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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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh I wish!

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

Easily exactly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TwelveLeggedWalk Tue 29-Jan-13 10:57:41

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tittybangbang Tue 29-Jan-13 11:02:29

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

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

You can find the petition here .

NorthernLurker Tue 29-Jan-13 11:13:59

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

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

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

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


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


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

YRNBU This seriously worries me.

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

* YANBU..silly phone!

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

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

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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