Statement post debate 14/11/21
Our day in Parliament, following a petition of 109,488 signatures against the relaxation of early years ratios.
Monday's debate showed us that, alongside the 109,488 petitioners from the Early Years sector and parents, we have overwhelming support from MPs that this ratio proposal is totally unwanted.
There is no factual evidence to suggest it is safe and beneficial for children and practitioners alike.
Arguments raised included those that have been highlighted before - including only 2% of settings surveyed suggesting that savings could be passed onto parents, and as ever the question regarding child safeguarding and welfare was always present. A significant point made was that a 2 in 8 ratio could easily become a 1 in 7 if there was a child that required 1 to 1 care, as well as the fact that toilet training at that crucial age of 2 years old would cause practioners to need to leave the room, further diluting the attention provided.
As Catherine McKinnell MP stated in her opening remarks, comparisons to other countries' ratios is akin to comparing apples with pears. Evidence from the Netherlands suggests that their own ratio of 1 to 8 does not work, further proven with a strike held by Early Years Educators within the country. Whilst the Government consider Scotland's 1 to 5 ratio to be appropriate here in England, it is clear that the Scottish Government place a much greater value on the training and professionalism of Early Years providers compared to that within England.
We are disappointed in the Government's non-committal response and we now eagerly await the publication of the results of the consultation regarding ratios. It is clear that the Government have yet to produce credible evidence that a change in childcare ratios would be safe and beneficial to the development and wellbeing of children in England.
We are also saddened that the Government has not taken into account the mental health of the workforce in suggesting changing ratios to 1:5 for over 2 year olds. We feel that the Government unchallenged would have ploughed on with this change and simply expected an already stretched, underfunded, underpaid workforce to simply 'get on with it'.
We extend our thanks to the Petitions Committee, Carolyn Harris MP (chair), Catherine McKinnell MP, Steve Brine MP, Justin Tomlinson MP, Siobhan Baillie MP, Robin Walker MP, Helen Hayes MP, Tulip Siddiq MP, David Simmonds MP, Munira Wilson MP, Vicky Ford MP, Peter Gibson MP and Claire Coutinho MP (minister for children, families and wellbeing within the Department for Education) for attending the debate.
We would also like to thank the Early Years Alliance, PregnantThenScrewed, National Day Nurseries Association, LEYF Nurseries, PACEYChildcare, EYTagteam, NurseryWorld and every organisation and individual who signed and shared our petition on social media.
Our fight remains strong until the Government abolishes the planned changes to ratios. Children cannot be placed under increased risk in a candid attempt to try and save money.
Quality of care, education and wellbeing of children must be forefront.
Lewis & Zoe Steeper