Fears over change to childcare ratios in Swindon
NURSERIES in Swindon have reacted with scepticism to Government plans allowing them to look after more children, and said they do not intend to adopt the changes.
In order to reduce costs for families, nurseries that employ carers with a higher standard of qualification will be able to look after more children for every staff member from August.
Many Swindon nurseries agree with the intentions of the Government plans but do not believe they will really be successful.
“I don’t understand how the changes will both cut costs as well as raise the quality,” said Jo Morris, the manager of Playsteps Nursery, in Church Place.
“If something like that existed we would have bought it in already.
“With the growing population of young children we need to do something.
“We support the drive to improve quality but are not sure whether this is the way.
“At the moment we have no plans to make any changes until we see what effect they have.”
A major concern is that any benefit gained from increased qualifications will be lost with a reduction in the number of carers for every child.
The plans will allow a carer to look after four children aged one or under (currently three) and six children aged two (currently four).
While concerns have been raised nationally about children’s safety, Swindon nurseries are also worried about the impact the changes will have on children’s education.
“Each group of children is different and some will not cope well in larger groups,” said Annette Head, manager of Headstarts nursery, in Moredon.
“The ratios are there for a reason. Improved qualifications do not necessarily mean a carer can deal with more children.”
Another issue that has been raised is the possibility that families will not see the huge savings promised.
Busy Bees, which has several nurseries in Swindon, believes the savings could be as little as £3.50 week for some.
“In our opinion the childcare voucher system is the most effective way of helping working parents save money,” said John Woodward, CEO of Busy Bees.
However, the company has welcomed the proposals as a way of starting a discussion on how to improve standards within the industry.
“We welcome discussions the report will raise,” said Marg Randles, Busy Bees’ managing director.
“It is essential that we – Government, local authorities childcare providers and schools – come together as one body, and combine innovation with ‘hands-on’ experience in order to manage the implementation of any changes that have been outlined in the report to the benefit of both children and parents.”
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