The EYFS sets out the current arrangements for how staff should be deployed in early years settings.
The Government intends to revise the ratio requirements so that they come into force from this September.
The consultation on early education and childcare staff deployment asks for views on how ratios could be changed to allow staff to look after more children in early years settings.
Early years providers will only be able change how they operate - with more children per adult member of staff - if they employ a certain proportion of people with higher qualifications.
The consultation asks for thoughts on how to link ratios to quality and what qualifications staff should hold to allow nurseries to have more flexibility over ratios.
‘It should be stressed that these ratios will be maximum legal limits – no settings will be obliged to use higher ratios, and parents will still be free to choose nurseries that operate on existing ratios if they prefer,’ it says.
The document sets out examples of criteria that nurseries could be required to meet before they are able to change their ratios, such as:
- 70 per cent of staff qualified to a least Level 3;
- 100 per cent of staff qualified to at least Level 3;
- 100 per cent of staff with a minimum of a C grade in English and Maths;
- At least one graduate in a setting, plus 70 per cent of other staff qualified to at least Level 3;
- Ratios based on the individuals working with children – so that only a staff member with a Level 3; qualification and/or English and Maths GCSE can use the higher ratio
For childminders, the consultation asks for views on proposals to increase the number of under-fives that childminders can care for from three to four, and the number of babies under one from one to two, maintaining the maximum number of children that childminders can look after at any one time to six.
The Government also says it wants to provide an explicit allowance for overlaps between children by making clear childminders can exceed these new ratios by one for ‘reasonable periods of time’.
- The consultation closes on 25 March. The results of the consultation and the Department for Education’s response will published on the DfE e-consultation website in the spring.