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Packing more children into childcare settings compromises provision

Commenting on the release of the Government report into early years provision ‘More Great Childcare’ Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers' union, said: 

"No one doubts the importance of high-quality, affordable childcare.  

"Childcare costs to parents in this country are among the highest in the industrialised world. Many parents are excluded from re-entering the labour force after the birth of their children as the price required to pay for childcare is often prohibitive.

"Nevertheless, undermining adult to children ratios for the care of children up to the age of three, as the Coalition Government proposes, is hardly the most effective means by which this problem can be addressed.  

"Seeking to drive down costs by packing more children into childcare settings compromises the quality of provision that is essential to the learning and development of the very youngest children.

"The NASUWT has called consistently for more effective action to be taken to enhance the skills of the early years workforce and to improve the often highly unattractive pay and conditions of staff in the sector. However, planning to seek to secure higher qualification and pay levels within the workforce by sacrificing appropriate adult to children ratios is a flawed strategy.  

“It is more likely that any increased revenues gained by reducing ratios will simply be diverted to increasing profit margins rather than to enhancing the pay and conditions of staff and the quality of provision for children.

"The simple fact is that in many of the countries cited by the Government, such as France, the costs of childcare are broadly comparable with those in England. The critical difference is that the level of state support for childcare is much higher, thereby reducing the price that parents are required to pay. 

“As long as the Government insists that by far the greater part of childcare costs are met by parents, accessing it will remain impossible for many families.”

 

Chris Keates at Labour Party Conference Fringe