NDNA respond to Government’s ratio consultation findings

The Government has published the findings of their consultation into changing adult:child ratios for two-year-olds. It found that the majority (70%) would be unlikely to change their provision if ratio requirements were relaxed, of which 45% saying they would be very unlikely.

Despite the overwhelming response from the sector, the Chancellor announced changes to the regulations, moving from a 1:4 ratio to 1:5 in his budget speech.

The official statement on the changes read: “The Government recognises that although most respondents to the consultation disagreed with the proposal on 2-year-old ratios, there was agreement from a number of respondents.”

The report revealed five main themes from the sector for rejecting the changes:

  1. concerns for the overall quality of provision in group-based settings
  2. staff workload, wellbeing, recruitment and retention implications
  3. concerns for child wellbeing, development and progress
  4. failure to address the current and most pressing challenges in the early years sector
  5. concerns that any financial savings made by setting owners, as result of introducing the proposal, would not be passed onto parents/carers.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), said: “The overwhelming majority of respondents to this consultation did not want the 1:5 ratios to be put in place for two-year-olds. This chimes with feedback from our own nursery members.

“Childcare providers do not want to reduce the quality of provision they offer two-year-olds who need more support than ever, not less. Their staff are already stretched and pressured due to the workforce crisis and expanding the ratios could potentially have a negative impact on child safety.

“The Government recognised that only 7 to 12% of all settings with two-year-olds said it would save any money at all. Nurseries will now have to deal with parents’ expectations that their childcare costs will be reduced even though most have told us they won’t be altering the ratios.

“As the Government looks to expand funded places for two-year-olds with 30 hours places being brought in from April 2024, it’s absolutely vital that funding is based on existing ratios, on what providers are actually delivering, what parents want and not on unrealistic ratios. With many more young children poised to take up their places next year, the two-year-old funding will have a much bigger impact on settings.

“The Government has not listened to the majority of providers and parents who responded to this consultation. A lot of expertise and experience has gone into those submissions and for the Government to write that off is a worrying precedent for the rest of their early education and childcare policy approaches.”

A small percentage (19% of all group settings) of respondents were likely or very likely to make changes to their provision, but only between 7-12% said it would mean any reduction in fees to parents at all.

The Government continued to say: “The vast majority of respondents to the consultation responded to this question and whilst a very small number agreed with the proposals, most respondents disagreed with the proposals. This was a consistent finding across all of the different types of respondents, such as parents, group-based providers and organisations representing the sector.”

In total 842 providers (85 school based providers, 589 group based and 168 childminders) responded to questions on the likelihood to change rations, the impact on delivery, and the financial impact.

The make-up of respondents was as follows:

  • 9,813 parents
  • 1,190 group-based providers on the early years register
  • 608 maintained nursery schools
  • 552 childminders
  • 366 primary schools with nursery provision
  • 504 organisations providing childcare
  • 166 local authorities
  • 130 charities
  • 16 membership organisations
  • 7 Ofsted
  • 1 childminder agency

The changes are set to be introduced in Sept 2023 subject to parliamentary procedure.

Read the consultation report here

Read the Government’s response here

  • England
  • Adult:Child Ratios
  • Chancellor

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