So the Government have announced that they are introducing new childcare reforms, governing the ratio of nursery carers to children, which they claim will “improve quality and cut costs”.
Currently, the ratios vary depending on age and setting, with one carer to four two year olds and for ones and under, three to one. The proposals will see the two year olds figure rise to six and the one year olds and under rising to three.
Children’s Minister, Liz Truss, claims that change in law will bring the UK in line with countries such as France and Sweden. She also added that England’s current ratios lead to higher costs for parents and lower pay for staff.
Truss explained, “It will make it higher quality, more available and more affordable. It will take time to recruit new people and expand nurseries. In the long term it will be more affordable,”
She then added that childcare professionals should be better qualified in the UK, stating, “When parents hand their child over to the care of a childminder or nursery, they are not just entrusting them with their child’s physical safety, they are also entrusting their child’s brain. With this in mind, it is no longer acceptable that childcare professionals are not required to have a GCSE grade C or above in English and maths.”
However there was a word of caution from the national childcare charity Daycare Trust spokesman, Anand Shukla, “No matter how well qualified the members of staff, there are practical considerations when you increase the number of children that they have to look after,” he said.
He went on to add, “for one person to look after six two-year-olds, for one person to talk to six two-year-olds, to help their language development, we think is going to be very difficult.”
This was echoed by National Day Nurseries Association Chief Executive, Purnima Tanuku, “Many parents do not want an increase in the number of children nursery staff are allowed to look after. They are worried it will have a negative impact on the individual attention and care their child receives.”
No parent is happy when their child first goes to nursery, it can be a stressful time for both them and the child. They feel happier that the more adults there are, the more they feel secure about leaving them so they will get the one on attention that they themselves would want to be giving them.
I’m sure that the debate surrounding this subject will rage on and so it should, as any changes to a young child’s education and development must be fully thought through.
Do you have any thoughts on the subject, how would you feel if there was a potential for reduced one on one contact for your child at your nursery?