyone else sitting here feeling increasingly frustrated?

We HAVE high quality provision already.There are providers that need to improve, yes, but that's the case in any country.

These responses are really quite patronising, and suggest that you have a very low opinion of current standards in childcare in this country.
I think you need to remember that, as well as being parents, a great number of us make up part of the childcare workforce.
WE are the people you should be listening to and consulting with. Instead I feel that questions aren't being answered, and that, frankly, I've wasted my time in posting the questions I did.

Disappointed. sad

I'm trying to respond to the questions and listening to what people say, and meeting lots of people face to face as well. I'm sorry if my point isn't coming across as I mean it to, because I really do think looking after and educating young children is a really important job. And £6.60 per hour as the average wage really isn't good enough. We want really highly motivated professionals like you to be recognised for what you do.

MrsToof Thu 07-Feb-13 13:58:04

Just a quick thought, if I can successfully file my tax return each year and keep my childminding accounts in order, why do i need GCSE maths? Not sure I need to teach quadratic equations to early years?

Bonkerz Thu 07-Feb-13 13:58:49

Nothing has been answered. The mass of views here and on the petition and emails sent to ms truss are being ignored. What's being skipped over is these PROPOsALS are being implemented!!!!! It's a disgrace and when it all falls apart I wonder where MS TRUSS will be then. Come and do a day shift in my village with some very committed and qualified childminders and then see if it fits with your 'extensive research' !!!!

nicecupotea Thu 07-Feb-13 13:59:08

'Various streams of funding' mmmmmmm!
Good answer, but not the required one unfortunately.

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 14:00:02

Chattercat

What has happened to child led play in all this structure. Children learn through play not structured activities, they need to use imagination.

I don't think you have any intention of listening to us, why else are you blocking us on Twitter?

As for NCMA members being happy about agencies, this is just a lie. I have not spoken to a single Childminder who would be happy with this.

It's time to follow your master (gove) and do u turn now before your damaging proposals start to harm our children.

The point about structure is that I think parents should have this option. There are various opinions on the best way of managing an early education facility. I'm not a childcare professional, but what I do think is that we need to give room for various different models to operate, and parents can then make judgments about what suits their child.

Lostonthemoors Thu 07-Feb-13 14:00:08

It takes a brave and able person to admit to being wrong. Please please think again sad

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 07-Feb-13 14:00:44

Lost Politicians are never brave and noble

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 14:01:13

KatyMac

I operate a mixed age (4 months to school age) childminding setting.

We can already use higher than childminding ratios as I have a registration as Childcare on Domestic Premises.

I am an Early Years Professional

If I & my team have decided that currently the ratios we use are the best ratios for our children; will we be persuaded to use the new ratios?

I am also strongly against reducing 'monitoring' reducing the councils input is fine if it's replaced by a yearly OFSTED inspection (perhaps a yearly spot check & a 3 yearly paperwork inspection)?

It's entirely up to you whether you use the new flexibilities. This is all about allowing professionals to make more decisions about what happens in their setting.

LilaP Thu 07-Feb-13 14:01:14

ms Truss

May I point out that you dont have to be qualified to be good at your job!
Is there going to be funding available for existing childminders to get "more qualifications" ?

LilyBolero Thu 07-Feb-13 14:02:24

Ms Truss, only just spotted this webchat!

I would happily lend you my 2 yo, along with 3 others, and 2 babies for a day. I would wish you all the best of British luck....would you like to take me up on this.

EasilyBored Thu 07-Feb-13 14:02:38

Completely ignoring the issue of other countries using highly subsidised childcare, the cultural difference in expectations from parents and families and the social and economic climate of those countries as compared to ours <headdesk>. I also put value on having highly qualified people, but no-where have you mentioned anything about how this might benefit (HA!) the children in any way, there is no guarantee that costs will go down, parents are overwhelmingly against these proposals, childcare professionals have serious concerns that are not being addressed and you are just repeating things you have already said.

And no one is pointing out the giant elephant in the room that maybe if you just increased minimum wage to a real living wage, improved tax breaks for working parents using childcare, looked at the appalling costs of private renting, and forced employers to seriously consider flexible working patterns (rather than the cursory once over they are obliged to give them now) then more people would have more incentive to work.

I am tired of the sound bites and circular answers. It is clear that the public DO NOT WANT THIS. Please just listen for once.

However, in the name of MN guidelines, no more questions from me.

midnightexpress Thu 07-Feb-13 14:02:42

'There are different approaches, certainly from what I've seen in nurseries I've visited like Durand, the structured approach has helped children later on in their education. The head teacher, Greg Martin, told me that children who'd been with them since age 3 were better at learning and concentrating by the time they'd reached age 7. Of course there are different styles of learning for a 3 year old and a 7 year old, but all of the evidence does point to the importance of highly qualified professionals.'

Well, he would say that wouldn't he? There are plenty of other people saying that freeplay is more beneficial to young children. I don't see much evidence of the massive benefits of the approach on, for example, the French economy (since that appears to be the main interest of your parrty in all of this).

I'm sure that good qualifications are important, but I don't agree that this should translate to worse child:carer ratios. You can have degrees coming out of your ears but it doesn't mean you're able to look after more children better - there is no logical connection between the two. Though I guess your GCSE in maths will enable you to count the vast number of children in your care, or divide them into sets for structured English and maths activities...

HappySunflower Thu 07-Feb-13 14:02:45

The Labour government was far from perfect, but the one thing they did superbly was to invest heavily in Early Years and Sure Start.

In the past few years, so much of that work has been undone by thus government.

Yes, of course we want recognition, but not at the expense of standards and quality.

Chasco Thu 07-Feb-13 14:03:43

I could weep! Ms Truss, you appear to think you know so much better than anyone else. You say you have huge respect for those working in the early years sector. So why are you not listening to us?

KatyMac Thu 07-Feb-13 14:04:21

Really?

That will be a nice change; normally advice & suggestions & best practise are actually requirements that you can be downgraded for not complying with

& yes I have evidence for that

well, she didnt answer many of those questions did she?????

olgaga Thu 07-Feb-13 14:04:41

Elizabeth Truss you have said:

The primary purpose of our change to ratios is to give nurseries the headroom to increase staff qualifications and pay. To give an illustration, currently the average childcare professional is earning £13,000 per year. If the nursery fulfilled the rigorous qualification requirements that we're setting out, they would be able to *move to a higher ratio and pay those staff £16,000 per year, and there would still be money left over to reduce fees*.

You think that nurseries can pay more for fewer more highly qualified staff, who will look after more children than at present, and reduce fees?

And you don't think the care of children will suffer?

SouthernPolish Thu 07-Feb-13 14:04:47

Chasco - I'm proud to admin I AM weeping...

MrAnchovy Thu 07-Feb-13 14:05:00

Elizabeth, you said: "Essentially, the agencies will be able to receive various streams of funding like the 3 and 4 year old offer, and funding from parents."

Isn't that taking away from the "front line" all the money that you are putting back in - plus overhead and profit?

Chattercat Thu 07-Feb-13 14:05:14

From your proposals it is clear you are not a childcare professional. You have no idea how children learn and develop, and you are not listening to us or the parents!

sarahnev707 Thu 07-Feb-13 14:05:15

Ms Truss, with respect, you are wrong - you keep saying that the childminders in your area need to take 3 children with them to buy milk. You said it in your NW interview and again here.
This is wrong - they can write a change to the conditions of their registration (variation / exception) following current Ofsted guidelines and EYFS requirements so they do not have to do this. As I suggested previously, please ask Ofsted or one of the childminders you apparently consult with if you would like further clarification of the flexibly that already exists within the current requirements.
One (of my many) concerns is that you are getting confused and that this confusion is maybe why you think you are doing the right thing with changing the ratios - when no change is needed.

Dawnev Thu 07-Feb-13 14:05:15

Liz,

I have asked you via twitter to come and visit us in Wigan and see how good local authority support can and does run to support child minders. I have also asked the question what will happen to this support if child minders chose not to join an agency.

Your lack of response leads me to believe that you are already aware that removing the support in place with local authorities will happen meaning child minders will have no choice but to join an agency or go out of business. Thus many very good and highly skilled professionals will be removed from the childcare arena reducing numbers rather than increasing them as you state you want to do.

Very dissappointed

moogy1a Thu 07-Feb-13 14:05:22

Presume she's gone now.
Completely ignored the overwhelming opinion.
The arrogance is breathtaking.
I have been trying to find a single poster who agrees with her but surprisingly none exists.

dontwanttobefatandforty Thu 07-Feb-13 14:05:31

I feel that was a complete waste of time!

EasilyBored Thu 07-Feb-13 14:05:53

What an utterly pointless exercise that was.

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 14:05:57

vezzie

Hello Ms Truss,

Picking up on a few points you have made today:

- parents pay too much for EY childcare
- childcarers are paid too little
- which is particulary apparent when viewed relative to primary school teachers

Yes, this is because we have a state-funded education system that does not require every parent who would like their child to be literate and numerate to fork out private fees of £20k pa or thereabouts.
Why are you not considering some equivalent - or even partial equivalent, eg significant tax breaks as mentioned by renlo last night at 18.16 ?
Instead, degrading ratios for very young children will degrade care, and everyone knows it.

Secondly - please can you clarify that you are going to listen to non-cherry-picked feedback from childcare professionals and parents? I see no evidence of this so far.

We are looking at funding, first of all how we can make sure that the £5bn the Government's spending at the moment is going to the frontline to make sure there is high qualify, available childcare. Secondly, we are working on new support for working parents to help with their childcare costs. At the moment we do have the most restrictive ratios in Europe, and other countries manage to provide high-quality care that parents are really happy with, and they feel more confident about going to work than parents in this country. I absolutely think that a focus on the qualifications and experience of people working in childcare rather than only the numbers will help widen the offer here. I have seen this working in practice, and we want our childcare system to the the best in the world. I recognised that the professionalism has already increased significantly, but we have to answer the question - how are we going to get up to the level of reward and qualification that other countries have?

vezzie Thu 07-Feb-13 14:06:22

Do you have EY education qualifications, Ms Truss? As you are so keen on qualifications? If not, on what basis are you making all these decisions about structure possibly being good for very young children, if their parents happen to think so? (EY pros do not.)

moonbells Thu 07-Feb-13 14:06:36

Yes but what about childcare vouchers please? And lack of holiday care provision?

KatyMac Thu 07-Feb-13 14:07:41

I think I want to be a childminding agency

I think I'd be really good at it

Those against the bill - 235
Those in favour - 0

Speaks volumes! I'm no longer a childminder but am still passionate about the profession and cant believe how many are leaving because of all the crap that is being thrown at them! And NCMA? All you members should be asking some very serious questions about their part in this......

SouthernPolish Thu 07-Feb-13 14:08:24

Was hoping to feel better by 2 pm - but I'm so angry I'm shaking. Need a lie down.
So - what's next? How do we join the two petitions together and take things further?
Does any other childcare worker feel a bit like a coal miner?!
And Parents: please help!

merrymouse Thu 07-Feb-13 14:08:36

So if these proposals go through a nursery will be able to increase a salary by e.g 13k to 16k (less than 25% increase and even less % increase after tax) by increasing work load from 4 to 6 children (50%). Can see why the nursery might like that assuming they can fit in the extra children. Not so convinced that the nursery worker will be so happy (particularly as he/she is now supposed to be better qualified).

