Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Fears Rise over Shake-Up in Nursery Rules ; Increase in Staff-Child Ratios to Free Up Places Idea Is Unworkable Say Parents and Nurseries

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Fears Rise over Shake-Up in Nursery Rules ; Increase in Staff-Child Ratios to Free Up Places Idea Is Unworkable Say Parents and Nurseries

Article excerpt

PARENTS and nursery owners have hit out over plans for nursery staff to look after more young children.

The governmens t has proposed changes to staff-child ratios at nurseries, to increase the total number of places available.

But parents said they belies ved the plans meant children would not get enough attention - and were unfair on already low-paid staff.

Currently nursery staff are allowed to look after up to three children aged one or under, or four two-year-olds.

Under the new rules they will be able to look after six two- yearolds, or four younger children. Children's Minister Liz Truss said the higher adult-child ratios would apply to staff trained as specialist pre-school teachers, called early years educators, who must have grade C or above in English and maths at GCSE.

The rules will apply to both childminders and nurseries, while more schools would be able to offer early-years provision.

Many parents said the most important issue for them with childcare was the cost - and that they believed nurseries would be unlikely to put their prices down even if they did take on extra children.

Announcing the proposals, Ms Truss said: "I want a highquality, highly qualified workforce.

"I want their work to be underpinned by effective regulation and inspection that targets support where it is most needed - but I also want them to be trusted to use their professional judgement and experience.

"That is why we are encouraging nurseries to use their professional judgement and enjoy greater flexibility."

But Sheridan Waite, who owns ABC Happy Days Nursery on Royce Road in Hulme, Manchester, said: "These government proposals don't really match reality.

We are one of the cheapest nurseries in Manchester and a lot of our parents still struggle to afford to pay.

"We would love to have more staff who are more highly qualified but we would have to pay them more, and where would that money come from? …

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