Petition Do not reduce staff-child ratios in early years childcare
The Government should not reduce the existing adult-child childcare ratios as has been suggested. There are surely better ways to reduce the cost of living – potentially endangering children in trusted care is not how it should be done.
Increasing how many children an adult can legally be held responsible for risks increasing the danger that those young children, the most vulnerable in society, are being subjected to.
This response was given on 17 May 2022
We will consult in the summer on moving to the Scottish ratios for two-year-olds, from a ratio of 1:4 to 1:5. We will engage fully with the sector and parents/carers on this proposed change.
Read the response in full
The Government will consult in the summer on moving to the Scottish ratios for two-year-olds, from a ratio of 1:4 (one adult to four children) to 1:5 (one adult to five children). Throughout this consultation process, we will engage fully with the sector and parents/carers on this proposed change. Our priority continues to be to provide safe, high quality early years provision for our youngest children.
This change would align the English system to that of Scotland. We are proposing to move to the Scottish ratios for 2-year-olds on the basis that Scotland has a similar childcare system to England, we have no evidence to suggest that the Scottish model is unsafe, and evidence shows high parental satisfaction rates. England’s statutory minimum staff to child ratios for 2-year-olds are among the highest in Europe.
Whilst these proposed changes to ratios would amend the existing statutory minimum requirements, providers would continue to be able to staff above these minimum requirements if that is their preference. These changes would hand greater autonomy to settings to exercise professional judgement in the way in which they staff their settings, according to the needs of their children, and help as many families as possible benefit from affordable, flexible, quality childcare.
The safety and quality of early years provision is of utmost importance to the Government. All early years providers are legally required to keep children safe and promote their welfare. The Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework (EYFS) [https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/974907/EYFS_framework_-_March_2021.pdf] sets the standards and requirements that all early years providers must follow to ensure all children have the best start in life, including requirements for the ratios of staff to children.
This also includes safeguarding and welfare requirements such as the paediatric first aid requirement (PFA), where at least one person who has a current PFA certificate must be on the premises and available at all times when children are present. Early Years providers must ensure that people looking after children are suitable to fulfil the requirements of their role and providers must train all staff to understand their safeguarding policy and procedures. These, along with the other requirements within the EYFS, are designed to help early years providers create high quality settings which are welcoming, safe and stimulating, and where children are able to enjoy learning and grow in confidence.
The Government recognises that the cost of living and the cost of childcare is a concern for people. The Department for Education is working across government to support families with their childcare bills through 15 hours free childcare for eligible 2-year-olds, 30 hours free childcare for 3–4-year-olds, Tax Free Childcare and Universal Credit. We have spent over £3.5bn in each of the past three years on our early education entitlements and the Government is committed to continuing to look for ways to improve the cost, choice, and availability of childcare and early education. Furthermore, at Spending Review (SR) ‘21 we announced additional funding of £160m in 2022-23, £180m in 2023-24 and £170m in 2024-25, compared to the 2021-22 financial year. This is for Local Authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers and reflects cost pressures and changes in the number of eligible children anticipated at the time of the SR.
Department for Education
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