FunnysInLaJardin Thu 07-Feb-13 14:08:36

Very frustrating. All this talk about structured play etc for 3-4 year olds is all very well but totally irelevant to the issue of ratios for under 3's, which I think is the crux of the argument here. Too much talk about what they do in France and at preschool and not enough by way of proper argument to illustrate WHY better educated staff will be able to demand a higher salary in this economic climate and WHY nurseries won't simply pocket the extra cash the change in ratios will generate without passing it on to either their staff or the parents. Nurseries are businesses you know, not charitable organisations.

Plus I don't know of any family which has 4 children under 18 months, which is apparently quite common hmm

vezzie Thu 07-Feb-13 14:08:37

Thanks for answering!

Could you clarify this please:

"We are looking at funding, first of all how we can make sure that the £5bn the Government's spending at the moment is going to the frontline to make sure there is high qualify, available childcare. Secondly, we are working on new support for working parents to help with their childcare costs."

Is there new money coming into childcare, or are you just futzing about trying to make it cheaper by having fewer people on the job?

ElizabethTruss Thu 07-Feb-13 14:09:01

This has been a very helpful discussion from my point of view. I want to take time to read all the posts in my own time. I will listen to feedback and I hope to speak to more parents and people working in childcare over the next few months. The changes that we're looking at are not things that are gong to happen overnight. This is about setting us on a trajectory where early years is viewed as an integral and highly valued part of our education system. I will definitely come back because I love the sandwiches and the crisps. And the Mumsnetters of course!

Best,

Liz

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 07-Feb-13 14:10:15

Well that was an impeccable display of politician at work. Were any of the questions answered properly?

EasilyBored Thu 07-Feb-13 14:10:50

I can't believe MNHQ gave her crisps. Traitors. wink

I have a horrible feeling that we now count as people 'consulted' by Ms Truss, despite the fact she seemed to have her fingers in her ears throughout.

Dawnev Thu 07-Feb-13 14:11:28

I do not believe that the NCMA have told Ms Truss that they are in favour of these reforms and I think that her stating them in her response to who was consulted was in done in such a way as to make her consultation seem adequate whilst not stating if they supported her views.

I hope that NCMA members will not be hoodwinked by the ministers response as the NCMA are actively supportive of the petitions and am sure did not agree with the proposals

RubyrooUK Thu 07-Feb-13 14:11:30

Ms Truss - you didn't answer a single question here with facts. I am embarrassed that a government minister could not even give an accurate figure on the numbers of people consulted for these proposals.

It is also extremely unhelpful to say that it is "up to you" if you use childcare under this new more flexible system of rules. It is hardly much of a choice if you have a full-time job and your childcare provider changes its ratios and you cannot prevent this from happening.

It's the equivalent of saying "well, I'm doing you a favour but even though it's actually negative for you, it's your choice to use this service so that's not my problem".

superkat Thu 07-Feb-13 14:11:49

Wouldn't it be lovely if the members of this 'helpful discussion' were invited to a focus group to discover how to amend these proposals to something which better provides for children and professionals rather than the half baked ideas they have already...

Mseford Thu 07-Feb-13 14:12:02

Hello you said

Essentially, the agencies will be able to receive various streams of funding like the 3 and 4 year old offer, and funding from parents. They're a different way of childminders operating but these agencies are independent of Government.

Surely this is no different then the LA receiveing the funding and it still not reaching the 'frontline'

And if the parents have to fund the agency there will be a higher cost involved then now?

RubyrooUK Thu 07-Feb-13 14:12:08

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

vezzie Thu 07-Feb-13 14:12:31

Thank you Ms Truss

" I will listen to feedback and I hope to speak to more parents and people working in childcare over the next few months. "

How are you selecting them? I am available.

KatyMac Thu 07-Feb-13 14:13:10

Do get in touch with me (mumsnet will give you my email)

I would really love for you to spend a day in my setting, really

The children love visitors and I'm sure it would make a good photo op for you - do come, my setting is really lovely

starlight78 Thu 07-Feb-13 14:14:23

I wish one day someone will come up with 'Mii' style virtual demonstrations online so we could get a visual sense of the amount of people that this government is dissapointing. Not listening to the public will be top on the list.

Second wish is that there should be a 'like' button on here as there were many posters that I agreed with but no way to show this.

What a waste of time.

SouthernPolish Thu 07-Feb-13 14:14:27

Ewww

LilaP Thu 07-Feb-13 14:14:53

ms Truss, im confused.........you have worked in the energy and telecommunications industry for 10 years and are a qualified management accountant.

what is your qaulification if any in childcare?

mindingalongtime Thu 07-Feb-13 14:15:09

underpaid many of us have left NCMA, they are losing members faster than they can recruit hence opening up firstly to nannies and now other early Yeas workers. They care absolutely zilch about childminders and do nothing to retain loyal members. 27 out of 30 of my network have left NCMA in the last 2 years.

They are noticeably absent when their presence is needed and silent when a voice needs to be heard.

moogy1a Thu 07-Feb-13 14:15:16

I'd also love to be consulted as both a parent and a childminder.

merrymouse Thu 07-Feb-13 14:15:59

I can actually think of 2 families where there were 6 under 2's. there were the Waltons and the one on discovery health. (Kate something or other plus 8 or something)

olgaga Thu 07-Feb-13 14:16:42

Well we're none the wiser as to how these proposals will reduce costs, let alone "improve" care.

I suppose that's because none of it adds up.

She's only here trying to defend the indefensible for the sake of Ministerial ambition.

HappySunflower Thu 07-Feb-13 14:17:11

I'm happy o be contacted too, as a parent and Early Years manager.

Bicnod Thu 07-Feb-13 14:17:25

I would be very happy to participate in a focus group discussion on this subject - feel free to PM me Liz.

<waits with baited breath for PM>

SouthernPolish Thu 07-Feb-13 14:18:45

mindingalongtime said: underpaid many of us have left NCMA, they are losing members faster than they can recruit hence opening up firstly to nannies and now other early Yeas workers. They care absolutely zilch about childminders and do nothing to retain loyal members. 27 out of 30 of my network have left NCMA in the last 2 years.
They are noticeably absent when their presence is needed and silent when a voice needs to be heard.

I have recently re-joined and I'm now wondering if I can have my money back. I hope someone from the NCMA is reading this

RubyrooUK Thu 07-Feb-13 14:19:45

Oh boy, I got deleted! My first deletion and I didn't even try to be offensive, I was just quoting something back at Ms Truss!

<dances for joy>

olgaga Thu 07-Feb-13 14:19:57

FWIW this is what the NCMA actually says about the proposals.

vezzie Thu 07-Feb-13 14:20:21

OI MNHQ, you deleted my post - presumably the one that said, "are you stupid?" - that is not a personal attack, it's a question. On that basis you could never try anyone for a crime because it would be considered MEAN to ask the person in the dock if they had done it.

bob567 Thu 07-Feb-13 14:21:40

with regards to the ratio changes being voluntary: childminder A does not want to change her ratios as she believes she can provide the best possible care and learning opportunities as she can with a smaller number of children.

Childminder B increases her ratios and lowers her fees to £2 less an hour than childminder A. Childminder B cannot take the children on outings and cannot provide them with as good a quality of care that she used to as she's unable to meet their individual needs.

Parents need affordable childcare so choose childminder B. Minder A goes out of business as do others in the area so there are less childminders working, the level of local childcare drops and children are developmental at a disadvantage when they start school as their early learning needs haven't been met adequately due to higher ratios.

I think the amount of people that you have consulted in regards to these proposals does not come close to the 40,000 that are telling you that they do not want the changes.

Parents already have a choice of childcare, there are already nurseries that offer a more structured learning environment and ones that offer a child led approach.

FunnysInLaJardin Thu 07-Feb-13 14:22:20

How on earth can it be quantified that other Europeans with higher ratios are happier going to work than in the UK. That's nonsense.

fraktion Thu 07-Feb-13 14:24:30

easilybored she didn't get given biscuits. Bad sign. Besides, you know it's serious when noone asks the biscuit question.

ElizabethTruss I look forward to being consulted. I can send you a list if my qualifications and experience if you like, and my knowledge of the country you seem to hold in such high esteem. My invitation is still open any time you want to come to Normandy.

EasilyBored Thu 07-Feb-13 14:27:22

You just know this is going to be spun into 'well I went on MN and addressed parent's concerns'.

I hope they were rubbish own brand ones, and not posh ones.

TimberTot Thu 07-Feb-13 14:28:00

What an utter farce ! angry

Didn't answer anything in an honest an open manner, just fudged and dissembled and couldn't accept anything put to her that didn't support the plans that are presumably already on the drawing board.

Entirely ignored any awkward questions and seems deaf to the mood of the parents.

Don't forget Liz, we're not just childcare using parents , we are voters !

This shambles is destined to create at least 2 tiered childcare by quality/price, although you're no stranger to that using a nanny when you could be using the House of Commons nursery (couldn't get a nursery place indeed !)

Nursery businesses won't pass on any material savings to parents and less staff will be needed so less employment of people who may not have a string of qualifications but who enjoy spending their day with my dc and make their days fun whilst keeping them safe.

You actually remind me of the webchat with Gordon Brown who failed to engage with any depth and used the oppotunity to big up the Labour Party and its "achievements" whilst knowing all along that they their imprudence had left the cupboards dangerously bare and the UK unable to withstand the effect of the global recession.

Are you thick or wilfully negligent !

Lostonthemoors Thu 07-Feb-13 14:28:08

sad

olgaga Thu 07-Feb-13 14:29:02

bob567 I think most childminders are constrained by space as well as capability and none I know will be looking after more children than they currently do.

Most see the opportunities which will arise from offering a far better service than the pack-em-in nursery down the road.

They certainly won't be charging any less than they currently do. There's still a shortage of childcare places in most areas, and that's what drives the market.

Lostonthemoors Thu 07-Feb-13 14:30:26

And lots of really sensible questions didn't get answered eg Mr Anchovy's was missed out eg

Tensixtysix Thu 07-Feb-13 14:32:16

So over 12 pages and only a very small handful of replies. Says it all really :-(

nicecupotea Thu 07-Feb-13 14:39:10

Don't you think her comment about the sandwiches and crisps was extremely trite? Or was that just me?

SouthernPolish Thu 07-Feb-13 14:43:12

I bet most of those responses were pre-prepared and she just picked the questions they fitted best with. She dodged all the others.

WaitingForPancakeDay Thu 07-Feb-13 14:46:46

My DD is 2.3 and has recently started at her new nursery. Overwhelmingly, what she wants is cuddles whenever she feels like it. Every one that works there remarks that DD shouts HUG! and comes running over. This is not an isolated point as when I viewed the nursery all the children I saw there in that brief visit wanted hugs and cuddles. Every nursery worker was approachable and loved by all. There are loads of child led activities but with structure around it and lots of teaching of the basics like washing up, buttering sandwiches, table manners etc. DD can count to 5 (well she would say 10, but skips 6,7,8 & 9), knows new nursery rhymes, is getting there with colours and is very polite. None of these skills she is learning requires a genius to teach, but someone loving, with patience who is flexible to a child's needs and, most importantly, fosters a home from home environment that the child is comfortable in.

I loathe the idea of my DD competing for attention due to increased ratios. However, what I find the most terrifying is the idea of my little DD being 1 of 6 toddlers being led out of the burning building by 1 nursery worker. 1 of 6 children at risk of not being noticed silently choking, 1 of 6 children at risk of being harmed by another child because the nursery worker had his/her hands full while my child was being bitten, 1 of 6 children.

1 of 6. Thats bananas and makes me massively uncomfortable. No qualification in the world makes you better at looking after 6 toddlers.

I have always voted Conservative. I know that the Coalition Government cannot always conform to the individual election manifestos of 2010, but where possible, they should stick to introducing the changes that got them voted in and stop fiddling about with the lives of tiny children.

Februaryfun Thu 07-Feb-13 14:47:10

Getting ms truss to LISTEN, like banging your head against a brick wall angry

SouthernPolish Thu 07-Feb-13 14:49:42

olgagaThu 07-Feb-13 14:19:57
FWIW this is what the NCMA actually says about the proposals.

Liz Truss: please note vote at bottom of page - speaks volumes!

Dawnev Thu 07-Feb-13 14:53:07

Having informed the NCMA of Ms Truss's comments regarding who she consulted and her decision not to publicly clarify if they had supported or not supported her proposals, I am hoping they will be publishing a statement later today for members.

In the current vote on whether members believe the agency model is a good or bad idea the overwhelming response is that it is a bad one. I hope this information is passed on to Ms Truss as a reflection of child minders feelings regarding agencies.

SouthernPolish Thu 07-Feb-13 15:04:40

Dawnev - I emailed NCMA and look forward to reading response later.

SouthernPolish Thu 07-Feb-13 15:07:53

The only scrap of hope I have obtained by being involved in this webchat is that nobody actually agreed with her.

Thank you Mumsnet Towers for arranging this and bringing it to more peoples attention.

PLEASE PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION/S, SHARE & TWEET THEM!

FunnysInLaJardin Thu 07-Feb-13 15:09:47

yes nice very trite. Not to mention a whole web caht full of buzz words and very little actual content. So much of it was glib nonsense that I couldn't begim to C&P it all into one post.

jellybeans Thu 07-Feb-13 15:11:15

From the document. 'Childcare is vital to ensuring we can compete in the global race.' I think this says it all! It's all about competing and the economy and not about children's welfare at all. Encouraging schools to take on much younger children?! Using phrases such as 'early education' doesn't disguise the fact that this is purely about childcare while parents work. I am a happy SAHM and happy to be one thank you very much. There are many like me who will not go back to work purely because we are 'encouraged to' by you or the government. And higher ratios will do nothing to tempt us back, if anything they put us off...

Floweryhat Thu 07-Feb-13 15:16:13

MNHQ -be sure to send her private secretary a full copy of the original thread about the proposals.

I know we could expect no difference, but reading this has practically reduced me to tears.

Parents where I live already have little 'choice' over childcare, as settings are full to bursting. Businesses (for that is what private nurseries are) will leap on this opportunity to take more children for less staff. Quality will decline. Parents will have no choice whatsoever if no businesses choose to keep to the current ratios -and why would they?! Even if any do, they will charge through the roof for it, as places will be so sought after.

I agree it will widen inequalities, as those with less money will have even less choice (less able to travel to better childcare, needing to take-up cheapest options).

I am angered. Actually angered. Did you hear me, I'm angry angry that ANYONE thinks a "well qualified" person can give four babes in arms sufficient attention, or two toddlers. Looking after 6x 2 years olds is just crowd control. I foresee a LOT of miserable under 3s sad

Don't you dare go back and say you've consulted 200+ people on Mumsnet, when to a woman all agree with your distasteful, poorly-thought through, potentially damaging proposals to create baby farms.

It is utterly vile.

jellybeans Thu 07-Feb-13 15:18:20

I remember when my twins were babies/toddlers it was a real nightmare going to the park etc as they would run in different directions, I had 2 other young children also-one a lively toddler. Can't imagine 6!

PetiteRaleuse Thu 07-Feb-13 15:19:23

She's not taking into consideration cultural issues. I happen to like the way nurseries in France are managed, but I am aware that they would not necessarily suit what British parents have come to expect from childcare. Which is fine, but goes to show that what works in one country might not work in another. I also have very little faith in this government being able to pull off a move towards more continental nursery styles - there is a lot of good which could be done from learning from our neighbours - and vice versa- but this is a government which has proven again and again that those who need help the most are not taken into consideration, and that costcutting will be made at every opportunity. The children's needs will not betaken into consideration by them, and neither will the parents or the workers.

Did she answer the questions about her own childcare arrangements?

FunnysInLaJardin Thu 07-Feb-13 15:22:42

hear hear Flowery

NCMA Thu 07-Feb-13 15:47:46

'I hope to speak to more parents and people working in childcare over the next few months'

Oh FFS! These are proposals which will materially affect the lives of many, many working parents, care providers and children. REAL LIVES, REAL PEOPLE. Don't you think the Minister concerned should be doing a bit more than 'hoping' to speak to more parents etc. There are 300 posts on this thread and the only ones agreeing with Liz are her own. This webchat is yet another embarassing example of exactly how distanced the Tory government are from the people they are supposed to be serving.

Anybody fancy counting how many questions she didn't answer? I know she didn't answer anything about childcare vouchers - either at 3 yrs old or by salary sacrifice. One assumes that's because Dave hasn't told her what to think on that yet. I know she didn't answer the challenges about her own childcare choice either. I wouldn't expect her to answer that except that it's already in the public domain and she bought her experience as a parent in to this debate. Shabby therefore not to respond to challenges on that point.

Mumsnet HQ - can you get somebody in from Labour now to see if they can do a better job?

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 07-Feb-13 16:31:28

vezzie

OI MNHQ, you deleted my post - presumably the one that said, "are you stupid?" - that is not a personal attack, it's a question. On that basis you could never try anyone for a crime because it would be considered MEAN to ask the person in the dock if they had done it.

