CHILD care providers in East Lancashire are questioning government proposals that could see staff looking after more children in a bid to cut costs for parents.

Currently nursery key workers can care for four two-year-olds at one time, which will increase to six, and the ratio for under-ones will go up from three to four.

But staff have backed plans for the introduction of a graduate-level Early Years Educator, which will see nursery teachers having compulsory, better qualifications.

Heather Langridge, manager and joint owner at York Nurseries Ltd, in Todmorden Road, Burnley, said she is currently assessing plans for the government moves.

She said: “I think that we have to be very careful with this for a number of reasons, especially with the ratio of 1:4. It could be quite difficult.

“How does one person get four babies, who can’t walk or crawl, out of a building in an emergency?

“As for the educational qualification, I understand what needs to be done. Recently we have won awards for the building, and development of our staff, to ensure they are at the highest standards.”

Education minister Liz Truss is to outline the changes, which will be raised in the Budget on March 30.

The new Early Years Educator will require practical experience for people who want to study child care, and they will need at least a C grade in English and maths GCSE.

Plans for better wages could be introduced because of these qualifications as some nursery staff are working on the minimum wage.

The government plan to increase the number of children per child minder, which could see the cost of fees being reduced.

 The average full day at nursery for one child costs between £30 and £40.

Amanda Halstead, deputy manager at St Mary’s College Nursery, in Shear Brow, Blackburn, said that demands from babies will cause issues with the ratio proposals, but she also backs the educational plans.

She said: “It would be interesting to actually see this in practice.

“If you think about it, you will have to reduce staff numbers to increase overall wages, and then increase the workload. There are a lot of demands on paper work now, as each child has to have their own learning journey.

“We are lucky here to be on the college site, where students are learning and gaining qualifications on the job. If this can be rolled out across the country, then that’s great.”