Better-qualified nurseries and childminders will be allowed to look after more children in an attempt by the Government to cut the cost of childcare for parents. Critics warn changes to the staff to kids ratios could compromise quality and safety.
The Government's plans to increase the number of children that nursery workers and childminders can look after came in for criticism today. Rather than drive up standards and reduce the cost of child care, critics said safety and quality may be compromised.
The new rules will apply in England only as Emily Morgan reports.
We are absolutely appalled by this fixation to alter ratios, despite the fact that those working in the sector are universally opposed to the proposal.
This as a recipe for disaster and I hope those making this decision will be as enthusiastic in answering questions from concerned parents and the media when the consequences of their actions come to the fore.
– Neil Leitch, Chief executive, Pre-school Learning Alliance
The Alliance says that a recent survey it conducted found that 94% of respondents were against changes to ratios.
Education minister Liz Truss has called for a shift in attitude towards seeing childcare as a profession that requires training.
She said: "It is a very demanding job that requires great and specialist expertise. I am not trained to do the job. I'm a politician, not an early educator. And I'm equally sure I could not walk into a class of 30 14-year-olds and teach them German."
When I went to France I learned that excellent nursery and home-based care is widely available. By contrast, most parents in the UK talk about how they have to "juggle" their work and childcare arrangements.
The government spends as much as the French on childcare, so this is about something else ...
French nursery workers are paid similarly to primary school teachers, but unlike our comparatively well-paid primary school teachers, nursery staff here earn £6.60 an hour – barely above the minimum wage.
They are almost unanimously opposed to the idea of raising child-to-carer ratios and demanding higher qualifications for carers.
Here is a selection of the comments:
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.
I fail to see how someone can care for four young babies adequately. I do fear it will lead to accidents or even worse ... If I had a young baby now, I would be worried all the time whilst I was at work with these proposed ratios.
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.