Yes we did delete it Vezzie, not so much for being a personal attack but for rudeness - see our webchat guidelines (specifically number 4) re "be polite".
Thanks

Dawnev Thu 07-Feb-13 16:38:05

I too would like to see Stephen Twigg come on and put across the labour party view on the proposals and answer some of the many questions Ms Truss so obviously avoided.

I would also like to see Mr Twigg agree to come and visit some of the strong network clusters of child minders, nurseries with more concern for child welfare than profit and (most importantly) parents who will be the biggest losers of these proposals with a choice between increasing costs or poorer quality care, and for some parents there wont be a choice!

chazzy2008 Thu 07-Feb-13 16:47:02

so if I'm reading it roght the NCMA are NOT in favour of the proposals??? so Ms Truss misled us today when she said she had consulted with them...what she actually did was consult them then ignored their views (and those of the majority of their members)

blondieminx Thu 07-Feb-13 16:50:51

Reading the responses from Ms Truss is SO disappointing and heartbreaking.

I note that she hasn't accepted any offers to go and look after 6 under 2's and is attempting to gloss over the safety point.

Think we should organise peaceful buggy protests at Westminster / outside all MP's offices till this ridiculous idea is dropped - who's with me? grin

FunnysInLaJardin Thu 07-Feb-13 16:52:11

I would hazard a guess that provided she asks the question then no matter what the answer it counts as 'consultation'

I like your suggestion Dawnev. A head-to-head, Liz Truss and Stephen Twigg in a nursery (I can see great reality TV opportunities here). Seriously, very sad that we're not able to see the benefits of quantity and quality. Strength of feeling here speaks volumes.

superkat Thu 07-Feb-13 17:02:40

blondieminx outside Westminster with all that traffic? You'll need a risk assessment....

TiggyD Thu 07-Feb-13 17:11:41

Consultation - When you ask thousands of people's opinions on a project of yours and then ignore them when they say your project is terrible.

Lostonthemoors Thu 07-Feb-13 17:11:45

I think what happened on this webchat is a bit like when Tony Blair was slow hand clapped by the WI.

How wonderful to be a politician and have so little self doubt sad

neolara Thu 07-Feb-13 17:12:09

I asked the following questions " In developing your proposals for increasing ratios for children aged 2 and under, what consideration has been given to (the widely accepted) views on the importance of developing sound attachments with responsive care-givers? Whose advice have you sought and what did they say? Is their advice consistent with others involved in child development (e.g. developmental psychologists)? How realistic do you think it is that a carer (even one with GCSEs in maths and English) will be able to provide responsive care to 4 babies under the age of 1 or six 2 year olds?"

She answered "I'm very aware of the research on attachment, and to be clear on babies, we would only allow nurseries to operate on the extended ratio if they were taking on somebody who was really experienced and expert. The evidence from studies like EPPE, and from the OECD's Starting Strong work, that having graduates in settings, even for babies, has a positive impact on children's outcomes."

From what I can see the EPPE is a study of children aged 3 to 7, so not relevant to the discussion on babies aged 2 and under. Anyone got any details about OECD's Starting Strong research and whether that actually looks at attachment outcomes for babies? Additionally, the gov is not talking about getting graduates into baby rooms. It's planning to get kids with GCSE in English and Maths in there.

If there is a genuine discussion to be had about attachment and ratios, let's have one. I'm sure many child development specialists would be delighted to join in. Don't try and confuse the issue by quoting research that irrelevant. Shocking.

I wonder if the researchers at the Institute of Education who participated in the EPPE program are aware that their research is being used to support the proposed changes in the ratios for 2s and under. Anyone here work for IOE and would like to bring that to their attention?

Lostonthemoors Thu 07-Feb-13 17:12:36

Tiggy, not thousands but lots and lots

fraktion Thu 07-Feb-13 17:47:31

Go on then blondie. Lets have a protest. When's half term for London, just so she can get the full effect of how many children:adults and invite nurseries along on their current ratio....

HandbagCrab Thu 07-Feb-13 18:01:17

Can't believe Liz had a nanny when she just said repeatedly that a childcarer on £16k looking after 6 toddlers would provide such amazing quality childcare that Britain would be the envy of the modern world.

Yet she disadvantaged her own children by having them looked after on their own by a childcarer paid significantly more! These mps, more money than sense by the looks of things.

stormforce10 Thu 07-Feb-13 18:02:27

I'm sorry I missed the webchat. I was dealing with the individual needs of my teething, screaming, miserable, hungry and hurting DS. I'm only glad that I did not have 3 others to look after.

A couple of things stand out to me.

1. The minister appears to have a worrying grasp of biology. In her post at 13.18 she suggests many families have 4 children in the under 2 age group. Unless they had 2 sets of twins, triplets and a single or quads I suggest that this would be physically impossible as pregnancy takes 9 months. I certainly don't know any familes that fit this criteria. A little worrying that our education minister has trouble multiplying 9 by 4 hmm

2. If parents have to pay for the agencies how will this cut costs? Are the agencies effectively just going to be a new and rather expensive quango type organisation. I'm a little unclear as to their function or their funding.

3. There does not seem to anything in the new plans to ensure that nurseries won't simply up their ratios but not decrease their fees. I am really concerned that this could open the door to a whole new low quality group of nurseries without any savings to parents. Alternatively nurseries may decrease their fees but they are not supermarkets do we really want a pack it high sell it cheap brand of child care?

slightlysoupstainedbabygrows Thu 07-Feb-13 18:38:55

Think WaitingForPancakeDay sums it up:
"I loathe the idea of my DD competing for attention due to increased ratios. However, what I find the most terrifying is the idea of my little DD being 1 of 6 toddlers being led out of the burning building by 1 nursery worker. 1 of 6 children at risk of not being noticed silently choking, 1 of 6 children at risk of being harmed by another child because the nursery worker had his/her hands full while my child was being bitten, 1 of 6 children.

