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Childcare ratios: Lib Dems to veto planned changes

(119 Posts)
SarahMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 09-May-13 08:01:37

Morning everyone,

For those of you who've been following the campaign to persuade the government to roll back on its proposed reforms to adult-child ratios for childcarers, we have good news. It was announced on Newsnight last night that Nick Clegg has told the Conservative party he will block the planned changes to ratios, which were expected to be brought in in September.

Due to opposition across the boards to the relaxation of the ratios - particularly evident in the recent webchat with Childcare Minister Liz Truss - Mumsnet gave its backing to the Pre-School Learning Alliance's Rewind on Ratios campaign, which called for the Government to scrap its plans and to undertake a full consultation with practitioners and parents on future proposals. The announcement from the Lib Dems looks like the first step in that direction.

Justine appeared on the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning to explain Mumsnetters' opposition to the changes, saying: "There is a general feeling on our website that it will have a bad impact on the quality of provision. When we surveyed our members, only 5% said they would be happy to accept a relaxation of ratios, even if it meant lower costs" - which pretty much sums it up. Thanks to all of you who signed the petition: your support made a difference!


morethanpotatoprints Fri 10-May-13 16:17:31


"left like rules and right like freedom". What utter tosh.
Right wing are typically rich meaning unless they inherited a whole heap of money, they worked hard to earn all their money. This more often than not involves following many rules, policies, procedures, jumping through hoops and giving a pound of flesh. Hardly freedom.
How would you outlaw housewives, a group of people who existed in the 1950's. Do you mean you'd force women to work rather than raise their children, as some sahm's aren't married

Goldmandra Fri 10-May-13 16:27:52

Only clever graduates, who've thought carefully about how to interact with children, can do both at least as well. They're not intrinsically any less cuddly either, even if they do know some long words !

Under the proposed ratios these clever graduates would have more children to care for. The may understand better how the cuddles and interaction support the babies but they won't have the extra eyes, arms and laps needed to offer them.

WouldBeHarrietVane Fri 10-May-13 16:29:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JugglingFromHereToThere Fri 10-May-13 16:37:57

BTW my "only" there, regarding the clever graduates, should be read more as "but" just to be clearer.
I know people who work with young children from all sorts of backgrounds can provide excellent care and early years education, which I agree are inextricably linked things anyway.
It's just a little annoying when people seem to think that any training you've done in this field might make you a worse practitioner rather than a better one ! Being reflective as well as practical is usually a good thing.

insancerre Fri 10-May-13 16:47:08

Completely agree goldmandra
As an extremely experienced early years practitioner with over 20 years experience and a degree and a post-grad qualification meaning I am an Early Years Professional, I am still waiting for my extra set of arms and eyes to be delivered. I must have missed them at my graduation.

JugglingFromHereToThere Fri 10-May-13 18:19:39

Would be nice though insancerre to have such experience and skills recognised through better pay and clearer recognition of training and qualifications gained ? But, probably like you, I don't see these proposals really delivering in these areas.
Cutting ratio's will not bring this about, it needs greater (returnable) investment from the government/society.

Solopower1 Sat 11-May-13 12:09:00

Excellent posts, Pip!

TiredFeet Sat 11-May-13 13:43:05

I think it is good news. the children who would suffer would be the ones' in nurseries that don't care and would use this to cut costs. the good nurseries would keep prices high and keep ratios high, I know I am prepared to sacrifice most things to ensure ds has decent childcare at whatever cost. but some parents don't have that choice so it would be the poorest children that lose out.

TiredFeet Sat 11-May-13 13:44:49

I am less concerned about the pre-school age ratios, but tiny children / toddlers mainly need lots of cuddles and attention. ds gets this in heaps at the minute but his nursery's ratio's are better than the required anyway. I fail to see how tinies could get the care they need on higher ratios, however well qualified the staff

Cloverer Sat 11-May-13 13:47:07

Increasing ratios is not going to cut costs, isn't that the biggest flaw in the government's proposals? That seems to be the main thing they are trying to achieve (lower childcare costs for consumers) and they are completely failing.

That's even before we get into the issues of qualifications and pay for workers, which of course these proposals aren't tackling either.

WouldBeHarrietVane Sat 11-May-13 14:09:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Goldmandra Sat 11-May-13 16:15:23

What a lot of parents don't realise is that the hourly rate paid to settings to cover the 15 hours free for pre-schoolers is so low as to be almost unmanageable for some and it has put others out of business.

The worry is that they will reduce it further, justifying it by saying that each higher ratios will mean lower costs. That will mean that the higher rations are effectively no longer voluntary.

So the only body whose costs will be reduced is the govt.

Tanith Sat 11-May-13 16:52:28

None of it will reduce costs for parents!
Ratios are just a part of the proposals that Liz Truss has come up with. Welcome, but a bit of a damp squib so far as making a difference goes.

Nick Clegg is not listening, either. The most objections received on the consultation were about the childminder agencies: childminders do not want them and they will almost certainly increase costs for parents, who will be charged as they are for Sitters, and nanny agencies.

On Newsnight, the LD representative said they are still in favour of agencies. WHY??

Scrapping the ratios proposal is just an appeasement. Costs are high because our running costs are high. We've already had to cope with cuts to support and training budgets.
Much lower, and we'll be paying you to look after your children!

Here's a nice, simple cheap proposal: instead of setting up agencies to help childminders cope with all that extra administration and paperwork, why not simply scrap most of the paperwork, most of which is unnecessary?

Or do you think that's too simple for them?

WouldBeHarrietVane Sat 11-May-13 18:02:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TiredFeet Sat 11-May-13 20:02:44

wouldbe thank you, you explained it better than me, my head is a bit fuzzy at the minute. Yes I am worried about unscrupulous nurseries exploiting a ratio change for their own benefit and not even passing the cost reduction on, or reducing without reflecting on whether welfare of children (and, indeed, staff) is affected

RooneyMara Sun 12-May-13 15:23:45

I am so glad to hear this.

I just spoke to my friend who works in the baby room at a local nursery. They already have 1-3 babies per person and if this went ahead they would have 4 each.

She said it'd be chaos. Then you have got the rubbish nurseries who are just in it for a quick buck, to compete with if you offer something above the minimum recommendations.

I really hope that the whole thing is scrapped. I don't even use a nursery but I feel for those who do.

Tanith Mon 13-May-13 08:46:36

I meant to say that Nick Clegg's comments on the ratios was welcome, not Liz Truss's proposals - God forbid! smile

I do wonder, too, if Snazzy had it right at the beginning of the thread: perhaps we can trace Nick's uncharacteristic show of teeth back to that disastrous Election night the LDs had other week.

olgaga Tue 14-May-13 08:03:04

The more I think about this proposal, the more it seems a complete con.

Let's face it, it's not going to be mandatory that every EY setting will increase the number of children. It won't be possible in most anyway, as most are at capacity.

So there will be a few who increase their places and use the money to pay for more highly qualified staff - so the cost to parents will stay the same.

Many who retain the current ratios will be able to rightly tell parents that they have ratios which allow a more child-centred approach - so the cost to parents will stay the same.

I think the only way of getting around the cost of childcare is to spread the cost over a longer period.

The Govt could pay all or a greater proportion of the fees, and it is then paid back by parents over a longer period, rather like student loans.

tonyzre Wed 15-May-13 11:34:01

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

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