Sunderland parents can have their say on childcare

Sharon Hodgson  Labour Party MP for Washington and Sunderland West.
Sharon Hodgson Labour Party MP for Washington and Sunderland West.
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PARENTS on Wearside are being urged to have their say on childcare policy.

A public meeting has been called by Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Children’s Minister, after a Government advisor slammed ministers’ proposals to increase the number of pre-school children that childminders and nurseries can look after.

Professor Cathy Nutbrown, who was commissioned by the Government to write a report on how to increase the quality of childcare, called the plans “nonsense”.

In a stinging response to the Government’s More Great Childcare plans, published in January, Professor Nutbrown, who is the head of education at Sheffield University, said: “Current proposals will shake the foundations of quality provision for young children.

“Watering down ratios, regardless of the level of qualifications held by staff, is likely to lead to worse, not great childcare, and will undermine intentions to provide quality early learning experiences.”

Now, Mrs Hodgson, who sits on Labour’s Childcare Commission, is turning to Wearside parents and childcare providers to get their ideas.

She said: “Ministers are trying to ram this through in the face of fierce opposition from experts, parents and childcare professionals who care about the service they provide to children and families, and it’s about time they stopped and listened.

“Parents are really struggling at the moment, with childcare costs increasing, support from the Government being cut and Sure Start hollowed out.

“The last thing they need is to have to worry about whether their child is being properly looked after. Labour’s approach to childcare is different. We know that parents and providers are the experts, not us.”

Anyone wishing to attend the event, which will be held from 4pm to 6pm, on Friday, April 5, at the Rainbow Family Centre, Elliot Terrace, Concord, Washington NE37 3AE, should register by calling 417 2000 or emailing Mrs Hodgson at hodgsons@parliament.uk.

A crèche will be provided.