Government plans to remove ratios for after-school clubs

The Government is planning to remove ratios on the number of staff needed to work with reception-aged children in before and after-school clubs, or holiday clubs.

It has published its response to a consultation on childcare regulation which states that it plans to remove staff qualification and ratios requirements for registered providers other than childminders which offer care outside the school day or in school holidays for children attending reception class.

It says this will ensure consistency between requirements for these providers and providers of similar care for older children and the requirements that govern these children during the school day. It says it will also extend the 1:13 ratio for children aged three and four from 8am to 4pm to any time when a teacher is working with children in this age group.

The Pre-school Learning Alliance has criticised the plans, saying one member of staff could be expected to look after as many as 30 children, compared to the current minimum ratio of 1:8.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance said: “Not content with having to reverse the original proposals put forward last year – where there was overwhelming opposition from parents, the sector and anybody who has studied child development – the government continues to refuse to accept the wisdom of others, and so once again we have a consultation that is anything but. Only 16% of those who responded supported these proposals, while many argued that these plans would have a detrimental impact on the quality of out-of-hours care – and yet policy-makers have seen fit to proceed regardless.

“During the ratios debate last year, the government’s main argument was that ratios could be relaxed as long as staff were highly qualified – so how exactly can they justify removing not only ratio requirements, but also minimum staff qualification requirements for out-of-hours care?

“The government may try and paint these proposals as a removal of “red tape” and “unnecessary bureaucracy”, but these regulations are in place for good reason. This is yet another example of a policy which is all about cheap childcare and puts children right at the bottom of the list of priorities.”

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