The EYFS staff Child ratios are taken from the document called the EYFS statutory framework statutory means they must be adhered to at all times.
The minimum ratios are…
Birth to 2 years: 1 adult to 3 children
From 2 years to 3 years: 1 adult to 4 children
4 years and over: for every 8 children there has to be an adult.
These ratios set out the number of staff that need to be available to work alongside the children. They will be providing the care safety and security of the children.
These ratios must be maintained and only change in exceptional circumstances; so cover must be made during staff absences and emergencies.
But, it isn’t as simple as just keeping to those adult:child ratios.
The age and qualifications of the team are set out and these too must reflect the requirements of you as a manager.
It is necessary to hold at least a level three qualification and have a minimum of two years early years or suitable experience.
There also needs to be a named deputy, capable and qualified to take charge when the manager is absent.
Additional staff may be required for admin, meal preparation, domestic tasks and for maintaining the premises and resources.
The framework says that suitable students aged 17 or over and staff working as apprentices in early education who are aged over 16 may be included in those ratios if it is considered by the registered person that they are competent and responsible.
However, the 16-year-old must be supervised at all times.
For children under 2, 1 person in charge of the room and at least 1 person on duty must have at least a level three qualification plus experience of working with children under 2.
Then, 50% of the rest must have at least a level two qualification, and overall 50% must have a specific training in the care of babies for Children over two.
Again, there must be at least 1 person with a level three qualification and 50% of the remaining staff must hold at least a level two qualification.
Now, there is an exception for Children over three. Should someone have a qualified teacher status, or early years professional status, or another suitable level six qualification, there can be a 1 to 13 ratio.
The Department of Education has a qualification list to determine which qualifications are suitable and if so, at what level such as 2, 3 or higher. There’s also a list for international qualifications that are acceptable.
When organizing the provisions, you need to think about stability within your teams because each child must have a key person and the role of the key person is to support one of the primary principles of the EYFS, which is to be able to promote the child’s feeling of security to provide strong and positive relationships with them and their parents. The objective is that by doing this, the child’s learning and development is supported.
Another consideration is the needs of all the Children to make sure they are safe, so there is a need to think about this. It is a statutory requirement to ensure that Children can normally be seen and heard.
One of my announced inspections was triggered by a complaint that a child would be left outside on their own. It was his preferred space and Ofsted were fine as he could be both seen through the large windows and also heard.
There has been some debate whether ratios should be over the room or the whole
Building, as the framework is a bit unclear in this point.
Nursery World on 14 November 2019 reported that Ofsted’s, Gill Jones confirmed that ratios applied across the nursery, not in every room or group at all times, but it is the provider who is ultimately responsible for safeguarding the children.
The reasoning behind how staff are deployed may need to be justified, particularly if on the day of the inspection, children are unsettled in any way. Consider how your space is laid out and how easy a room can call on someone for extra support.
Remember these are minimum standards.
Also remember that the inspector has the power to deem a setting as Requires Improvement or Outstanding depending on how the inspector interprets the experience being received by the children.
In one of my nurseries where we had babies both up and downstairs, we had an extra person on duty for staff moving from one floor to the other. In all other settings, we use ratios per room rather than across the building. But this is your call based on your circumstances.
Over and above the ratios, at least one person must be the Designated Safeguarding Lead, who must have regular training and updates. He or she does not need to have to be in the building all the time, but contactable if necessary.
However, there must always be someone who has a paediatric first aid certificate on the premises who is available at all times.
Someone with first aid training must also accompany children on outings and first aid training has to be of a certain calibre and renewed regularly.
Additionally, someone must take responsibility for being the special educational needs coordinator. Extra staff ratios may be required to meet the needs of individual children with additional needs while not neglecting those of the group.
Now, today is the 29th of January 2023. Just check if the EYFS statutory framework has changed: Google it and check the date of the last copy!
Get in touch if you would like to know how you could possibly reduce staff numbers while staying within the law.