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What does this mean to you?

Liz Truss, Conservative Childcare Minister has proposed that the adult to child ratio in day care settings should be raised from our current requirements.

England’s Nursery Ratios

CURRENT

  • Under one and one-year-olds – 1:3
  • Two-year-olds – 1:4
  • Three-year-olds and above – 1:8 or 1:13 (teacher-led)

PROPOSED

  • Under one and one-year-olds 1:4
  • Two-year-olds – 1:6
  • Three-year-olds and above – 1:8 or 1:13 (teacher-led)

I am both a mother and the owner of two nurseries and holding many qualifications, including those proposed for a ratio of 1:13!

I believe these proposals will lower the quality of care and education.

This proposal will not decrease costs for families as proposed, settings will not simply be able to reduce their staff quota and will therefore still be forced to charge the same costs to remain sustainable, in fact the increased costs of employing graduates has impacted on childcare costs in recent years.

There is staff morale and job satisfaction to consider too, most adults who embark on a career in early years do it because they enjoy being involved in nurturing and educating young children. To put the extra pressure on adults by lowering ratios means that their abilities to maintain safety for children and ensure they are offered exceptional support in their learning to the highest standards will likely become ‘just adequate’. Team members who are academically unable to meet the qualification requirements but are excellent practitioners could become devalued in their wealth of experience as part of our wider society role models. Surely we should be teaching our children that everyone has a valuable place in our society?
With regard to qualifications, I firmly believe that raising qualifications do raise standards and it is important to professionalize the early years industry by raising the standards of education for leaders, practitioners and assistants but to think that graduates, EYPS leaders or qualified teachers are more equipped to offer high quality care and education to increased numbers of children is naïve. The government should be putting funds toward further training and the long term sustainability of these graduates in early years settings. In my experience funds for training over the last few years have been diminishing.
Have government ministers ever tried to help five toddlers to put their wellies, waterproofs, coats, gloves and hats on whilst comforting them in their distress of the hustle and bustle of the situation all at the same time? Then to get outside for some ‘quality outdoor exploration’ whilst ensuring the team are making valuable interactions and worthwhile contributions in children’s learning to find that two of the five children need their nappies changing and one needs to sleep?! What about their basic nurturing needs?
Young children need to feel comfortable and secure in order to experience the most from the learning opportunities that settings provide and this means they need to be nurtured by caring adults that they have had the time and opportunity to bond with. Qualifications increase knowledge and should be valued as such not as a replacement for care.

I believe that raising quality by higher qualification in addition to maintaining sensible ratios will be what sets the UK apart from other nations.

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