Embargoed until: 00:01am on Friday 22nd March
Early years sector concerned that reforms could put children at
A new survey from leading children's charity the National
Children's Bureau (NCB), reports wide spread concerns across the
early years sector over proposed childcare reforms.
The survey, which gathered the views of those on the 'frontline'
of childcare (the early year's networks, including staff from local
authority early years teams, managers and practitioners from
nursery settings, alongside childminders and parents) suggests the
government may need to rethink plans to overhaul the childcare
system as set out in the 'More Great Childcare'report released in
February this year.
Findings from the survey revealed that 95% of respondents are
concerned about increasing childcare ratios, saying that
practitioners caring for children aged two or under should not be
looking after a greater number of children. Similarly, 80% felt
that the ratios for under fives should also remain as they are.
Suggested changes would see both these ratios raised to one
adult/staff member to four children.
One practitioner said:"Relaxing child to staff ratios will
increase the health and safety risk for children, especially in the
case of fire evacuation, as one person cannot carry four babies.
The staff member will be providing basic care needs and will not
have the time to provide stimulating individual activities for
children and safeguarding issues may be missed."
Dr Hilary Emery, Chief Executive of National Children's Bureau
said: "The message coming from the early years sector is that
whilst there is agreement that the government needs to act in order
to make childcare more affordable, there are widely held fears that
allowing providers to take on more children, in the same space with
the same number of staff, could put children's welfare at risk and
won't necessarily save parents any more money."
"We welcome the support for the development of the early years
workforce, to ensure the highest quality provision. However, the
report reflects concerns that the proposed new Early Years Teacher
qualification will not lead to Qualified Teacher Status and give
parity with other teachers as Professor Cathy Nutbrown recommended
in her expert review for government. "
"In moving forward ministers need to take account of what
providers are saying, and work with the sector in finalising their
One respondent said:"Without the clear identification of Early
Years Teachers within the ranks of qualified teachers, the goal of
attracting high calibre individuals into this demanding and skilled
professional will not be realised."
Further responses from the survey included:
- A concern that the government proposals would mean Ofsted
becoming the 'sole arbiter of quality'. Many of those 'on the
ground' feel that local authorities should also provide quality
improvement and support functions, with 80% of respondents fearing
slipping standards if local authorities were relieved of their
current duty to carry out childcare sufficiency assessments every
- Respondents were also worried about the introduction of
childminder agencies. One individual stated"All childminders within
the agency will hold the same Ofsted judgement regardless of
practice and this will not accurately reflect the practice of all
the childminders within the agency."NCB's recommendations include a
suggestion that DfE looks to expand childminding networks, through
focused and systematic support from central and local government as
Further information and the full report 'More Great Childcare-
Survey of National Children's Bureau early years networks'are
available on the NCB website:
For more information, please contact the National Children's
Bureau's media office for on 0207 843 6045 /47 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For urgent
enquiries out of office hours call 07721 097 033.
Notes to editors
'More Great Childcare- Survey of National Children's Bureau
early years networks'examined the views of NCB's early years
networks (staff from local authority early years teams, managers
and practitioners working within nursery settings, and staff from
the children's voluntary sector). Nearly 40% of survey respondents
did not belong to an NCB network; these included individuals
working more widely in the early years and childcare sector, such
as child minders, and a small number of parents. 324 people
responded to this survey.
The National Children's Bureau (NCB)
The National Children's Bureau is a leading charity that for 50
years has been improving the lives of children and young people,
especially the most vulnerable. Working with children and for
children, we strive to reduce the impact of inequalities by
influencing government policy using our extensive research and
expertise, being a strong voice for young people and practitioners,
and providing creative solutions on issues including health,
education and care. Every year we reach more than 100,000 children
and young people through our membership scheme, links with
voluntary, statutory and private organisations, and the specialist
membership programmes that we host. For more information visit www.ncb.org.uk
"Childminding Practice in England"
In December 2011 National Children's Bureau published the
results of an in-depth study into childminding "Childminding
Practice in England" funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and
in 2013 a further analysis of study data on the views of parents
who use child minders.
Both reports can be found on the National Children's Bureau
An NCB briefing on childcare ratios is available from: