Nursery ratios raised to cut childcare costs

Nurseries and childminders in England are to be allowed to look after more children per adult in an attempt to cut childcare costs. Children’s Minister Liz Truss will say the ratio of children to child carers can be raised but only if the carers’ qualifications meet new standards. This is from the BBC…

Critics warn the change in ratios could compromise quality and safety.

They also predict the changes will be unpopular with parents and unlikely to reduce the overall costs of childcare.

Britain has some of the highest childcare costs in the world, with many mothers with two or more children saying it does not make financial sense to work.

An earlier report by Ms Truss suggested the average family spends 27% of their income on childcare

Ms Truss says the answer is to “relax” the childcare ratios, which she argues are higher than in comparable European countries. England’s higher ratios lead to higher costs for parents and lower pay for staff, she says.

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)

She will say in a speech in London on Tuesday: “Other European countries have taken a different approach on ratios. They think that the quality of staff is the most important thing.

“Whereas in England nursery staff may look after no more than three one-year-olds, in France they can be responsible for five – and there are no limits in Denmark, Germany or Sweden.”

She added: “That is why we are encouraging nurseries to use their professional judgement and enjoy greater flexibility.

“Where there is an early-years educator working with children, we plan to allow ratios for two-year-olds to rise from four children per adult to six children per adult. And for ones-and-under to rise from three children per adult to four children per adult.

“Ratios for three-year-olds and over would remain at eight or 13 children per adult, depending on whether a qualified graduate was present.

Ms Truss said: “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.”

This will apply to new nursery staff only, however.

More at:  Nursery ratios raised to cut childcare costs

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Categories: Pre-school.

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