Advanced search

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?

Tanith Thu 06-Jun-13 10:12:05

Just the ratios, moogy.

Welcome, yes - I'm delighted that they've finally seen sense on that.

Not so delighted that they are still going for childminder agencies that will increase costs for parents.

I think Liz Truss is now thoroughly discredited, though. She has visited a handful of settings, most of them abroad, and she hasn't bothered to visit a single childminder.
I think they need to scrap her proposals entirely and get someone to do her job properly.

moogy1a Thu 06-Jun-13 07:57:11

thank god for that. They've realised it's a very bad idea and won't be going ahead.
Who wants to email Truss and thank her for her valuable input?

BarbiesBeaver Thu 16-May-13 09:56:31

Bumping so that more can sign the petitions.

Tanith Thu 09-May-13 14:06:40

I'm relieved that it looks as though the ratios change is to be reviewed.
What causes me even greater concern is the proposal for childminder agencies.

None of Liz Truss's proposals will lower costs for parents. They will simply make it easier for Ofsted and the Government. Ofsted are currently years behind with their childminder inspections - how lovely to be able to write off your shortcomings with Government approval hmm

I personally think Ofsted has no place in ANY Early Years setting. We need and deserve a regulating body that understands our sector, not a huge, cumbersome monster organisation that relies far too much on paperwork and strict adherence to centralised procedure for it's own benefit.

Liz Truss never bothered to find out the real reasons for childcare costs, so how could she ever hope to address them?

moogy1a Thu 09-May-13 09:50:00

Looks like we might be onto a winner re the changes

dippymother Sat 04-May-13 18:39:53

Well said insancerre!

I worked in a private pre-school for many years and decided to leave because actually looking after the children seemed to become secondary to all the other responsibilities we were expected to do.

I have a foundation degree in childcare (course paid for by me), however, earning less money per hour than a cleaner is not exactly encouraging. Also, we were only paid for the session times, i.e. two sessions per day = 5 hours pay, but we came in nearly an hour early and left an hour late to set up/put away (setting was in a community centre used by others), not to mention writing up observations/reports, planning and shopping etc in our own time, for which we were also not paid.

We were strict about the ratios, however, the manager was included in the ratios but rarely left her desk to help out with the children, even when a crisis occurred (which was frequent).

MrsJamin Sat 04-May-13 17:46:54

ChildrensStoriesNet you clearly have not read the recommendations from the government- we are not talking about 6 children of different ages- but 6 2 yr olds! Most of which would be in nappies or potty training, would need assistance eating and putting clothes on and off. A mother with 6 2 yr olds would employ assistance and not be doing it alone!

insancerre Sat 04-May-13 11:27:44

If a mum can do a good job with 6, with all her other responsibilities, why can't child care that obviously does not have the other responsibilities, thus has more time than a mum would have (per child)?

You have never worked in a nursery then?
If only all we had to do was to actually look after the children.
My day usually involves a fair amount of paperwork, writing observations, taking photos, planning children's next steps, updating children's files. Not to mention all the other forms, like accident forms, medicine forms, daily risk assessments, writing in children's diaries, filling in cleaning rotas.
And that's before I even do any cleaning- there's the usual tidying up after the children as well as planning and preparing activities, making playdough, mixing paint, cleanig toys on the cleaning rota.
Then there are snacks to shop for and prepare and wash up afterwards, temperature charts to fill in for the frudge, nappies to change and to record for the parents.
We often have students on placements and they come with a whole raft of paperwork that needs filling in on a daily basis.
We don't have a cleaner so we have to mop, sweep and vacuum everyday too.

How is that not having any other responsibilities?

ChildrensStoriesNet Sat 04-May-13 11:13:11

Of course 1:4 is better than 1:6, but are we saying mums with more than four kids can't cope properly?

I'm personally happy with 1:4 as it means in theory better care, but I can also see the related issues which may not be being thought about.

If a mum can do a good job with 6, with all her other responsibilities, why can't child care that obviously does not have the other responsibilities, thus has more time than a mum would have (per child)?

As other posters have pointed out, having small ratios (1:4) means higher child care costs, which shuts out many mums from child care.

