As you may know, the Chancellor announced that the Government will proceed with changing staff-to-child ratios from 1:4 to 1:5 for 2-year-olds in England to align with Scotland and other countries.
While I appreciate there are concerns, I believe the new 1:5 ratio will increase flexibility for providers and the availability of childcare provision for parents. I also commend our dedicated childcare professionals for all the fantastic work they do on a daily basis to ensure that children in our area receive a high-quality early education.
Although this change will come into force from September 2023, the new ratios will remain strictly optional with no obligation on either childminders or parents to adopt them. As your Member of Parliament, I trust that childcare providers know their children and their staff best. Therefore, I fully support practitioners in Mid Sussex to make the correct decision on ratios, ensuring they meet the individual needs of staff and children.
I must stress that the proposed changes to ratios would continue to be a statutory minimum requirement for settings, but providers can continue to work to tighter ratios if they decide that is best for the children and staff at their setting.
This change to the system in England aligns with that of Scotland and there is no evidence to suggest that the Scottish model is unsafe. I am aware that evidence in Scotland suggests that there are high parental satisfaction rates, and England's statutory minimum staff to child ratios for two-year-olds are among the highest in Europe.
I can assure you that the Government is committed to providing safe, high-quality early-years provision for all children. Further, I am confident that my colleagues at the Department for Education will continue to engage fully with the sector, as well as with parents and carers.