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Will Quince confirms plans to consult on increasing two-year-old ratios

By Rachel LawlerWill Quince children and families minister early years ratios

Children and families minister Will Quince has confirmed that the government is "consulting on mirroring the Scottish model" for early years ratios.

Writing on Twitter, he said that this means early years providers working to a "maximum ratio of one to five instead of one to four" for children aged two.

Quince added: "This proposal is about giving providers greater flexibility. Some were pushing me to go further on ratio reform but I’ve been clear from the start that I would not compromise on safety or quality. This consultation is just the start of the journey. We have some of the best early years provision in the world, and I'll continue exploring how we can be ambitious for working parents - improving flexibility and reducing the cost of childcare."

Sector opposition
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: "The government knows full well that the sector is opposed to this ludicrous, pointless and potentially dangerous policy - so why it is wasting time asking a question it already knows the answer to?

“How often have we heard ministers talk about the importance of quality early education? How often have they stressed how vital it is to close the gap between poorer children and their wealthier peers which already exists by the time they reach primary school? Today’s announcement has shown all that up for what it really is: hollow, empty rhetoric. 

“We have a sector on its knees, with underpaid, overworked early years professionals doing their best to care for and educate children who, after spending most if not all of their lives under pandemic restrictions, need more individual care and education than ever before. The ignorance and short-sightedness that would lead anyone to suggest relaxing ratios as a solution to the problems our sector faces is frankly mind-boggling. 

“We know that the vast majority of providers won’t change how they operate, regardless of any rule changes, so this policy won’t even deliver the savings to parents ministers are claiming it will. But even a tiny minority of providers who feel they have no choice but to relax ratios could put the safety and wellbeing of young children at those settings at unacceptable risk. 

“There was a time when the government told us that every child mattered. I can't help but wonder when that stopped being true.”  

Rewind on Ratios
In 2013, the Alliance founded and ran the Rewind on Ratios campaign, which successfully opposed previous government plans to relax ratios in England.