Survey shows widespread opposition to relaxing childcare ratios

A Pregnant Then Screwed poll shows widespread parental opposition to relaxing childcare ratios – a policy which comes into effect today – with concerns including worries about education quality and increasing stress on an already overstretched workforce.

Children at nursery raising their hands


Parents are opposed to the Government’s decision to increase ratios in nurseries, which a Pregnant Then Screwed poll showing 98% are against it.

The poll comes on the day the plan to increase ratios in nurseries from 1:4 children to 1:5 children for two-year-olds in England comes into effect despite widespread opposition expressed in its consultation earlier in the year.

For 38% of parents their top worry is that the quality of childcare will be affected, while 15% put increased pressure on the workforce as their main concern.

One parent commented: “We have had several good staff leave our son’s nursery and are told it’s very hard to recruit due to pay and working conditions. We are lucky that our nursery is looking to hire very good staff, but the turnover is concerning, and I don’t know how they are going to manage.”

Another parent said: “The carers at our son’s nursery are so incredible, but lately seem so stressed, and it’s heartbreaking to see. There also has been a constant turnover of staff, causing our son to be anxious and unsettled. He loves nursery, but the constant changes cause him to worry. The staff say they have to leave either for their mental health or because they can’t meet the costs of caring for their own family.”

The Government introduced the change amid concerns about rising childcare bills, although providers say it will make little different to nursery fees.

Lauren Fabianski, Head of Campaigns and Communications of Pregnant Then Screwed, said: “The decision to increase ratios in nurseries shows just how out of touch the government is with childcare in Britain. This is not a solution to years of systemic underfunding. All that changing ratios will achieve is increasing stress levels in a sector that is already struggling to hire and retain its staff, and it could compromise the quality of care that children receive. Earlier this year the government completed a consultation into ratios which concluded that most respondents across the sector disapproved with the proposals We need the government to listen to parents, nursery workers and early years specialists and get childcare right.”

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said:“The fact that 98% parents are opposed to ratio changes once again proves that the government’s decision to implement these plans are entirely nonsensical. 

“We know that the only thing ratio changes will achieve is a worsening of quality and a compromise to safety. Why then, when both providers and families are clearly opposed has the government decided to charge ahead regardless?

“What’s more, our own research shows that most providers will not even implement changes, showing this policy has been a complete waste of time and money.

“At the Alliance, we remain fully opposed to these ratio changes and will continue to ensure that this ludicrous and frankly senseless policy is reversed as soon as possible.”

*Read our explainer on the ratios and why they matter here.

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