Childcare ratios under fire from Dorset nurseries
NURSERIES and pre-schools in Dorset are united in their criticism of the proposal by Children’s Minister Liz Truss to allow the increase in adult to children ratios.
The minister has said she would hope this would reduce the cost of childcare.
Debbie Benjafield, who has been running the Down in the Woods Pre-School in Chichester Walk for some 15 years said: “We work with the ratios laid down by the Early Years Foundation of one adult to four children. This would be raised to one adult to six children. It would probably be all right for nurseries and pre-schools who have two separate rooms - one for two year olds and the other for three to four year olds - but we have just one room,” she said.
Debbie added that on Monday afternoon they had five two-year-olds and four of those were screaming.
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“I can’t imagine what it would be like if one member of staff had to look after six screaming toddlers.”
Liz Truss has also said that new nursery staff should have a GCSE grade C or above in both English and Maths.
Debbie, who has 60 children on her books and accommodates 26 children a day, has a degree in childcare, but is working towards a GCSE in Maths as she was told her qualification was out of date.
“I’m not sure why I need a GCSE in maths to work with pre-school children,” she commented
Manager of Verwood Day Nursery Rachel Hanham, who has been working in childcare for 18 years, said: “We very much disagree with these proposals. We don’t think that reducing the ratios will cut childcare costs. We have very high qualify staff and feel they deserve good wages.”
She added that all their qualified staff possess a Montessori Diploma, Certificate of Education, NVQ3 or an equivalent qualification such as a BTEC National Diploma. Their nursery assistants hold qualifications to a level equal to NVQ Level 2 in Childcare and Education or are working towards it.
“We don’t agree with the ratios for under twos either, which would rise from three babies per adult to four,” she added.
Tops Day Nurseries which offer childcare at a number of local venues including Wimborne, Corfe Mullen, Poole, Parkstone, Wareham and Bournemouth are in agreement.
Managing director Cheryl Hadland said: “I feel that if one person had to look after four babies it would be a compromise of quality.
“And quite rightly staff would expect compensation if we asked them to do 25 per cent more work.”
She added that the proposals were not as straightforward as the Government envisaged.
“I know that in France and other countries they have one adult to six babies,” Cheryl added.
“However, although we are concerned, we’re not saying a definite no as we would like to make childcare more affordable. We will do what our customers want."