Tag Archives: ratios

Proposed Changes for UK Childcare – For Better or Worse?

This week a BBC article Ministers’ Plan Childcare Change   outlined the UK governments proposals for reducing the cost of childcare.

Alongside making some provision tax deductible, other proposals include

  • increasing the number of children a childminder can care for.
  •  improving their qualification level in a bid to maintain quality.

It seems however, that there are a number of flaws in their thinking.

‘Ms Truss has pushed for reform to regulations imposed on child minders to
increase the number of child minding places. If more places can be provided for
parents, then the Conservatives believe prices might start to come down.’

Yet in a later paragraph:

‘Downing Street sources said Liberal Democrat and Conservative figures alike were
now convinced that looser ratios mean nurseries can take more children on which
could see staff paid more, and so greater quality staff attracted.’

I’m not sure that increased wages for early years workers and a lower cost to parents can be achieved without a significant investment of government funds.

It seems to me that the government believe that by increasing the number of children childminders can care for, they will attract more people to the profession, as they will be able to earn more.  However they are also proposing changes to the qualifications needed to become a childminder in a bid to maintain quality.

In my experience of working with childminders, this is what I think will happen. A proportion of very good childminders will be scared off by the thought of having to achieve yet another qualification, losing many of our oldest and most experienced childminders. Those that stay may take on extra children but once they are better qualified and have factored in the added expense of having more children (e.g. equipment, larger car) and the additional challenges of caring for a large number of children under 5, they are likely to quite rightly increase rather than decrease their hourly rate. Some childminders will decide that their quality depends on taking fewer children, therefore not achieving the desired increase in childcare places.  Some will be attracted to the industry I’m sure but how attractive really is looking after 5 children under the age of 5 on your own?

In my opinion these proposals reduce parental choice.  I like many women chose to send my children, in their first years, to a childminder.  I chose this for my children because I felt a home environment where my children could experience many of the things they did with mummy, would be the easiest transition.  I also chose a childminder because they could play with a few other children but have the individual, loving attention they needed from one adult.  My children love their childminder in the way they would an aunt or a close friend of the family. I’m worried that this would be lost once the number of children is raised significantly above the size of the average family.

My mother was a childminder when I was growing up. The children she cared for (never more than 2 at a time) became an extension to our family, they called her ‘aunty’.  Childminders these days take on far more children in a bid to fulfil demand for places and to earn a decent wage, if the ratio is increased again will there be any  ‘aunties’ left? Please UK government don’t take away parental choice.

These are my thoughts, what are yours?

Sign the petition to avoid changes to childcare ratios.

Will Changing Ratios for Childminders Improve Quality?

As I was driving yesterday a discussion came on the radio that took my interest. The discussion was regarding proposed changes to make Childcare in England more affordable and improve quality. Great, I’m a fan of both of those.
However, the proposal suggests that the way to achieve this is to allow childminders to care for more children, five under 5’s (two of which can be under 1).  Allowing childminders to care for more children would attract higher paid and therefore better qualified staff, in turn raising quality.


Am I missing something here? I have three children (two under 5) and looking after three children on my own is hard work. If I met a woman with five children under 5 I would either think she was some kind of superwoman or look upon her with extreme pity. I am one of these supposedly highly qualified women they refer to, I have a teaching qualification, extensive experience in Early Education and Childcare and a masters degree in Psychology of Education. Even with all this knowledge and experience nothing on this earth would convince me to look after five children under 5 all day.

I have an amazing childminder and choose a childminder for my kids so that they have quality time with one carer.  My childminder loves children, they do loads of fun things and she is unflappable. I admire her calm demeanor on the school run with 6 children – my idea of hell. Maybe it’s just me who thinks this idea is bonkers and will reduce quality rather than raising it? To help decide I asked my calm collected childminder for her response.

It ended with

I bet you wish you hadn’t asked!

On the contrary, I’m pleased to say I’m not alone in questioning the proposals.

Well, I have 4 each day and I personally think it would be impossible to have 5 and give any good level of care. I am able to offer places to 4 as I have known the children a long time and they gel together very well. However if you had an unsettled child and were caring for 5 I think the others in the setting would suffer.

The report also states that the numbers of childminders have halved in the last 10 years. From my experience of training childminders when the EYFS was introduced in 2008, they were dropping in their droves because of the amount of admin and paperwork involved and the bureaucracy of  inspection.

This is echoed by my childminder

 …the so called revised EYFS isn’t less paperwork as they have now given childminders the job of doing the 2 year check previously done by the health visitors. Oh don’t get me started  !!!!  I either need to employ an office worker to do my paperwork or stop playing with the children in my care which is what I really enjoy.

I’m so lucky to have a childminder who puts the children first, affordability and quality – I’m not convinced you can have both.

You might also be interested in proposed changes to childcare ratios, for better or worse