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Picnics for people concerned about childcare ratio changes ahead of London Early Years Foundation's day of action

Article By: Laura McCardle, News Editor

The Old Station Nursery is hosting drop in picnics so parents and staff can discuss their concerns over controversial proposals to change childcare ratios.

The events on Friday have been organised by the London Early Years Foundation ahead of its day of action, which will take place on International Children's Day on Saturday to raise awareness of the work done in the sector and to address anxieties about the changes.

The Government proposes to change the limit on the number of children practitioners can look after from four to six, and to increase the limit on caring for babies aged one and under from three to four. A Department for Education paper recently revealed a potential increased gross revenue of £200,000 for every nursery that implements the changes.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour’s shadow education minister Stephen Twigg have both expressed their concerns over the plans, which have come under fire from a number of organisations.

Sarah Steele, managing director of the Old Station Nursery, said: “There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the proposed changes to childcare ratios, but parents and those working in the field aren’t always in a position to talk about it with their peers and have their views heard.

“These picnics are about giving people the chance to have their say on something which could impact on both their working life and their family life.

“We want to show exactly what goes into caring for children, which is why we’re hosting the events at our settings.

“It’s also a chance to show the Government why it’s so important that we don’t make swift changes to an established and well thought of system without first consulting the sector involved.”

June O’Sullivan, chief executive of the London Early Years Foundation, said: “Early years staff are unwilling to remain downtrodden and ignored when we contribute significantly to supporting the national economy and to the wellbeing of children. We need to highlight these issues and make our voices heard.”

The events have recieved support from the Professional Association for Childcare and the Early Years (PACEY). Catherine Farrell, joint chief executive of the organisation, said: "I wholeheartedly agree with June's arguments and think more must be done to ensure there is a balanced discussion in the media. For too long it has been one-sided and PACEY therefore welcomes this move to open up debate on the proposed changes.

"June's point about acting as calm, grown up and informed adults is key. It is vital to consult and listen to everyone affected by these changes. With such an important debate there will always be different ideas and suggestions put forward so we must work together to challenge assumptions and ensure everyone recognises the long-term implications of the proposed changes."

On Friday picnics will take place at Newark’s Old Station Nursery from 1.30pm and at settings in Filkins, Henley-on-Thames and Innsworth from 3.30pm. An event will also be held at the Faringdon branch on Tuesday at 3.30pm.


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