Nurseries and childcare campaigners across the East are warning that a childcare recruitment crisis is looming.
They fear that new requirements for nursery practitioners to have good GCSE's will discourage promising candidates from applying.
The new rules, which start in September, will mean that nursery practitioners wanting to progress to their 'Level 3' qualification, will need at least a C grade in GSCE maths and english.
Alternative qualifications, such as Functional Skills, will no longer accepted.
A Comres poll of people in the East of England found:
- 65% thought the maths and English qualifications would exclude potential applicants
- The same number favoured an alternative where young people without the qualifications should be allowed to to complete an apprenticeship with a nursery instead.
- Though 85% did agree there should be qualifications standards in place for early years staff.
Joanne Rockall, who runs Owlett's Preschool in Langford, Bedfordshire, said the new policy was already causing recruitment problems.
Under government rules nurseries have to have one member of staff to every eight children aged 3 and 4. Under the new requirements nurseries will still be able to hire staff without good GSCE's, but they won't count towards their ratios.
Michelle Shaw has worked at Owlett's Preschool for the last ten years.
A spokesperson from the Department for Education said: