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News - 25 March 2013

Government advisors critisises nursery ratio plans.

Prof Cathy Nutbrown, who reviewed childcare and qualifications for the government, said its plans "make no sense at all".

In a strongly worded response to the government's plans, More Great Childcare, Prof Nutbrown said the current proposals would "shake the foundations" of quality nursery provisions.

"The difference will be too few adults with too many little children; too few moments in the day for a toddler to have uninterrupted time with their key person, and too few early years practitioners to talk and work with parents."

Prof Nutbrown has been at the heart of shaping government policy on childcare. She has been advising the government on early years education since 2010 and has been held up by the Department for Education as a leading expert in the field.

She led the government's review of early education and childcare qualifications and contributed to the Tickell review of the Early Years Foundation Stage, which looked at the previous government's guidance on how education should be organised for children up to the age of five.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "Prof Nutbrown's review provided a valuable contribution to the development of our proposals for early education and childcare.
"We have taken forward several of her important recommendations, but we recognise that reforms and improvement need to go much further if we are to give parents a proper choice of high quality childcare and early education.”

Prof Nutbrown's comments come as the National Children's Bureau (NCB) charity releases the findings of a snapshot survey suggesting an overwhelming rejection of the ratio-change plans from the early years sector.

Lavinia Newman Founder of ABDS comments:
“Of the 341 early year’s staff who responded, 95% said they were concerned about increasing childcare ratios and that practitioners caring for children aged two or under should not be looking after any more. Similarly, 80% felt the ratios for under-fives should remain as they are. Suggested changes would see both these ratios raised to four children for every staff member.”

NCB chief executive Dr Hilary Emery said while there was agreement that the government needed to act in order to make childcare more affordable, "there are widely held fears that allowing providers to take on more children, in the same space with the same number of staff, could put children's welfare at risk and won't necessarily save parents any more money".

England's nursery ratios


  • Under one and one-year-olds - 1:3
  • Two-year-olds - 1:4
  • Three-year-olds and above - 1:8 or 1:13 (teacher-led)


  • Under one and one-year-olds 1:4
  • Two-year-olds - 1:6
  • Three-year-olds and above - 1:8 or 1:13 (teacher-led)

If you need any help and advice on Nursery Schools contact Peter Ham, Lavinia Newman, Stuart Coleman or Tonmoy Kumar to discuss how ABDS can help

ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900  E-mail:

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