1 of 6. Thats bananas and makes me massively uncomfortable. No qualification in the world makes you better at looking after 6 toddlers. "

It's a no-brainer isn't it? Which would you pick: your 9 month old baby can be ignored by a graduate, or he/she can be cuddled by a non-graduate?

We could decide every childcare worker needs a degree, a PhD, a Nobel bleeding prize, and it still wouldn't make them able to bend space and time to give a baby more 1:1 attention than someone looking after fewer babies.

She repeatedly ignored suggestions that nurseries won't pass on the benefit in the shape of reduced fees. They plainly have no notion of ensuring that - and why would they? It's a Tory government. They love business screwing as much out of people as they can.

Floweryhat Thu 07-Feb-13 19:03:12

Please can someone point me in the direction of someone who is experienced and expert at forming high-quality attachments with 4 children aged under 1 simultaneously, whilst meeting all their physical needs?

Also, please can someone provide a link to the qualification that someone needs to obtain to enable them to do this?

<when I say someone, I guess I mean the Minister>

I still do to understand how little tiny children will get enough cuddles with the proposed ratio changes sad. I think it's hard enough to achieve with 3 babies under one to one adult...

Doobydoo Thu 07-Feb-13 19:04:24

Crikey..that was a disappointing thread.Feel v cross and sad.Nursing decided to go for degree level etc...excluded many of the empathetic caring people that could be great nurses.Agree nursery workers should be paid more but all this looks like a recipe for disaster.

eviekingston Thu 07-Feb-13 19:05:07

Reading through this makes me want to cry. I've just got back from a ten hour day teaching 4 and 5 year olds and I'm on my knees. I've got a couple of degrees and compared to all the childminders out there I'm very well paid, but does that help me on a day to day basis manage the needs of 30 children? Of course it bloody doesn't. Small children need lots of adults, and that's all there is to it. Thanks for not listening Ms Truss.

merrymouse Thu 07-Feb-13 19:12:20

Well I'm just baffled. I'm a qualified management accountant too, but I can't for the life of me do the sums that enable a childcare worker to manage 6 toilet training children and not spend all day in the loo, purely by dint of her superior qualifications.

Well at least the children will be familiar with the number 2.

merrymouse Thu 07-Feb-13 19:19:49

If they had to make a u turn on their e bac qualification or whatever it was, because the majority of mp's and all advisors were against it, can they push this through?

PolkadotCircus Thu 07-Feb-13 19:24:54

Storm I had 3 under 15 months-it was bloody difficult and I spent countless hours feeling gutted at what they missed out on compared to other toddlers.

I was a primary teacher with a degree in early years and literacy pre children.

Lostonthemoors Thu 07-Feb-13 19:28:19

And now at over 300 messages and not one person who agrees with the proposals.

What will it take to make David Cameron pull this?

Floweryhat Thu 07-Feb-13 19:44:07

Get someone on news night to ask Cameron one obvious question repeatedly. It would be v uncomfortable.

E.g exactly how does one person simultaneously adequately care for four babies under 1?

Ignor all bullshit answers and repeat like broken record. Neither he nor Mrs Truss will be able to answer it, because there is no good answer.

PolkadotCircus Thu 07-Feb-13 19:48:44

Whilst somebody is doing that could they ask why wealthy couples on 100k get to keep their CB whilst families with a SAHP on half that lose it-over and over again on a loop.It's another question they repeatedly choose to ignore answering.

pollyblue Thu 07-Feb-13 20:18:32

I saw Stephen Twigg and Liz Truss go head-to-head about this on BBC Breakfast news a week or two back.
She was as doggedly fixated on her plans then as she is now, and didn't really answer his questions properly, either.....
He is in favour of more qualifications/better pay, and very opposed to any increase in ratios.

FunnysInLaJardin Thu 07-Feb-13 20:54:09

it's like a skit from In The Thick Of It. I can just imagine her back at Westminster as we speak. Ole Dave got her to do this as she's a woman and has kids innit and she had no option but to go along with it. That much is clear follwong this web chat. I am very unconvinced that she actually cares in or believes about this policy at all

FunnysInLaJardin Thu 07-Feb-13 20:54:53

oops cares about or believes in

merrymouse Thu 07-Feb-13 21:11:10

Agree jardin. Feel a bit sorry for her in a way.

Still, atleast she is a bit more well known now and people are less likely to confuse her with Lynne Truss the grammar lady.

merrymouse Thu 07-Feb-13 21:12:07

(Because I was confused about that at the beginning of the week)

phyliszaltman9 Thu 07-Feb-13 21:16:49

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

phyliszaltman9 Thu 07-Feb-13 21:24:51

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

Limelight Thu 07-Feb-13 22:13:54

Just read through the thread. Wow. Don't know why she bothered turning up frankly.

Just a reflection. There's a couple of posts here about how she's just a mouthpiece for the party leadership. She's a woman, put in to put a 'suitable' face on TV. I'm not sure that's true tbh. From everything I've read in the media and from the thread today, I think she's a proper conviction politician. It does her a disservice to suggest that these aren't her ideas and her beliefs.

I mean don't get me wrong, she's barking, and I'm sure she has the support of Cameron etc, but it feels to me as if she actually believes the shit she's spouting.

FunnysInLaJardin Thu 07-Feb-13 22:25:48

well Lime if she really does believe all the shit she is spouting then more fool her!

Good grief.
She didn't say much did she? Is she a two-finger typer? Was she consulting with someone on the answers? Were MNers just a bit too clever for her?

Floweryhat Thu 07-Feb-13 22:46:20

This is how one journalist got on with some 2 year olds (though she cheated and one was in fact three. For a really thorough test of the minimum standard they should all have just turned two and either be in nappies or mid potty training. She admits she ignored two of them.

Presumably no-one has tried four under 1s, because, well that would just be stupid, possibly dangerous and mean (because they would cry a lot, not get their nappies changed enough and not get enough smiles, cuddles etc).

