The Government has confirmed it will consult on relaxing the childcare ratio for two year olds.
The Government is to consult before the summer on changing and relaxing the childcare ratio for two year olds so that one member of staff can look after five rather than four children at the same time.
Children and families minister Will Quince said he had “considered the childcare ratio question carefully and put safety and quality first”.
“This proposal is about giving providers greater flexibility,” he tweeted. “Some were pushing me to go further on ratio reform, but I’ve been clear from the start that I would not compromise on safety or quality.
“This consultation is just the start of the journey. We have some of the best early years provision in the world, and I’ll continue exploring how we can be ambitious for working parents – improving flexibility and reducing the cost of childcare.”
Neil Leitch, CEO of the Early Years Alliance, said: “The government knows full well that the sector is opposed to this ludicrous, pointless and potentially dangerous policy – so why it is wasting time asking a question it already knows the answer to?
“How often have we heard ministers talk about the importance of quality early education? How often have they stressed how vital it is to close the gap between poorer children and their wealthier peers which already exists by the time they reach primary school? Today’s announcement has shown all that up for what it really is: hollow, empty rhetoric.”
He added: “We have a sector on its knees, with underpaid, overworked early years professionals doing their best to care for and educate children who, after spending most if not all of their lives under pandemic restrictions, need more individual care and education than ever before. The ignorance and short-sightedness that would lead anyone to suggest relaxing ratios as a solution to the problems our sector faces is frankly mind-boggling.
“We know that the vast majority of providers won’t change how they operate, regardless of any rule changes, so this policy won’t even deliver the savings to parents ministers are claiming it will. But even a tiny minority of providers who feel they have no choice but to relax ratios could put the safety and wellbeing of young children at those settings at unacceptable risk.”