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Alliance criticises reports of ratio rule change

By Rachel Lawlerchild playing childcare ratios relaxed

Reports that the government is planning to increase the number of children each adult can look after in a childcare setting have been criticised by the Alliance.

On 2 October, The Telegraph reported that the rules were due to be “relaxed” in order to lower costs for parents.

The report said: “Officials are looking at changing the rules so one staff member can supervise more children than is currently allowed. Education sources argued that allowing childcare workers to watch larger groups of children would force down the amount parents have to pay.”

Media speculation
The Department for Education would not comment on speculation in The Telegraph but said that any changes to ratios would be subject to consultation with the sector and reiterated that the number of childcare places offered by providers remains stable, with no significant numbers of parents unable to secure a place since early years settings reopened to all parents in June 2020.

Rewind on ratios
This is not the first time a relaxation of ratios has been suggested as a cost-cutting measure. In 2013, plans by the Coalition government were blocked by the then deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg following the Alliance’s successful Rewind on Ratios campaign.

Sector dismay
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: "We are dismayed by reports that the government plans to relax childcare ratios, and will fully oppose any attempts to do so. Let’s be clear: if the government does attempt to relax ratios, it won’t because they want to help providers or parents. It will because ministers see doing so as a shortcut to fixing the childcare crisis that they created without having to actually invest in the early years sector.

"Existing adult-child ratios in early years settings are there for a reason: they safeguard young children’s safety and wellbeing and ensure that they get the best possible care and education. For the government to even consider making such a change would speak volumes about how little they value quality early care and education.

"When ministers tried to make this change eight years ago, parents and providers united to oppose it. We hope the government isn’t planning to make the same mistake twice."