On Monday 14th November, a Westminster Hall debate is being held on the controversial e-petition regarding staff to child ratios. The debate will be opened by Catherine McKinnell MP and states:

“The Government should not reduce the existing adult-child childcare ratios as has been suggested. There are surely better ways to reduce the cost of living – potentially endangering children in trusted care is not how it should be done.”

The Government responded to the petition on 17th May 2022, and said they “will consult in the summer on moving to the Scottish ratios for two-year-olds, from a ratio of 1:4 to 1:5… [and] will engage fully with the sector and parents/carers on this proposed change”.


The Government has published a consultation on changing childcare ratios in England, proposing to “improve the cost, choice and availability of childcare.” The consultation ran from the 4th July to 16th September 2022.

The Department for Education’s (DfE) consultation was seeking views on: 

  • Changing the mandatory staff to child ratio for two-year olds in early years settings from 1:4 to 1:5;
  • Increasing flexibility for childminders, so they can care for more than the maximum of three children under the age of five “if they are caring for siblings of children they already care for, or if the childminder is caring for their own baby or child”; and
  • Making the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework (EYFS) explicit that “adequate supervision” means children “must be in sight and hearing of an adult” while they are eating or drinking.

The Government says the change to the ratio for two-year-olds could reduce childcare costs by up to £40 for a family paying £265 per week.

Some stakeholders have raised concerns and question whether the changes will lead to savings for families. The Early Years Alliance, for example, labelled the plans “ludicrous, pointless and potentially dangerous”. Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association, welcomed the consultation but said “tinkering with ratios alone will not cut costs”. She also warned, given the impact of the Covid pandemic, it was not the time to be giving children less support.

However, others have argued other countries have less stringent requirements without compromising safety.

Read the full Research Briefing on the official UK Parliament website here.

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