THE minimum qualification for nursery supervisors has been increased in a move to squash accusations that the Government is "dumbing down" early-years provision. It is the only change that ministers have made to the National Care Standards which come into effect from September, when the new Early Years Directorate begins inspection of nurseries, playgroups, cr ches, childminders and out-of-school clubs. Senior staff in nurseries will have to hold a NVQ level 3, but education miister Margaret Hodge confirmed that level 2 would be the minimum for half of the staff working in early-years settings. The rule that child-minders can slap children and smoke in front of them if their parents have agreed also stands. The Professional Association of Nursery Nurses, which represents about 5,500 nursery nurses, nannies and other childcarers, said most local authorities already required half the staff in a daycare setting to be qualified to NVQ level 3.