NUT: Nick Clegg raises concerns over Government plans to relax child care ratios

Commenting on the Government’s plans to allow adults in early years settings in England to look after a higher number of children, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“The Governments plans to increase the ratio of children to carer in pre-school settings would be a seriously bad move for children and their parents. Looking after 6 two-year-olds or 4 under-ones would be beyond the wit of all most everyone and will certainly impact negatively on the individual care and attention children will receive.

‘With the Deputy Prime Minister himself now speaking out against this reform it is surely time that the Government put a stop to it. Child care costs are a real problem for most families but this is not issue which can be addressed in this way. Cutting the requirement for the number of staff an early years setting needs to employ will simply add to the problem of the quality of the child care on top of the cost. 

‘The Children’s Minister cites France as an example whose nurseries have a higher ratio of children to carers. What she fails to recognise is that many people in France view their own system as lacking in creativity and paying insufficient attention to child development. They are looking to England and the Nordic countries for inspiration to reform the current system and to learn from our tradition of play as a vital part of education for young children.

‘Ofsted ratings for Early Years were up again last year across the board, while the reputable Economist Intelligence Unit survey published last year(1), places the UK third in its international table for quality of Early Years Services (EYS), with France placed ninth.

“The professionalism of teachers lies at the heart of real outcomes in EYS. To provide the best pre-school provision for parents and children the Government needs to restore the necessity for a qualified teacher to be employed in maintained settings”. 

END               pr91-2013

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Editor’s Note