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Over 20,000 sign petition against changes to adult to child ratios in early years settings

Article By: Sue Learner, News Editor

A total of 20,366 people have signed a petition against the proposed changes to adult to child ratios in early years settings.

Education Minister, Elizabeth Truss

The petition, which has grown rapidly since the change to ratios was announced, reveals the public’s mounting opposition over the childcare reforms.

The change to the ratios were announced by Education Minister, Elizabeth Truss in the Government’s report ‘More Great Childcare’ last week.

Under the changes, ratios for two-year-olds will increase from four children per adult to six children per adult, and for ones-and-under will rise from three children per adult to four children per adult. Ratios for three-year-olds and over will remain at eight or 13 children per adult, depending on whether a qualified graduate is present.

The Government is justifying the ratio changes by saying it will lead to a reduction in childcare costs for parents. However many in the childcare sector argue it will impact on the quality of care. In response to the reforms, childminder Penny Webb from Kiddiminster has launched a petition on the website, calling on the Government to drop the plans to change ratios.

The reforms were announced on 29 January and already 20,366 people have signed the petition.

In her petition, she said: “I have worked directly with hundreds of children over the years as a childminder and supported thousands more children through training and advising colleagues in all types of early years settings.

“During this time period there have been many changes in the world around us, but one thing has not changed and that is the adult to child ratios in early years settings. This is for good reason, as high adult to child ratios enable adults to form strong relationships with the children and provide opportunities for quality interaction, which are crucial for their well-being and development.”

She added: “Keeping children safe, providing food, toys, equipment, crafts and outings is expensive for both parents and childcare settings, but the answer to reducing childcare costs is not for child carers to look after more children as this will have an incredibly damaging impact on the thing that matters most - the quality of care of our children.”

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-School Learning Alliance is backing the petition. He said: “In a recent survey of 600 members representing over 1000 settings, 94 per cent 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 per cent of overall expenditure, you would have thought providers would have openly welcomed the opportunity to reduce expenditure!” He added: “Despite almost universal rejection of these proposals by those who ‘know best’ it appears the voice of the sector continues to be ignored.”

The petition can be found at:

You can vote on this controversial issue at


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