Do you want the best for our children?
I have been campaigning to protect the ratios since 2013 as our then Minister, Elizabeth Truss decided to pursue a plan to reduce staff to child ratios. It was very unpopular and was roundly rejected by both the sector and parents. 84% of parents disagreed with a change to ratios.
Her rationale was that fewer regulations would reduce childcare costs. We are back in the same position and the Department for Education (DfE) has issued a consultation to ask if we are agreeable to change the ratios so that there are five toddlers to every staff member.
You can access the consultation here.
No evidence for policy change
The main reason for this change is to reduce the cost of childcare to parents. HOWEVER, there is NO (and I repeat, no) evidence that increasing the number of children will have any impact on the cost of childcare. How could there be when we are already losing an average of £1.07 per hour per child, and 64% are operating at a loss. In fact, the research from the EYA said 78% of nurseries would not increase their fees this year or limit the increase if the funding worked. So, what actually would help parental fees is an increase in funding.
Even a survey released in May 2022 by the Early Years Alliance revealed around nine in 10 nurseries and pre-schools in England are opposed to the Government plans to relax childcare ratios, with just 2% indicating that changes to ratio rules would result in them lowering fees for parents. What we need is a new vision for Early Years led by a brave Department of Education.
What about Scotland?
The DfE says these lower (proposed) ratios operate in Scotland. Well, so what! Scotland balances this ratio by providing much more generous funding and each setting has a pedagogical leader to provide staff with extra support. It might be easier to manage such ratios when you have a more supportive service with additional advisory support roles to balance the daily activities.
So now we are offered a consultation. We know from previous experience that consultations are merely a PR exercise and when the Government doesn’t like the responses, they ignore the outcomes. Let’s make sure this cannot happen and engage!
Key question to consider
Here are 8 key questions to consider:
1. Why push a policy that effectively puts more pressure on a staff who are leaving the sector in droves because of low salaries and low status?
2. Why put more pressure on staff who are responding to the developmental needs of post pandemic children?
3. Why make changes to a situation where children will get reduced attention and pedagogical input which will have a negative impact on their school success?
4. Why would we think it’s ok to put our children into crowded nurseries? How is that good for their wellbeing and safety?
5. How will we change nappies and spend time on intimate activities, talking to the child and having a little singing game when we are trying to keep our eyes in the back of our heads to make sure 5 other toddlers are safe?
6. Why vote for a two-tier system where bigger nurseries with economies of scale may be able to keep ratios higher and poorer nurseries have to reduce ratios and decrease the quality. I fear poorer children will lose out even though they are the ones who can least afford this?
7. Why jeopardise those children already facing disadvantage such as those two-year olds coming through the Two Year Old Programme who have language and behavioural issues and need additional care and attention?
8. Do you want to endorse a policy that has minimal cost benefits but maximum detriment to our youngest children?
Please share with your parents and get their involvement. Think carefully about this. Remember there is NO evidence that your fees with reduce but we can be sure the children and staff won’t benefit
Tweet, Shout out, Share #SaveOurRatios
Access the consultation here.