Changes to nursery and childminder staff ratios

Children playing in nursery

Mumsnet backs campaign against childcare ratio changes

UPDATE: Nick Clegg announced in May 2013 that he would block these plans: you can see more in our Talk thread here.

 

Mumsnet is backing the Pre-School Learning Alliance's campaign Rewind on Ratios, which calls on the Government to scrap its plans on childcare ratios changes, and to undertake a full consultation with practitioners and parents on future proposals.

 

Justine Roberts, Mumsnet Founder and CEO, said:

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

Opposition on Mumsnet

When Education and Childcare Minister Liz Truss came onto Mumsnet to discuss the Government's changes to childcare ratios, Mumsnetters were quick to voice their opposition. In a webchat that ran to 407 posts, parents, voters and childcare workers alike spoke out unanimously and forcefully against increases to childcare ratios. 

The Government's proposals also sparked many discussions on Mumsnet's talk boards, with a vast majority of Mumsnet users opposed to the planned changes. Members linked to petitions protesting the changes, and called on Mumsnet to publicly back the Rewind the Ratios campaign. 

A recent Mumsnet survey also found that only 5% of those polled would support increased ratios, even if they meant that the cost of childcare would fall.

Rewind on Ratios

The Rewind on Ratios campaign is led by the Pre-school Learning Alliance, the largest early years learning membership organisation in England. The campaign is backed by a number of organisations, including Asquith Nurseries, the country’s third-largest day nursery group; Norland College, the world’s premier training college for nannies; and Voice, a trade union for teachers, support staff, nursery nurses and nannies. In addition, more than 26,000 parents have backed the campaign (last updated 1 May 2013), signing the official Government petition and the Alliance's paper petition.

The Pre-school Learning Alliance Chief Executive Neil Leitch said:

“We are delighted that Mumsnet is supporting our campaign against ratio changes. As the UK’s largest network for parents, Mumsnet is a truly representative voice for the parents of this country. We at the Alliance believe that parents are their children’s first and most important educators, and so it is vital that their views are heard on this crucial issue."

Proposed changes

The government wants to introduce changes to childcare ratios in England which, it says, will cut costs for parents and raise pre-school childcare standards.

Children's minister Liz Truss is proposing that:

  • Childminders can look after four children aged between one and five, instead of the current limit of three children
  • Childminders can look after two children aged under one - they are currently restricted to one child under one
  • Nurseries with suitably qualified staff will have the option to increase the staff-to-child ratio (for two-year-old children) from the current 1:4 to 1:6.
  • The ratio of nursery staff looking after children aged under two will rise from 1:3 to 1:4 (depending on suitably qualified staff and at the provider's discretion) 
  • There will be no changes to the current EYFS policy regarding ratios for children aged 3+
  • New nursery staff completing a new Early Years Educators course will be expected to have a grade C in English and Maths (E&M) GCSE
  • A graduate-level early years teaching qualification will be introduced
  • Nursery staff-to-child ratios will rise further if a qualified teacher is present

 

The government says its proposals will still mean that England will have smaller childcare ratios than in France, Germany and Denmark.

Labour disputes the government's claim that the changes will cut parents' childcare costs and says the increased ratios will undermine the quality of childcare.

 

Last updated: 19-Dec-2013 at 4:00 PM