14/08/2014 16:50 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Childcare Class Sizes: Why The Changes Won't Help

childcare class size changes

Great news, everyone. Childcare costs are going to fall by as much as 28.

Apparently, this could allow nurseries to reduce their fees from £4 an hour to £2.88 an hour – a reduction of 28. Think about your child's nursery. Say it currently has 30 pre-school children. Would you want 45 children running around in the same sized classroom, with the same space for tables and chairs, with the same number of toilets, and the same sized playground?

Close your eyes, and imagine the noise. Imagine the chaos... Nurseries aren't just limited by the size of their staff. They're limited by the size of their BUILDINGS. Oh well, we can always just cram the kids into a few prefab huts in the playground. Job done.

If nurseries want to increase their ratios, and make bigger profits, but they can't take any more children in because they don't have enough space, what do you think they'll do? Make staff redundant, obviously. That's not terribly marvellous, is it?

Nursery staff are not very well paid. It would be nice if they were paid better, wouldn't it? It's quite an important job, looking after our children, isn't it? The Department for Education's own figures show that if staff salaries were to go up, this 'extra revenue' generated by the ratio changes will only cut parents' costs by 12 a year, more than double the rate of inflation, while nursery staff wages are standing still.

Even if it were TRUE that your nursery fees were going to fall by 28% (and it isn't; see above) would you really want your child looked after by so few members of staff? Would you want your three-year-old in a group of 26 children with just two adults? Particularly given that if any children are outdoors, one adult has to be outdoors too. Think about it.

Again, imagine the noise. Imagine the chaos.

Luckily, many childcare providers are sensible and wouldn't even want to drastically increase their ratios. They HAVE imagined the noise and the chaos. No childminder in their right mind would want to look after six under-fives single-handedly. Would you?


A survey carried out by IPPR found that three quarters of childminders wouldn't increase the number of children they cared for, if ratios were changed. Many nurseries aren't keen either. For good reason.


The trouble is, if the sensible nurseries and the sensible childminders don't want to drastically increase their ratios, there will still probably be some which do, creating a two-tier system. Nurseries with more staff will be able to charge even more. Parents who want the best childcare for their children will have to shell out even more.

So, as you can see, there are a few tiny little problems with these proposals. The good news is that there is now some opposition to them from within the coalition Government, and there might have to be some sort of compromise thrashed out.

The bad news is that it'll probably still make things worse...

What do you think?