Nursery anger over Government plans

Appletrees owner Lucy Thompson with her two-year-old daughter Isla and assistant manager Vicky Holroyd. (130215AM3)

Appletrees owner Lucy Thompson with her two-year-old daughter Isla and assistant manager Vicky Holroyd. (130215AM3)

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A Ripon nursery is up in arms over “ludicrous” proposed legislation by the Government which would allow child carers to take charge of more children.

The owner of Appletrees Day Nursery in Littlethorpe has spoken out about Government plans to allow an increase in the child-to-carer ratio, claiming it will have a “hugely negative effect” on the quality of childcare offered by nurseries.

Lucy Thompson, who opened Appletrees in May 2009, said: “We have a very experienced and highly-qualified team at Appletrees and we all agree the proposed increase in child to staff ratios is ludicrous.

“It will make the focus on what is important in early years impossible to achieve, the main aim being the quality of learning we provide for children.”

Miss Thompson maintained she will not operate to the upper limit if the legislation is passed by the Government and has rallied her staff behind a national petition against the proposal.

“We will not adopt the proposals because we will not compromise the quality of care we give to our children,” she said.

“It really concerns me how this relaxation in childcare ratios will be interpreted across the early years childcare sector.

“The feedback we have received from some of our parents suggests they would have great concerns about the safety element if child ratios are increased. They have made their choice of childcare with us based on staff ratios and the ability practitioners have to fully support their children.”

Education Minister Elizabeth Truss is tabling the proposals and argues they will bring UK limits in line with other European countries, making childcare more affordable for parents, allowing carers to earn more money and encouraging more people into the profession. But Miss Thompson argued the announcement will disadvantage both children and carers.

The Government announcement proposes one nursery worker will be able to look after up to four babies aged under-one, or up to six two-year-olds.

Appletrees currently runs a policy of one carer to three children across the ages of three months to five years.

Miss Thompson added: “Some nurseries may well be willing to adopt the new ratios and change the way they operate – but at what cost to the children?”