Nurseries will be free to take more children to cut childcare costs

Sweeping reforms to childcare in England will raise the cap on the number of children nurseries can take and introduce minimum exam grades for those who look after them. This is from the Telegraph…

Nurseries will be allowed to nearly double the number of toddlers they care for under plans aimed at cutting childcare costs.

Ministers hope that increasing the places available will bring down fees, making it easier for mothers to return to work, while boosting the Government’s low popularity among women.

Currently, the average cost of a full-time nursery place is about £115 a week but some nurseries in London can charge as much as £300.

Childcare costs account for 26.6 per cent of the £26,500 average wage in the UK, more than double the 11.8 per cent average among advanced economies.

Under the new measures, the current limit of one member of staff to every four toddlers will be scrapped. Nurseries will instead be able to take on six two year olds to every childcare worker.

The ratios for babies under one and for one year olds will also go up from 1:3 to 1:4.

The move will be contingent on nurseries employing a high proportion of well-qualified staff.

Childminders, who can currently care for up to three under fives, will now be able to take up to four.

The relaxing of the cap on toddler numbers will bring the UK in line with other countries in Europe. In nurseries in Denmark and Ireland the figure is six, while in French crèches, one adult can supervise up to eight toddlers.

Elizabeth Truss, the education minister spearheading the reforms, blames regulation and bureaucracy here for keeping fees high and restricting the amount childcare workers can earn.

A Whitehall source said: “Childcare in England is too expensive and often not good enough.

“We are going to free up high quality nurseries to offer more places. That means parents will have more choice of good quality childcare at lower cost. These new ratios will move England into line with other countries where affordable high quality childcare is readily available.”

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