Today's Telegraph tells us that
"Under plans to be announced by ministers next week people will only be able to
look after children in nurseries if they have a good GCSE in English and Maths".
It looks as if politicians are going to fall into the same trap with child minders at nurseries as they have with many nurses in hospitals. The basic requirement of any carer is that they must care, and enjoy caring for people, and this is nowhere more important than in a nursery where the young children require lots of attention.
My grandson, now just turned four, has attended a very nice nursery for three days a week since he was about a year old and thoroughly enjoys it. The children are divided into two groups, roughly those up to about three years old, and those who are above that until they go to school. There is an older woman in charge of each group whom I assume is British, but the rest of the carers seem to be in their twenties and come mainly from eastern Europe. Nevertheless, they all speak good English and really seem to care for the children that they are looking after. I've listened to them talking to the children and reading stories and you couldn't fault them.
No doubt they are probably all on the minimum wage, but obviously feel they are better of here than at home. However what will happen when the regulations require them to have GCSEs in English and Maths. In spite of the fact that the carers seem to speak better English than many of the locals, and perhaps even have a qualification in our language from their own country, will they be acceptable? What Maths knowledge is required for a four year old? My grandson can count up to about fifty, and can add together any two numbers up to six without counting on his fingers (the result of playing snakes and ladders with two dice). He knows the letters of the alphabet by name and also phonetically, what more do you expect of a child of that age? More important, they seem to have taught him basic manners, he rarely forgets to say "please" or "thank you", he sits still at the table whilst eating and now drinks out of a ordinary cup.
The government proposals will undoubtedly increase costs, as most pupils who get GCSEs in subjects like English and Maths invariably go on to do "A" levels and will be looking for more than the minimum rate of pay. They will also probably not like the hours of work as the nursery is open from about 6:30 am to 6:30 pm, although the staff do seem to do some form of shift work. So we have proposals that will undoubtedly increase costs whilst at the same time the government is claiming that they want to reduce the costs of care to the families.
Personally, I'd rather have unqualified people who care than qualified people who consider menial tasks (like changing a baby's nappy) beneath them. Even more so since I read in this morning's paper that a nurse at a hospital had taped a dummy into a baby's mouth to stop him crying. That is a qualified carer!
Just one snag. The other day when junior was with us, he knocked his drink off the table which went everywhere. He came out with what sounded like an expletive, and I asked him what he had said. The response "It's what Katrina said yesterday when she tripped over a toy and dropped her cup of tea". Whoops! But then perhaps it's better to learn a rude word in Slovakian or Polish than in English.