BoffinMum Fri 08-Feb-13 06:19:03

I wonder if I am the only person on MN who has cared for 8 x 2.5 to 3 year olds at once, as a nursery nurse.

1. We used the Montessori system.
2. There were three adults in the room - a Montessori specialist, a Norland graduate, and me (a music graduate).
3. We had most of them for three hour sessions. Some stayed for lunch and did another three hours.
4. The kids seemed to do pretty well.
5. We even took them swimming.

But -

1. No naps, and all in one room.
2. Only calm children applied to join the nursery. Lively boys were tacitly discouraged on their trial days.
3. They all went home at 3.30.
4. It was in Wandsworth and part of the original Tory pilot voucher scheme. It cost £800 a term (mornings) and parents got a nursery voucher for £1100 for four terms.
5. I was on £7500 a year for five mornings in the nursery and two afternoons teaching music to older kids, plus doing staff sickness cover as required. The teacher pay scale started at about £14000 at the time for people with a good degree. I was really broke.

This model does not translate across to daycare nurseries at all, in my opinion. For a start, there are not enough qualified staff. Secondly, it only suits quiet middle class kids. And finally, women still end up working for peanuts in this system (it was 1991 by the way, mid recession, and the only permanent job I could find).

NuzzleMyScratch Fri 08-Feb-13 07:46:00

Can anyone get to any Any Questions broadcasts in the next few weeks?

Lostonthemoors Fri 08-Feb-13 08:01:37

Good point, Nuzzle. Anyone in Somerset, Gloucester or Bradford and fancy going along to ask the question about this crackers proposal?

ssd Fri 08-Feb-13 09:21:08

WOW!! power corrupts, doesn't it........

A whole mass of worried, anxious parents and childcare workers V a politician who feels she only needs to address questions in her remit and ignore the worry going on:

this is a prime example

OptimisticPessimist
"I think the ratio issue has been well covered already (and it thankfully won't affect us here in Scotland) so I'd like to ask a different childcare related question.

If your Government is so committed to helping working families afford childcare, then why in its very first budget did it cut the childcare element of working tax credits from 80% to 70%? This was a change that cost parents of two or more children £30 a week, which is a massive amount for those on low incomes. It had a massive impact on me as a lone parent, and I ended up resigning and now claim income support. The childcare element puts money into the economy by contributing to the employment and income of childcare workers, so what reason did your Government have for cutting this benefit?"

Liz Truss
"I would like to point out that the ratios in Scotland (and Ireland) are higher. Ratios in Scotland for 2 year olds are 1:5, and in Ireland are 1:6."

Yes, that's it folks, I almost burst out laughing after that one!!

I wonder why politicians feel they can dictate to a group of people they have no empathy with? Liz Truss clearly has no childcare/early years experience, barring the fact she is a mother with a nanny. She has spoken to "lots and lots" of people about these changes....I have spoken to "lots and lots" of my childrens' teachers, does this mean I can walk into school on Monday and tell them what to do.......it seems to be plausible to do that , if I'm a politician.

Scary stuff.

Reminds me very much of this idiot person in the news who made his wife take his speeding points, it took him 10 years to admit he was lying but he still made it sound like he was always doing the right thing, whilst his own son's upsetting texts reveal what he thinks of his dad.

How do these people become so patronising and blinkered? I can imagine its a cross party thing, although the conservatives do seem to have a plethora of these types.

And the people who will no doubt suffer in all this are our kids, the ones put into childcare settings with these new ratios, who go without the proper care they'd have received before.

That's IF the childcare provider ups their numbers, don't forget Liz Truss is giving them the choice..... and if they take it, its not her fault, now.

So Mr. Nursery owner, would you like things to stay the same or would you like to increase revenue by allowing, legally and above board, more children through your doors???

Its obvious where this will all go. And benefit claimants, don't say you cant work as you have no childcare, there's a nursery down the road fit to bursting which always has places for your kids, no worries there hmm.

Utterly utterly depressing.

Lostonthemoors Fri 08-Feb-13 09:39:41

It was MN as Paxman, ssd grin We just keep asking the same question and she kept not answering. At least we now know there is absolutely no well thought out reasoning behind the policy - it is just as daft as it looks sad

I imagine she may secretly recognise it would mean less than ideal childcare for the really tiny ones - no child of hers has entered a nursery apparently. But maybe they are focussing on really deprived families and thinking this may still be better than the environment at home? If so, this is very questionable.

I notice the only reply about the difficulties of the new ratios related to safety being achieved through leadership and she kept referring to structured group activities - would love to see that tried by one adult to 4 kids under 1!

I think a lot of Tories (and I say this as a Tory voter) are unable to identify with real parents placing children in nursery as they and their friends all use nannies. It is the same with state schools - often they will know no one who has set foot in one.

I wonder if Cameron has been lobbied by the companies/entrepreneurs behind the large nursery chains?

FunnysInLaJardin Fri 08-Feb-13 09:47:07

Lost I have to say that the thought that perhaps someone influential owns shares in a nursery chain did cross my mind. But the tories would never be that cynical would they?

catsmother Fri 08-Feb-13 09:58:53

This so-called Q&A session was a farce. Just like these proposals.

I can't believe one poster had her comments deleted because she was being "rude". (I think she may have asked this MP if she was "stupid"). Well, in my book, pointedly ignoring perfectly sensible and valid questions over and over again is both stupid and rude. Contemptuous in fact.

ssd Fri 08-Feb-13 09:59:08

lost, I dont believe for one second this is being done to focus on really deprived families, most kids at nursery and at a childminder are there as the parents are at work, earning enough to cover childcare fee's, really deprived families arent in this position at all.

Lostonthemoors Fri 08-Feb-13 10:15:43

Don't really deprived families get free hours for their 2 year olds now?