The Government has proposed to increase the ratios in day care so a nursery worker can look after up to 4 under twos – currently the limit is 3 – and up to 6 two year olds, rather than the current limit of four.
Personally, I’m not sure it is a great idea. Children benefit from developing relationships with their carers. When I settled D for the first time in nursery around 10 years ago, it was important to me, and to her, that I handed her to her key worker. Even as a tiny baby, she was able to know a familiar face and scent, and be reassured by it. Small children also need contact, and interaction, both of which will be cut if there are fewer staff.
A nursery worker interviewed on Radio One’s Newsbeat summed it up really simply when she explained how she might have a chance of getting three non-walking kids out in case of a fire, but there was no way she could carry four. Zoe Williams has tested the idea out – read her article here. I particularly liked the way she highlighted which child would get ignored, and the impossibility of taking the children out with the new ratio. Penny Webb, a childminder with 30 years experience, is concerned too. She is clear that the impact on quality of care will be ‘devastating’.
My final concern is that the Government claims this will make childcare more affordable, and I’m just not convinced. If you look at the economics of running a nursery, there isn’t much money to spare. Parents do struggle to cover the cost of childcare, but nursery staff are generally poorly paid. Will parents really see the cost of childcare fall? There are concerns about this from the leaders of organisations including Family Parenting Institute and Daycare Trust and the National Day Nurseries Association too: “The evidence is that changes to ratios would not in practice significantly reduce costs to parents but might have a negative effect on the quality of care children receive.”
Is the change in ratio something you are willing to accept as a parent, in order to make childcare a little more affordable? It is vital that parent’s voices are heard in this discussion. How much reduction in costs would make childcare affordable to you? I’d love to know your views …
If you feel that this change isn’t a good idea there are a number of petitions that you can sign: