Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Trussed up!

Back in January, I asked “What has the government got against parents and children?[1]

I pointed out that
  • parents with 2 newborns will get a £1,700 Toddler Tax, because of cut changes to tax credits, maternity grants and child benefit this April and next
  • 401 Sure Start Children’s Centres have closed since 2010, despite David Cameron and Nick Clegg both promising that they would back Sure Start
  • there had already been a 40 per cent cut in the budgets to train nursery staff, and more cuts are to come later this year, and
  • the government was proposing that the childcare staff:child ratios for two-year-olds should be increased from 1:4 to 1:6, while the ratio for under-twos should rise from 1:3 to 1:4 in nurseries.

Since then, in response to those childcare proposals, influential parent groups Mumsnet and Netmums have both added their support to the growing campaign[2] to stop Ministers increasing the number of children nursery staff and childminders can care for, after overwhelming opposition to the plans from their members.

Their intervention follows that of Professor Cathy Nutbrown - the Head of Education at Sheffield University, who was commissioned by the Government itself to advise on improving the quality of childcare – as she became the latest expert to describe the plans as “nonsense”. She said the proposals would “lead to worse, not 'great' childcare…”[3]

She joined Professors Helen Penn and Eva Lloyd, who had been commissioned to write a report on childcare costs which has been buried by the Government, warning that “increasing ratios would reduce the quality of care and create potential safety issues.”[4]

When the Childcare Minister Liz Truss, backed by DPM Nick Clegg, launched these proposals, she said “I have seen too many chaotic [childcare] settings, where children are running around. There’s no sense of purpose.”[5] Now we learn that, since she became the Childcare Minister in 2012, she has only visited 2 nurseries, both close to her Westminster office and both praised by OFSTED.[6]

What a disgrace; they should both be trussed up!