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To think change in childcare ratios will lower childcare standards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morning all,

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

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

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

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

The ratios will change as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's what happens in Denmark.

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

Childminders usually have 4 to look after.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TravelinColour Tue 29-Jan-13 09:52:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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