Perhaps the solution is for child care to have the freedom to offer their care ratios and parents can choose which to go to. Perhaps it should be compulsory for child care to publish a clear notice saying what their ratios are.

Win, Win?

MrsJamin Thu 02-May-13 18:28:28

Thanks MN this is really helpful- am meeting my MP soon and this is all v useful information to swot up on so I can prove my point that the childcare ratios are a v bad idea.

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 28-Apr-13 19:49:51


Mumsnetters gave Education & Childcare Minister Liz Truss quite a grilling when she came in for a webchat to discuss the Government’s changes to childcare ratios. Of the 407 posts, the Minister’s voice in support of the plans was singular – parents, voters and childcare workers spoke out in force and unanimously against increases to childcare ratios. The message we received was clear: there is precious little support on Mumsnet for this policy.

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

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

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

Osaka1981 Thu 28-Feb-13 09:22:22

For those that might be interested, an official government e-petition has just been launched for parents against these ratio changes.

Although there are quite a few petitions out there, this is the only one which government has to officially respond to and can't ignore (as they seem to have ignored all the others). When the petition receives 10,000 signatures, government must provide an official response. 100,000 signatures and the topic will be considered for discussion in the House of Commons.

corinne27 Fri 08-Feb-13 01:24:59

I think this idea of increasing the ratio of children to adults is totally mad. It will not increase wages for staff or lessen charges for parents. However it will put more money in private nurseries pockets. What is the goverment thinking??????

olgaga Thu 07-Feb-13 12:26:15

I think it will make absolutely no difference to capacity, as most childcare settings - including childminders - are working at full capacity anyway in terms of their physical premises (something that everyone seems to have ignored).

I don't see how on earth these proposals will have the effect that the government hopes - ie reducing the cost of childcare.

There's only one way to reduce the cost of childcare to parents and that is to increase subsidy either directly to childcare providers, or through tax allowances to working parents.

Anything else is just smoke and mirrors.

blueberryupsidedown Thu 07-Feb-13 09:46:45

OK just to be pedantic here, but you would not as a childminder be able to look after six two-year-olds; the maximum will be four, of which two can be under the age of two.

olgaga Thu 07-Feb-13 08:03:17

Well said Chestnut.

My friend is an Ofsted childminder. Like you she is well qualified, and gave up her career to be at home for her own three children. She will not look after more than two 2-4yo and one under 1yo together, which she does three days a week.

On the days she has those three altogether she never stops. It's a 10 hour marathon of nappies, potties and toilet training. Many childminders also have their own young children, as my friend does, and they must leave the house to do the school run whatever the weather. To do that on the days she has those three she has to manage a triple buggy, a mile each way. It's not for the fainthearted.

Doing that with more children that age would be impossible.

She certainly won't be charging less for what she does. As for the "expense" of childcare - as I pointed out upthread, in this area it costs more to have your dog walked and looked after than it does to park your child with a childminder.

ChestnutMum Wed 06-Feb-13 22:26:53


I just wanted to add my voice to this thread, in the hope the Liz Truss might read the posts and take note of them.

I am pleased that she is trying to help working parents with childcare costs; I am one of the mums who has dropped out of the workforce in part because the cost of childcare for my two children would wipe out my salary.

However, there was another reason why I left my job: after trying life as a working mum, it didn't suit me, as I missed my children and they missed me. In the end, I decided to look after my children myself. I wanted to give my children the best possible start in life, and it suited our family for me to stay at home while they are young.

I think that Liz Truss is assuming that childcare costs are the only reason why mums are not working. She is not taking into account that many mothers, like me, actually want to spend time bringing up their own children. They want their children to experience the best start in life, and are willing to "pay the price" of that by giving up a salary and, possibly, a career.

Most of my friends who are working are also willing to pay the price of giving their children the best start in life, by giving them the best childcare they can, even if they have to pay high nursery fees. No-one likes paying such high costs, but the people I know would rather pay them and know that their child is having a great time, with lots of adult support, than think that they are being neglected and their needs not being met.

