OUTRAGEOUS – Early Years Minster unable to answer a straight forward question   3 comments

The following has been taken from They work for you site and having read it I am fuming.

Sharon Hodgson

To ask the Secretary of State for Education which (a) organisations and (b) individuals in England have made representations advocating changes to adult to child ratios in childcare settings, other than in response to the Childcare Commission call for evidence.

Elizabeth Truss

I have had numerous conversations about staff to child ratios in childcare settings with individuals and organisations in England, as have officials of the Department. These conversations revealed a wide range of views. There is a recognition that staff to child ratios have remained the same for decades, and have not kept pace with the significant changes in child care and early education we have seen in this country. This reinforces the case for reviewing those rules and considering greater flexibility for providers to deploy better qualified staff to meet children’s needs effectively.

Penny’s opinion

Sharon Hodgson’s was very clear, and required a specific response – ie WHO has said that changes to adult to child ratio’s are needed. WHO as in a person or persons names or the names organisations.

The EY Minister’s response was at best vague and worse an insult to all those who would really like an answer to the question asked by Sharon Hodgson.

Numerous  conversations – well yes – I would agree. These would include the questions asked by the DfE when they visited my setting for the day, the questions set for the discussions groups with childminders – many which I personally coordinated and gathered the responses to – and provided DfE with comprehensive feedback – of course these are only a few of those ‘discussions’ but I know the response was a huge NO to increased ratios.

It will include discussions with membership organisations – the very organisations that have signed this petition against increased ratios so a good guess that they will not have been part of discussion that were in favour of increased ratios

Truss says there were a wide range of views – what a clever way of saying NOTHING. Surely if the minster had a long list of names of people or organisations in favour of increased ratios – she would say so – even if not by name (for confidentiality reasons) she would have said something on the lines of ‘the majority’ or given a % figure. To say ‘a wide range’ means to me that one or two may have supported the idea!

Then she said ‘There is a recognition that staff to child ratios have remained the same for decades, and have not kept pace with the significant changes in child care and early education we have seen in this country’.

That appears to be a case of putting two bits of information together – that are not actually linked.

It is not a recognition that ratios have remained unchanged – it is a fact – and a fact that has a very good reason behind it. The early years sector as a whole understands the development needs of very young children.

Yes, there have been significant changes in childcare and early education – and that which takes place in non school settings is based on the current ratios and has built on knowledge and understanding for years of hands on practice and numerous research projects. I have yet to see a SINGLE bit of evidence to suggest that ‘to keep up the significant changes in childcare and education we need to increase ratios – in fact I have only seen evidence that suggests LOWER ratios.

In addition the whole early years sector acknowledges that children need time to be children and must have to the support of an adult as they explore and learn through play – that is an adult with the time to respond to each child as and when needed.

Significant changes have also been made in providing a safe environment and in safeguarding – again nothing I have read has suggested that these two issues will be improved by increasing ratios.

And finally the Minister says ‘This reinforces the case for reviewing those rules and considering greater flexibility for providers to deploy better qualified staff to meet children’s needs effectively’.

My response is HOW?

As a sector we are supportive of the idea for better qualified staff and indeed over many years many staff have achieved higher qualifications in their own time and sometimes at their own expense because they want to provide the best early years and education as the can to the children in their care.

AND that is why I know the vast majority of the early years sector do not support increased ratios – because their training, their qualifications, their vast combined experience can not think of a SINGLE good reason to support higher ratios.

It is simple really qualifications increases practitioners understanding of  how children learn, how they develop in all areas of learning – what is does not do is increase practitioners physical abilities to wipe more noses or bottoms, to cuddle more children, to evacuate more children in an emergency, to soothe more children to sleep, to support on a one to one basis for those all important early speech and language skills, to foster creativity,or encourage the characteristics of effective learning, to have conversations with more parents, to fill in more individual paperwork – oh and have time to support Independence skills like toileting, feeding self,  tidying up.

Nor do qualifications increase a practitioners ability to look after increased ratios and still take a lunch break, not to take work home or come in early to complete tasks left unfinished the day before.

A qualification helps with knowledge and in some professions this can lead to greater productivity – but not in childcare – and it seems in the ministers case higher qualifications  have not improved her ability to be be a more effective as a Minister – as she only can sit in one meeting at a time, only write one document at a time and it seems only listen to one view – hers.

I challenge Elizabeth Truss to prove me wrong – and to give the information that Sharon Hodgson has asked for – so the names of  (a) organisations and (b) individuals in England have made representations advocating changes to adult to child ratios in childcare settings.

Further more to give details of the research that proves that;

‘There is a recognition that staff to child ratios have remained the same for decades, and have not kept pace with the significant changes in child care and early education we have seen in this country. This reinforces the case for reviewing those rules and considering greater flexibility for providers to deploy better qualified staff to meet children’s needs effectively’.

I am so sure that the Minister can not provide this evidence that if she does I will not only apologise via this blog but I will also pay for a full page advert in Early Years Education and Nursery World to say I was wrong and I apologise for questioning the Early Years Minister.

I think my money is safe  WHY?

Because over 80,000 people have signed the three main petitions – and although I don’t know who has signed the other two petitions – I know that many leading experts, early years practitioners, parents, experts from other professions have signed the petition that I started – surely if the evidence was available to support the ministers ideas either the Minister herself or one of the leading early years experts – would have corrected me by now?

3 responses to “OUTRAGEOUS – Early Years Minster unable to answer a straight forward question

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  1. Bravo! Well said. Keep up the great work Penny there’s 80000 people out there fighting with you. 🙂

  2. Pingback: OUTRAGEOUS – Early Years Minster unable to answer a straight forward question | Debbie's Blog

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