Childcare Ratio Changes Consultation Begins

Childcare Ratio Changes Consultation Begins

Despite the changes at the heart of government, the business of the Department for Education continues. Since late last year, the suggestion of changing the staff:child ratios in the childcare sector has been building momentum amongst policymakers and stirring up controversy in the sector. The proposal as it currently stands is to bring England into line with Scotland by allowing a ratio of 1:5 rather than 1:4 for 2 year olds. While this is arguably only a minor change, it is nonetheless opposed by many in the childcare sector.

Changing childcare ratios was last seriously proposed by Liz Truss when she was the childcare minister and a concerted campaign by the sector resulted in the policy being dropped. The reason it is attractive to ministers is that it seems to offer a way to relieve some of the financial pressures on the sector without the need to increase funding. However, as has been pointed out by many voices, the proposal as it stands will do very little in this respect and could be characterised as papering over the cracks. That said, there is also a suspicion that once one change has been made, more might follow and while the change from 1:4 to 1:5 may make little difference to safety, further adjustments might.

By no means all providers in the childcare sector are opposed to the changes. A survey by Morton Michel earlier this year indicated that around a quarter of our policyholders supported the scheme, while half opposed. However, other surveys within the sector have found much more strident scepticism and opposition. Those who want to have their say are being invited to contribute to the government’s consultation before any final decision is made.

The consultation documents can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/childcare-regulatory-changes