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The Department for Education’s Childcare Commission, which ran a consultation period between July and August in order to get the views of experts working in the sector, is due to report this autumn on plans to reduce childcare for working families and to alleviate the burden that providers currently face.
Voluntary sector provider the Pre-school Learning Alliance is hoping the Commission take note of the results of a survey they have carried out on staff to child ratios, in which day nursery and pre-school staff clearly state that the quality of their care would be compromised if staffing levels are reduced.
An overwhelming number of respondents – 94 per cent – believed the quality of their services would be at risk in such a scenario, while the survey also found that 91 per cent feel the contribution of regulator Ofsted is currently at an appropriate level in the early years sector.
The Alliance also criticises the Childcare Commission’s approach for failing to consult over the early years entitlement and for insisting on holding its consultation process at a time when many providers we’re on holiday.
Chief executive Neil Leitch comments: “There is a glaring omission at the heart of the Childcare Commission consultation – the failure to consult on the level of funding of the free early years entitlement.
“By not addressing this fundamental issue, the Government continues to put the emphasis on making up the shortfall on parents and providers, even though earlier this year the National Audit Office highlighted that early years funding should be reviewed.
“The Government is looking at ways to reduce the cost of childcare to parents. Despite the fact that there is a direct cost benefit to providers in changing the staff to child ratios, given that approximately 70 per cent of costs are staff salaries, our survey finds little support for this action, with the vast majority stating that quality of care would be compromised.
“We do not believe that having fewer staff to care for more children would reduce the financial burden on parents and providers as very few respondents indicated that they would adjust their charges accordingly, arguing that the additional revenue would go part-way to addressing the historic inadequacy of funding.
“The sector does not support deregulation either. Although concerns were voiced about the objectivity of Ofsted inspections, day nurseries and pre-schools still want and welcome Ofsted as their regulator and inspector.”