So Ms. Truss is continuing to look abroad for the answers..   9 comments

It seems that Ms. Truss is indeed considering a wide range of ideas and models to try to come up with an answer to the ‘goal’ she set herself ….

…. that of reducing cost of childcare to parents / increasing the pay of early years workers / improving quality via better qualifications / attracting more people into becoming early years practitioners.

Truss has been making further statements which appeared on the’ Conservative Home’ website

Elizabeth Truss MP – Going French – style

It seems that the Dutch model is still in the running but also the French model, the common denominator being … yes you guessed right – increased ratio’s.

The only good thing about this latest spiel is that maybe other early years sectors will be as concerned as the childminding sector – because up to now although the major organisations within the early years sector have all being expressing concern over Ms. Truss’s comments and suggestions – the rank and file of early years practitioners have to a large extent been unaware or not concerned because it appeared that childminders were the main target of Ms. Truss’s comments.

Now as can be seen by clicking on the above link – Ms. Truss is seriously considering increasing ratio’s in all types of settings.

My views about looking after 5 under fives in a childminder setting are well known – and there are many blog posts  about it on this blog – the main one being about ‘The reality of looking after 5 under 5’s’ – if you have not read it I suggest you take a look.

I am not an expert on ratio’s in pre-schools or day nurseries as I don’t work in them – but I know enough from my time as a quality assurance assessor (all early years sectors), my time as LA staff and indeed my time past and present as a volunteer for the Pre- school Learning Alliance to know that things are not very different to that in childminding settings – increasing ratio’s can SOMETIMES work in the short term to meet specific needs of families or children, but long term it is draining, it limits opportunities, it can put children at risk of harm – and it has to be said with certain ages and or combinations of children – it just won’t work.

I believe that Ms.Truss has consulted with practitioners in this country – and indeed  a member of DfE staff visited my setting and fed back to Ms.Truss BUT I have a feeling (and just a feeling rather than actual knowledge) that Ms. Truss is taking more notice of those from other countries than she is of those in this country – people like me, like the membership organisation, like practitioners who know because they do the job day in, day out.

I am not against research, I am not against exploring ideas, I am not against change ……

……but I am against;

  • ideas that are not thought through
  •  information from others that  is ‘cherry picked’ so only the supporting facts are presented – and the facts that do not support the idea or model are not even mentioned
  • ideas that are not  debated by those that it will impact on,
  • that the ‘way forward’ is decided by those in power not those on the ‘ground floor’.

And by’decided by those on the ground floor’ –  I don’t mean just a select few giving input, I don’t mean carefully worded consultations  that are designed to gather the answer required through limited choices of responses and tick boxes.

I mean full and open debate and consultation – with more than 50% response and if that % is not gathered at the first attempt – then a second and if needed a third attempt should be made to gather the views of those on the ground floor.

The other aspect of Ms.Truss’s article is the matter of cost


It is expensive bringing up children – so it does cost a large % of a parents income – a recent report said that a parent would have to work for 4 months just to cover childcare costs.

But that means the parent will have 8 months pay left

I notice that we don’t see reports about how much it costs to feed a child or cloth a child in terms of months pay – it is accepted that parents should bear these costs.

So why is childcare different?

Why is no one quoting how many months pay it costs me (and my childcare colleagues) to provide childcare?

Why is no one saying that actually childcare practitioners often have less in their pockets at the end of the month than the parents who use their service.

Why is no one suggesting that parents work longer, take on more duties and so work harder to increase their pay?

Before an army of parents feel they must comment about my anti parent comments – I must stress I am not anti parents

I actually think the government should support parents with the cost of childcare – in fact in a recent article in Child Care magazine I said I thought the government should fund universal free childcare (that is for all children) and use the tax system to claw back some of it from the highest earners, and make savings from getting rid of the expensive to administer tax credit and other benefits systems.

What I am objecting to is the idea that as a childcare provider I  should;

  • work longer (the more children you have – the more paperwork hours are needed and these are usually carried out AFTER the childcare setting closes for the day)
  • be expected to work harder – increased ratio’s are hard work especially long term.
  • have to take responsibility for keeping more children safe from harm – when my own risk assessment says that the more children there are the harder this is to do.

In a nutshell I am against the government using me as a means to solve their problems.

I want to give children the best possible start in life, parents want their child to have the best possible start in life.

It seems to me that the government just want a quick fix to save THEM money., and are prepared to see parents struggle and childcare practitioners struggle, in order to do this.

Children are our future, we all have a responsibility towards the children in this country – and high quality childcare is expensive. Increasing ratio’s will not make it cheaper – and in the long run could end up being a lot more expensive.

The government puts huge amounts of money into providing a school place for every child  – why does it not provide every child with a early years place.

School places are funded through the tax system – all tax payers pay towards the education of the countries children  – maybe I am missing the point – but why can’t childcare places be funded in the same way?

Posted January 8, 2013 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

9 responses to “So Ms. Truss is continuing to look abroad for the answers..

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  1. regardless of the changes they bring in to increase ratios I will NOT take any more numbers on……..having 4 for 1 hour over lunch time is stressful (although after 12 weeks and getting to know them it has got easier) I gave up my 9-5 job because of red-tape to become self employed and make my own decisions (although I soon realised even then it wasn’t my decision as I have to take the kids wishes into account) I would only have extra for cross over periods as I currently do

    • A lot feel the same Rachael – those that actually look after children realise that short term and things like cross over periods is one thing – long term is a different matter.

  2. Swedish tax payers pay for early years, have done for a long time

  3. The last day I worked before Christmas I cared for four children (all who I have looked after for at least a year) for just three hours. This is not something I would wish to do on a regular basis (and I had help from my hubby who is my assistant). Yes I coped and in fact was easier than when I have just one in but I can honestly say while I could do it I wouldn’t be giving the quality service I do normally

    • I agree with your comments Kate – especially the last sentence – mosdt childminders could care for more children but the quality of service, the opportunities provided would not be the same.

  4. Totally in agreement with you, letting more children be minded per carer is leaving the whole childcare system up for exploitation, Most CM’s mind to their full space capacity already in my view and give a quality service for the right amount of children already.
    It is about time Ms Truss talked to the real people involved the actual CM’s.

  5. lets face facts for years this government and every government before them under invested in early years education. Perhaps they need to make a simple funded system where every childcare cost is solely based on the parents income, should a parent choose to send them to childcare. The french system takes children from 3 which is funded by the state…

    • I completely agree – it is the years of under funding that have created the mess we are currently in.

      It does need sorting – but not at practitioners expense and not at children’s expense.

      The French system and the Dutch system – and in fact most system have benefits and disadvantages, we can learn from them of course – but it is silly to think that we can just take someone else’s system and implement it here. Our history is different and therefore our culture, our expectations and our needs.

  6. Pingback: Lets join together to tell the government what we think « Penny's Place Childminding

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