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

One thought on “Will Changing Ratios for Childminders Improve Quality?”

  1. Hi

    I am in Canada and the ratios are 6 to 1, but all 6 can be under 5 and in a nursery setting the ratio is 8 to 1, I look after 8 3/4 all day, and we manage it very well, so 5 to 1 would be ok, if all were toddlers or pre-schoolers, not so sure on the babies and toddler mix, but it can be done safely, if you are organized and have set boundaries. Daisy


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