Cygnets Joins the Day of Action

Across the Country on 1st June there has been a call for a day of action to protest about government proposed changes in the Early Years sector. We will not be taking to ‘the streets’ but trying to get our voice heard, talking with as many people as possible about the quality of what we do, why it should not be diluted to suit politicians and what is wrong with our system.

We are professionals who have trained for a job we are passionate about, in some cases over a considerable number of years and have a wealth of experience. It is wrong to say that anyone can and does do our job; we have very well qualified staff teams, meeting and exceeding government targets and no-one is ever taken on as a trainee unless they can undertake relevant qualifications.

New Early Years trained teachers should be able to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) like other trained teachers, if the entry requirements are the same and the training is as rigorous, and existing teachers or Early Years Professionals should be able to top up their training with classroom skills and specialist subject knowledge to gain the status. Early years teachers will not be given this opportunity under the new proposals which means their salaries will continue to be considerably lower than teachers with QTS working in maintained schools. This also justifies payment of Nursery Education funding (NEF) at a much lower rate to non-maintained settings.

Our staffing ratios are as good as we can make them appropriate for the different ages, including time for planning and reporting on children’s learning, to ensure they make the best progress. Children need lots of attention but it has been proposed that if better-qualified staff work with bigger groups of children then we will be able to increase salaries. Better qualified staff would be wasted in such situations as they would only be able to look after the children, rather than putting in the teaching and guidance they need to learn effectively in teacher led and child initiated playful activity.

We will not be changing our staff to child ratios whatever is decided. It is debatable, especially with 2 year olds, whether 1 adult can safely care for 6 children. In a group of 12 children if 1 was being toileted the ratio for the remaining children would be 1:11and what if a child was sick, had a temper tantrum or otherwise needed attention how much care would be given to the other children. What happens in other countries will not directly translate to our culture; we are not French, Dutch or Scandinavian and examples given by our minister are only of what appears to work in very different systems. Better qualified staff are not the only determinant of quality, having good numbers of well-motivated staff are also very important.

Our charges are as low as possible with around 80% or more of income needed to cover our staff costs but we appreciate the cost to you of childcare is too high. There has been much talk of ratio changes lowering the cost to families but it cannot be brought down to a reasonable level in this way. We would have to pay staff better to look after more children so there would be no saving made and worse the quality of our provision would suffer. We are suspicious of the very large sums quoted of government investment in education and suspect that much is channelled away from early years as budgets are not protected. There needs to be much better direct funding to settings of NEF and other measures to ensure that charges made for all other types of childcare are heavily subsidised proportional to family income.

Please join us in making our voice heard & sign the e petition:

www.pre-school.org.uk/rewindonratios