Too many people who work with young children are under-qualified and the system for qualifications is confusing and inadequate.
This cannot continue if we are expected to compete in a global market and we want to provide children with a complete and fulfilled education.
- The first step in doing this is to make sure qualifications for the Early Years workforce are rigorous and more demanding.
- Secondly, we propose to allow nurseries to relax ratios only where they hire highly-qualified staff. Nurseries without highly-qualified staff will need to stick to existing ratios.
- Thirdly, we will set up childminding agencies who will offer a one-stop shop service for childminders – taking care of business practicalities, and quality assurance for parents.
- Fourth, Ofsted will be the only arbiter of quality, reducing the burden on LAs from doing their own inspections and saving them money so more can go to the frontline.
- Fifth, by abolishing the requirement on schools to register separately with Ofsted, if they want to provide care and education for children under the age of three – we will make it easier for more schools to offer childcare and early education.
Education and Childcare Minister Elizabeth Truss said:
It is right that the Government does everything it can to ensure the provision delivering early education is of the highest quality, staff are paid better, and childcare is affordable to parents.
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.
Parents want a choice of quality home-based care, quality nursery care or a combination of the two. Our proposals for overhauling childcare qualifications, having Early Years teachers, and child-minding agencies, underpinned by a robust inspection regime, will provide this.
At the moment, many nursery and private, voluntary and independent settings do not use full ratios. We think teacher-led settings with full ratios and structured activities are a good thing. Ofsted will favour this too. We do not mean to stipulate how all settings should behave, but we want parents to have the choice.
National mandatory ratios in different countries
|England (current ratios)||1:3||1:3||1:4||1:8 or 1:13|
England (proposed ratios where there are
high quality staff)
|1:4||1:4||1:6||1:8 or 1:13|
|France||1:5||1:8||1:8 or 1:12||1:8 or 1:26|
|Ireland||1:3||1:5||1:6 or 1:11||1:8 or 1:11|
In France, nursery staff can look after eight 2-year-olds each. In Holland and Ireland, they can look after six 2-year-olds. But in England, they can look after only four 2-year-olds.
And childminders in Denmark can look after five children under the age of 5. In France, they can look after four under-5s. In England, they can only look after three.
Relaxing ratios would not mean it was mandatory for childminders to look after more children. Far from it. Instead, it would allow them to exercise their professional judgment, giving them more options over how they operate.
Ros Marshall, kidsunlimited:
As a leading nursery operator in the UK, kidsunlimited broadly welcomes the focus and changes that the Government is proposing in relation to nursery care provision.
Early Years learning is a crucial stage of a child’s development and the increased recognition of its importance will benefit children and families, while the focus on qualifications will help staff in the sector gain the status and recognition that their hard work deserves.
Relaxing staff ratios will ultimately offer nurseries a degree of flexibility to focus on the best-qualified staff and highest standards of care for children and the introduction of childminder agencies will help those sole practitioners who operate to a high standard get the support network they need to thrive and reduce costly registration practices.
Anne Longfield, Chief Executive of 4Children, said:
Parents throughout the country agree with Government that ‘more great childcare’ is needed. We know that the shortage of affordable and accessible childcare is the biggest barrier to parents returning to work and holding down their job.
Parents also agree that childcare needs to be the highest quality. Parents need the peace of mind that their children are being well looked after by well-trained and qualified staff.
4Children welcomes the further consultations that will follow today’s launch which offer childcare experts and parents alike an opportunity to have their say on this important subject. These are complex issues and it is vital that we take the time to get it right. It is crucial that any changes that are made reduce inequality between young children from disadvantaged families and their better-off peers and we will work with Government to realise that ambition.
Government’s plans to improve the quality and qualifications of staff are very welcome and offer an opportunity to look again at how childcare is organised and staffed.
The welfare of the child must be our first concern throughout but with highly-qualified Early Years teachers and a better inspection regime, there is an opportunity to review current arrangements and provide simpler information for parents and better incentives for providers to concentrate on what matters – children.
Ben Black, Director of My Family Care, said:
As someone who employs 200 people across various childcare businesses, I feel passionately about the issues and about the changes proposed by the Government.
Childcare in the UK is very heavily subsidized, ultimately by us taxpayers, in various over-complicated ways. And yet it remains expensive and unaffordable for many.
We all know that nursery staff, given the responsibilities they have and jobs they do, are under-paid. Looking at ratios, and in some cases daring to suggest that they be relaxed, isn’t only sensible; it’s essential. The quality of nursery workers is the most important consideration for parents by a distance and there’s an obvious link between ratios, how much nursery owners can afford to pay and how many good childcarers are lost to the industry every year to marginally better-paying jobs. It’s a tragedy.
From my position as a parent and a provider giving nurseries a bit more leeway on ratios is absolutely the right approach. Ultimately that will lead to better paid jobs, better quality and more affordable childcare.
The Government will report shortly on care for school age children, informal childcare and the funding regime. The childcare commission, which is looking at affordability and accessibility, will report soon.
European News from NetNewsPublisher.com