By Gerald Heneghan
Nurseries and childminders in England will be permitted to look after more children under new childcare reforms set to be announced today (January 29th).
Children’s minister Liz Truss will unveil plans to raise the ratio of children to carers and introduce a set of new standards for carers’ qualifications.
Under the proposals, childcare workers would be required to meet a minimum standard of education. Ms Truss claimed that carers are not only responsible for a child’s wellbeing but also for their mental development
“With this in mind it is no longer acceptable that childcare professionals are not required to have a GCSE grade C or above in English and maths,” she said.
The minister’s plans would see a new Early Years Educator qualification introduced, which would enable nurseries to bolster their capacity and pay their workers better wages.
Ms Truss’s proposals came under fire from shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg, who warned that such measures would affect the quality of childcare in Britain.
“I think this is one area where we’ve actually got something to teach other countries. If you look at France, there’s actually quite a big public debate about whether they’ve got this right,” he told the BBC.
Earlier in the week, the coalition government was criticised for failing to protect 401 and one Sure Start childcare centres from closure.
“Before the election, David Cameron said he would protect Sure Start. But on his watch we have seen over 400 children’s centres shut down,” said shadow children’s minister Sharon Hodgson.
“Half of the centres that are left no longer provide onsite childcare and one in five are charging parents for services that used to be free.”
Image used courtesy of Dmitry Berkut / Shutterstock.com