Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

UK Government moves to expand childcare:

Under pressure for childcare places - just like Australia - the UK Government relaxes staff-to-child ratios.
By Motherpedia
Date: February 04 2013
Editor Rating:

A relaxation in the number of pre-school children that nurseries and registered child minders can oversee has been proposed by the UK Government as part of a move to overcome challenges surrounding childcare.

Elizabeth Truss, the UK’s Early Years Minister, has announced plans to allow nurseries to relax their ratios when qualified staff are present, increasing from four to six two-year-old children per staff member.

The reform would also see the permitted staff-to-child ratios rise from the current one-to-three to one-to-four for one-year-olds. Truss says the ratios would rise further if a fully-qualified teacher is present.

"One of the problems that parents have is not just the exorbitant cost, it is the availability. I personally have struggled to find a nursery place for love or money, and many parents say that," Truss said British radio on Tuesday.

Truss says by raising care ratios, popular operations would be able to expand by economies of scale, which would make childcare more widely available. She also said the reforms would mean better paid and better qualified staff.

"The pay level of staff at the moment – nursery workers are getting £6.60 an hour (AUD$10)– it's barely more than the minimum wage. I do not think that is an acceptable wage rate for what should be a professional job."

Parents and childcare bodies have come out strongly against the Government’s proposals. The Pre-School Learning Alliance, the largest representative organisation of early years care providers labeled the proposed policy "unacceptable and a recipe for disaster".

In Australia, the Federal Government tightened the ratio under childcare reforms in January 2012 to one staff member to four children for those less than 24 months.

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