Every nursery worker will be forced to have basic Maths and English qualifications under new plans to lift standards among childcare workers.
Every nursery worker will be forced to have basic Maths and English qualifications to lift standards among childcare workers.
Nurseries will also be allowed nearly to double the number of toddlers they care for under plans aimed at cutting childcare costs.
Under plans to be announced by ministers next week people will only be able to look after children nurseries if they have a good GCSE in English and Maths.
Currently, there is no basic qualification for people who work at nurseries. One Government source said: “You need more qualifications to look after a kennel than a nursery.”
Ministers will also say that they want to allow nursery staff to look after more children in a bid to bring down charges and free up more places at nurseries.
The average cost of a full-time nursery place is about £115 a week but some nurseries in London can charge as much as £300 a week.
Childcare costs account for 27 per cent of the £26,500 average wage in the UK, more than double the 11.8 per cent average among advanced economies.
England currently has the strictest rules in Europe on how many childminders and nursery staff can look after children.
In English nurseries, one member of staff can look after three children aged one or under, rising to four for two year olds and up to 13 for over three year olds.
But on the Continent, the rules are much more relaxed. In French crèches, one adult can supervise up to eight toddlers. In Denmark, Germany and Sweden there are no rules governing children/staff ratios.
Nurseries will also be able to take on six two year olds to every qualified childcare worker. The ratios for babies aged one and under will also go up.
However they will only be able to relax the rules if they hire additional staff with the Maths and English GCSE qualifications.
The idea is also to bring up wages for childcare workers. Currently nursery workers are at the bottom of the pay league in Europe, with creche staff paid an average of £13,300 a year compaerd with £19,150 a year in Germany and £16,300 a year in France.
The shake-up was signalled by Education minister Elizabeth Truss earlier this month when she said said nurseries were currently struggling to pay staff acceptable wages because of “onerous requirements on numbers”.
Mrs Truss a 37-year-old married mother of two - said: “In England, we need to move to a simpler, clearer system that prioritises quality and safety over excessive bureaucracy.
“We also need to think about the balance between the number and quality of staff in our system. It is no coincidence that we have the most restrictive adult-child ratios for young children of comparable European countries as well as the lowest staff salaries.”
Mrs Truss said that French nurseries “operate with fewer staff who are better qualified and better paid than their English equivalents”.
Separately, an estimated 2.4 million working households will be better off as a result of Universal Credit, ministers have revealed.
Figures show that these households will be better off by an average £158 per month. This is because of the more generous work allowances and more flexible childcare support of Universal Credit.
Iain Duncan Smith, Welfare secretary, said: “Universal Credit will create a benefit system that is fair, simple and makes work pay. Under Universal Credit people will be able to keep more of what they earn.
"They will get the help they need and will see a clear incentive to achieve their aspirations through work.
"We are also investing an extra £200 million on childcare support and changing the rules so that families can access this kind of support from their first hour in work.”