Department for Education: Response to Proposed Childcare Ratios Change (Sept 2022)
Date Posted: Tuesday 11th April 2023
The Women’s Budget Group submitted a response to the Department of Education (DEF) in September 2022 on the proposed changes to staff:child ratios.
The Women’s Budget Group strongly disagrees with the proposed change to the current statutory minimum staff:child ratios in England for 2-year-olds from 1:4 to 1:5.
- High quality early education is strongly linked to high adult to child ratios. Since COVID studies have highlighted the increase in the educational attainment gap between poor children and their wealthier peers. High quality early years is vital in addressing this gap before children start school. Increasing the number of children that each adult is responsible for decreases their ability to create child-centred, personalised interventions that support every child’s development and identify opportunities for early intervention and support.
- The Early Years sector is facing a staffing crisis. Large numbers of professionals are leaving the sector due to the low pay/ high stress working environment. It is irresponsible to implement a policy that will increase the pressure on a workforce that is already in crisis.
- Rather than small tweaks that risk further damaging an already fragile essential service, we advocate for an independent comprehensive review of early years education and care, working with stakeholders including childrens rights organisations, parent’s groups, early years professionals and their unions, childcare providers, employers and local government. It will be vital for government departments with responsibilities for education, business, leveling up and gender equality to engage with this independent review as all these departments have a stake in a high quality, affordable, accessible and sustainable early years sector.
High quality, accessible and affordable early childhood education and care is essential social infrastructure, with the potential to deliver significant leveling-up benefits for children, families, the economy and wider society. High-quality childcare
- helps to narrow the attainment gap between children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and their more advantaged peers, reducing inequalities and creating benefits that last throughout a child’s time in school and beyond.
- removes barriers to employment, particularly for women, who are still disproportionately responsible for unpaid care reducing the gender pay gap and
improving household incomes.
- creates low-carbon jobs which are distributed in a more equal way geographically than in other sectors due to the need for childcare in every town and
city across the country.