Truss versus those who know about Early Years   5 comments

I was going to write another of my ‘Dear Ms. Truss’ letters – but thought – Why bother? She does not read them, I am even blocked from communicating with her via Twitter

And so instead, I thought I would do a blog about why she is wrong and many others are right.

Of course there have been numerous articles in the press and even more blogs about Truss’s ideas – a few have been supportive – but most have ‘ripped her ideas to shreds’

So just why does Ms. Truss think she knows anything about early years settings? Why does she think she can make decisions about the care and education of the children of this country?

Yes she is a mother – and a working mother – but she employs a nanny – so hardly brings her into contact with the early years settings that she proposing to impose new regulations on.

Yes she has spoken to a few early years practitioners, visited a few nurseries – but from the media coverage that I have read – these were supportive of her ideas – so hardly a good place to gather views.

Yes she has visited other countries to see for herself the differences between their systems and ours – but she seems to have ‘cherry picked’ the bits of information that support her ideas – but even then she has not done her research because the UK actually does better in terms of quality, affordability and accessibility than the countries she is comparing us to.

And she has  forgotten one rather large fact – children in these countries and many others start school and formal education much later – at 6 or even 7.

So maybe I am being unfair – maybe Ms.Truss has experience of early years – maybe she studied childcare, or worked in childcare?

So I took a look at Wikipedia to see what it said;

Truss attended a state primary school in Paisley, in Scotland,[5] followed by Roundhay School, a comprehensive school in north-east Leeds. She lived in Canada for a year, and contrasts the competitive attitude in schooling there with the ‘trendy’ education she received in Leeds.[5] Amongst her A-levels, Truss studied both Ordinary Maths and Advanced Maths.[8] She read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Merton College, Oxford.

After graduation in 1996, she worked for Shell as a commercial manager and Cable & Wireless as economics director, and became a qualified management accountant.[9] Truss became the deputy director of Reform in January 2008,[10] where she advocated more rigorous academic standards in schools, a greater focus on tackling serious and organised crime, and urgent action to deal with Britain’s falling competitiveness. She co-authored The Value of Mathematics[11] and A New Level[12] amongst other reports.

Truss was President of Oxford University Liberal Democrats and expressed anti-monarchist sentiments at the 1994 Liberal Democratsconference.[6][13] Truss joined the Conservative Party in 1996.[2] She served as the chairman of the Lewisham Deptford Conservative Association from 1998 to 2000.[2] She was elected as a councillor in the London Borough of Greenwich in 2006, standing down in 2010, shortly before the end of her term of office.

I read it twice – but no – nothing there to suggest that Truss has any knowledge or experience of early years. In fact she does not even have very many years experience in being an MP.

Of course I have been campaigning against Ms. Truss’s ideas for almost a year – but some might say – well what do you know?  It is true I do not know as much as some, but I have more experience and knowledge of the early years sector than Ms. Truss.

But then I don’t have a degree – and I don’t even have a maths GCSE  – so maybe that is why Ms.Truss is not bothering to take any notice of what I say – especially as I am a childminder – who Truss, Gove and Wilshaw have such a low opinion of.

So rather than write pages and pages about what I think – I thought I would add some of comments from the petition that I started on Thursday 24th January and that has already got nearly 20,000 signatures.

Just do an internet search for the names and you will see the people making the comments know what they are talking about

Neil Leitch                           CEO Pre-school Learning Alliance                                                                                                        In a recent survey of 600 members representing over 1000 settings, 94% stated the quality of childcare would be compromised if there was a relaxation in adult to child ratios.  Given than labour costs represent approximately 70% of overall expenditure, you would have thought providers would have openly welcomed the opportunity to reduce expenditure!   Despite almost universal rejection of these proposals by those who know best, it appears the voice of the sector continues to be ignored.

Denise Burke                     Good Care Guide                                                                                               deregulation isn’t the answer to cost of childcare, it will merely dilute quality

Melian Mansfield                             Chair ECEF at National Children’s Bureau                                                         It is of paramount importance that we ensure that the education and care of young children everywhere is of the highest quality. Reducing the ratio of adults to children will adversely affect any provision particularly for the most vulnerable children. We want all children to benefit from quality provision in order to offer them the  best start in life,  This where the government should be investing more money now. Early – and effective intervention and education saves money later.

Mary Dickins                                                                                                                                                                         I am concerned about all children but particularly concerned about disabled children and those with other forms of special educational need for whom ratios are a crucial factor

Prof John Siraj-Blatchford                            Contributor to C4EO EY work                                                   High quality early childhood education really matters

June O’Sullivan                                                  CEO London EY Foundation                                                             Wrong as will damage quality of provision for small children

Purnima Tanuku                                CEO NDNA                                                                                               Quality of childcare and early education must not be sacrificed. We welcome the commitment made by the government in More Great Childcare to build on and drive up quality in early years, but we are very concerned about suggestions to increase the number of children under three that nursery staff can care for. Strong adult:child interactions are vital for good child development. Even with higher qualifications staff will struggle to give  larger groups of under threes the individual attention and practical care they need.  Pay makes up around 70% of nursery fees and better qualified staff cost more to employ, so it seems likely savings made by employing fewer staff would be eclipsed by higher wages.  Resolving the funding difficulties in early years that push up the cost of childcare is critical and we look forward to seeing government proposals for funding reform.

Celia Burgess                     Ex Ofsted                                                                                                                                    I have spent all my professional life with young children, inspecting early years settings and with training teachers of young children at Goldsmiths and at the Institute of Education. This change to the child adult ratios goes against all the research evidence about the importance of attachment with caring known adults and one to one interaction, care and love. The more very young children a carer has to look after the less quality attention those children will receive.

Hannah Browne                              Child Psychiatrist                                                                                                               As a mother and a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist with a special interest in Infant Mental Health I know that higher staff children rations will be detrimental to children’s development

Mary Maureen Granger                                                                                                                                                                 I am an academic with extensive knowledge of infant attachment. I strongly believe that there is too little attention paid to quality interaction already without increasing ratios.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Shirley Mearing                           Mental Health professional                                                                                               As a mental Health professional I see many children and young people who are effected emotionally and mentally because of their fight to be seen and have attention, we should not be developing  a child care system for  our children where their early and crucial developmental years are spent struggling for attention and always waiting line.

Joy Mosley                                                                                                                                                                              Former childcare provider, educationalist, parent and grandparent- we must not change the adult to child ratio- so detrimental on the safety and nurturing of our children

Jools Page           Sheffield                                                                                                                                                  I am an academic who has been researching, teaching and working in the field of ECE. I firmly believe that caring for and educating our youngest citizens is an enormously important role. To increase the child to adult ratios undermines the role of childcare professionals and more importantly overlooks the holistic needs of babies and young children.

Helen Lawrence                 Ex Ofsted                                                                                                               As a retired teacher and OFSTED inspector as well as a parent and grandparent, I can not emphasise too strongly the crucial importance of early years care and education. Please take notice of this campaign!

Dr Richard House                                                                                                                                                            “This is about a ‘paradigm war’ over the future of our children’s early experience. If the government drives this abomination through against all the research evidence, it will be catastrophic for the well-being of England’s young children. Indeed, if they persist with this – ‘they ain’t seen nothing yet’…

Richard House, editor of ‘Too Much, Too Soon? – Early Learning and the Erosion of Childhood’, Senior University Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies”

Penny  Tassoni                  Early Years Author

I believe that it is an entitlement of  all young children in early years settings to have warm, personal  interactions with adults. This is essential for their emotional security, but also for their language and cognitive development. If these proposals take effect, we are likely to have a two tiered system whereby children of affluent parents are placed in settings with high adult- child ratios, but other children are left at a disadvantage

Andrew Clifford                                Managing Director  First Class Childcare LTD                                                          For those of us that genuinely care about the quality. we can provide and fully understand the needs of Early Years children, the very idea that a qualification means you can still provide that same quality to twice as many children is simply WRONG at best is misguided and at worst fails in our duty to these children.

Gill Haynes          EX NCMA                                                                                                                                            This government appears to have given up on the principle that ‘a child’s  welfare is paramount’. Who in their right mind could possible believe that changing ratios, without first changing regulations around qualifications and training, could ever be in the best interests of our youngest children.  I would not want my 2 year old grandson in a setting where there was only one adult to 6 toddlers.  He and the rest of his generation deserve better than this!

Nathan Archer

Lincolnshire Montessori hereby makes a commitment to our children and their families that we will not be compromised by this proposal and commit to maintaining the current ratios in pursuit of the best quality early years care and education we can provide.

Julian Grenier                                    Head teacher and Blogger                                                                  Worse ratios will mean worse care for children. I’ve set out my arguments on my blog (google me to read more)

Sue Greenfield London

In my role as Senior Lecturer Early Childhood Studies, I am sure that if ratios are increased, more pressure will be put on childminders and nursery workers who work very long hours for little money. The quality of care will not be maintained.

Sue Meekings                                                                                                                                                                          I am signing on behalf of the circa 900 strong workforce at The Childcare Corporation. We operate 20 nurseries and strive always to maintain the highest standards for the children and families in our care. This proposal undermines the very quality we and other early years providers are aiming for. The proposal is ill-concieved, ill-thought out and likely to be detrimental to the youngest members of our community. My colleagues and I have also noted that Ms Truss has carefully avoided the inevitable job losses this idea would generate at a time when finding employment is proving such a challenge to so many.

Jill Johnson                    Managing Director

As a nursery group we feel ratios are right to be low to enable quality care and education for all children.

Just a few of the comments left on the petition site – however there are more important comments

Those left by the early years practitioners who have carry out the day to day tasks of caring for the children. THOUSANDS of comments – all saying the same thing – they don’t want to change the ratios.

And even more important comments – in fact the most important of all the comments – those left by parents – the parents of the children that these ideas will have a major impact on – and they (and the children’s grandparents who are also commenting) do not want their children in settings where there are less adults to care for their children.

Take a look for yourselves

Please note this is the petition that is supported my NCMA and PLA and should not be confused with another petition started after this one and also using as the host, and being promoted by

The organisers of the other petition have been asked if they would join together to speak with one voice (on the day they launched their petition) but they did not want to.

It is a shame that they made that decision but to be honest it does not matter how we make the government listen – so if they can have any influence – I personally wish them luck with their petition.

Posted February 3, 2013 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

5 responses to “Truss versus those who know about Early Years

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  1. Interesting biography Penny… the reason for the obsession with Maths now becomes clear. Incidentally, I do have an ‘O’ level in Maths (Grade B) as well as English (Grade C) and I also have a level 4 Certificate in Early Years Practice (which is higher than the new ‘early years educator’ qualification that Ms Truss is proposing). So in theory I should be well-equipped to educate six 2 year olds at once, shouldn’t I? Well maybe… if I didn’t care about meeting the children’s personal, social and emotional needs… I might be.

    You are so right about Ms Truss ‘cherry picking’ or as I like to say ‘hearing what she wants to’. On 15th November 2012 Ms Truss attended a seminar hosted by The Foundation Years Action Group entitled ‘The vital importance of early development to later life outcomes’

    The following presentations were given:
    • The impact of early life environments on development by Professor Mary Target from University College London and the Anna Freud Centre
    • Three key reasons for early intervention by Dr John Jerrim, Institute of Education, University of London
    • Inequality in school readiness by Dr Elizabeth Washbrook, University of Bristol.

    And what conclusions did Ms Truss draw after attending this seminar?.. Well after sitting through 3 presentations telling her that detrimental early life environments, insecure attachments, and impoverished relationships with caregivers makes children unprepared for the start of school in cognitive, emotional and behavioural terms, Ms Truss concludes that the answer to this is to cram our youngest children into a smaller space with less staff, and more formal teaching methods…The mind boggles it really does!!!

    • Thank you Helen for that information – I wonder if Ms. Truss was listening at all.

      Clearly you were – and the information supported what you already knew – which is having the ‘right qualifications’ will not mean that you will take on more children.

  2. Pingback: 1:6 ratio for children aged 2 years

  3. Thank you Penny for the above.

    I have worked within the Childcare and education sector for 21 years.

    In that time I have seen changes to registration , governing bodies, safeguarding requirements learning and development models.

    I work a 10 hour day all year round and take just two weeks off a year. I know I will earn a maximum of
    £12 per hour (£4 hr my local rate) from 8am- 3pm then a maximum of £24 from 3-6pm…. But we all know its very hard work and extra expense collecting school age children when living in a semi rural area .

    I love my job, I am passionate about Childcare and child development – I am an Outstanding Childminder!!!

    The September changes to variance put me in control of my numbers – why are the media still harping on about ratio’s that have been changed 4/5 months a ago?!?

    Would I have 6 under 5 ? —— NO!

    Why, because even with my 8 seater car, quad buggy and reins in my opinion trips to the beach would become dangerous, trips to parks and even children centre activities- too dangerous. So I would be housebound, have more paper work in the evening….. Err na not for another £8 an hour that would be an accident waiting to happen!

    I have never complained about my job, it’s pay the hours. I doubt highly I will complain about my pay or hours in the future too.

    I am really miffed though by the way my profession has been targeted my the media who have tarred me as under qualified, money grabbing, leading the public to believe I am lazy. I have always been aware that I am probably under valued now the media are telling the public it’s ok to treat me this way.

    A domestic cleaner is paid more an hour than me and usually in cash

    Has anybody worked out the percentage of working families income taken up by their cleaners!
    Has anybody considered the percentage of working families income taken up by satellite TV, designer clothes, cars on finance!?!

    So as JUST a Childminder and working as only I know how – a game

    Whats my job?!?
    One of these jobs is deemed professional, reliable and honest enough to sign off passports, one of these jobs is deemed low and paid less than a domestic cleaner ( even though they do the cleaning too) and probably a low achiever at school

    Job description 1

    I earn at most £16 per hour ( local hourly rate)
    I teach for 10 hours a day – following EYFS – paid
    No lunch or coffee breaks from children
    I have approximately another 2 hours cleaning, planning recording – unpaid
    I don’t have a pension
    I fulfil all my required training for registration etc in my own time ( evenings or weekends) -unpaid
    I attend my local DQIS ( Dorset quality improvement scheme ) developing inclusion networking and support in my own time. – unpaid
    I have 2 weeks off a year unpaid
    I had 2 days off in 12 months ( noro virus so had to close) -unpaid
    I hold parent consultations in my time – unpaid
    I haven’t had a pay increase for 3 years

    What’s my job ….. Yes JUST a childminder

    Job number 2

    I have 12 weeks holiday each academic year – paid
    I have a pension – tax payers contribute to
    I get paid anything from £21k as an NQT to £50k + for managing post
    I have paid training days
    I teach for 6 hours a day following EYFS – paid
    I plan for approx 10hrs + a week – not paid
    I have an hour + for lunch and coffee – paid
    I get paid sick days
    I go on strike regularly when it looks like I’m not getting a pay rise or my pension contributions get cut – paid

    What’s my Job? …… Well done, yes I’m a Primary school teacher

    Game two- Role play

    Which words fit with which job description pretend to be –

    1a) a member of the media. 2a) a parent 3a) an MP

    Highly qualified, lazy, professional, admired, patient, valued, a great role model, jobs worth, union member, aspiring, inspirational, under qualified, low achiever

    Ok ok I’m being facetious

    Perhaps Penny as we are required to do the same work as teachers we should behave like teachers

    STRIKE ( just imagine the chaos!)

    What do we want

    More money – no !
    More holidays – no!
    A pension – no!

    I want respect from my MPs and the media
    I want to feel valued by my MPs and the media
    I want to be consulted by my MP’s

    That’s all !!! And I want it now!

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