Because, honestly, with the ratios that Liz Truss is suggesting, there is really no possibility that such young children's needs can be adequately met. I am possibly the sort of person she might like to recruit as a childcare worker - as well as GCSEs, I have A Levels, a degree, a masters and a PhD. I have lots of experience with children. I even looked into child minding so I know what it involves. But I could not meet the needs of six two-year-olds. It would be irresponsible and unsafe to try to, whether in a nursery setting or in my own home. And I certainly could not meet all of Ofsted's requirements, for healthy food, outdoor play, and a following of the Early Years Curriculum. Any number of childcare qualifications do not change the fact that young children need a lot of adult attention. One adult to six young children is not enough.

I know that childcare costs are high, and I do appreciate that Liz Truss is beginning a debate about how to bring those costs down. But changing the ratio of adults to children is not the answer, I'm afraid. Can we perhaps have a mumsnet debate about other ways of bringing down the cost of childcare instead?

OhGood Wed 06-Feb-13 13:26:02

This would increase the cost of my childcare. My CM would keep the same ratio of toddlers but charge me more to provide the better service.

I don't believe it's possible to provide proper care at the new ratios. So if I can't afford my CM's new rates, and can't find someone else who has realistic ratios, I will have to leave my job to look after my children myself.

That will do a lot of damage to my prospects of contributing to this country as a taxpayer. How much will that cost?

olgaga Tue 05-Feb-13 23:06:46

I know it is the same total number of children - I can count too. It is the increased number of younger children which is the issue which causes concern.

Most childminders look after pre-school children most of the time. As Liz Bayram says, "young children rightly demand high levels of individual attention and care to thrive".

If there's nothing to be concerned about, why do you think the NCMA is concerned?

blueberryupsidedown Tue 05-Feb-13 21:06:50

The total number of children childminders can look after does not change. It is 6 children under the age of 8. The difference is that childminders will be able to look a maximum of 4 young children (until 1st September following their 5th birthday), of which two can be under the age of one. Whereas now, it is a maximum of six children under the age of 8, of these a maximum of three young children (until 1st September following their 5th birthday), and a maximum of one child under 1 year old.

The proposal does not affect the total number of children a childminder can look after. It's in the report, p. 33. I am not making this up, it's a fact.

olgaga Tue 05-Feb-13 19:56:23

She went on to say:

‘However, increasing the number of under fives a childminder can care for at one time to four and including two babies under 12 months rather than one, can only be justified if systems are put in place to support childminders to make the quality judgements needed to ensure each child in their care still receives a high quality experience,' she said.

‘The plan does not seem to link this change to individual childminders holding higher Ofsted gradings, minimum qualifications nor the new Early Years Educator role. We know many of our members' do not use their full ratio level at present, because such young children rightly demand high levels of individual attention and care to thrive.’

blueberryupsidedown Tue 05-Feb-13 16:48:27

yes olgaga but for childminders the fact is, we still have the same number restriction. What the NCMA opposes is that we can look after two babies under the age of one and that we can look after four under five year olds.

There are concerns but this was the initial response from the NCMA:

Liz Bayram, Joint Chief Executive, says, "Today’s decision to maintain the current ratio levels for registered childminders will be welcomed by our members and other childminders, who have spent months stating their concerns around proposals to increase the number of children a childminder can care for at one time. We are relieved that, after months of uncertainty, the Department has listened to the professionals doing the job on a daily basis and will maintain the current 1:6 ratio."

It's on their website.

olgaga Tue 05-Feb-13 16:37:44

The National Day Nurseries Association, the Pre-School Learning Alliance and the National Childminding Association have all spoken out against the ratio plans.

blueberryupsidedown Tue 05-Feb-13 16:06:59

Under the new proposal childminders won't look after more children but the age ratio is different.

England (current) - Childminders can have a maximum of six children under the age of 8, a maximum of three young children (until 1st September following their 5th birthday), and a maximum of one child under 1.
England (proposed) - Childminders can have a maximum of six children under the age of 8, a maximum of 4 young children (until 1st September following their 5th birthday), and a maximum of two children under 1. Ratios can be exceeded by one for reasonable periods of time to allow for overlaps between children.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Mon 04-Feb-13 16:48:51

Of course, and the childminders will have to work much harder for the same money if they drop their hourly rate (though why would they....).

Join the discussion

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

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: