The UK government is being pressured to put early years practitioners on the par with teachers in not only status but with pay also. A report has found that poor pay and the ever-increasing workload and the low status of is pushing early years staff out of the early years sector.
The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) in collaboration with the Education Policy Institute (EPI) has found that the early years sector is struggling to keep staff
The ‘Understanding the Early Years Workforce’ report quotes findings from the National Day Nurseries Association showing that the number of nursery workers qualified to a Level 3 has dropped to crisis levels in the last four years, This is from 83% of the early years workforce to now just 52%.
The report identified three types of professionals with different motivations for working within the early years sector.
Those who started working in the early years sector and have stayed because of their passion and love for working with children.
Those who started working in childcare because it was convenient but have stayed because they have grown to love early years education.
Those who have started and stay within the early years sector out of convenience.
The research has highlighted that the ‘relatively low pay in early years compared to other graduate professions also meant there was a limited pool of qualified candidates that wanted to join the workforce’.
Managers have had “mixed views” on the government policy of trying to attract more graduates into the early years industry according to the research.
‘They can’t pay graduates a graduate wage’
‘They’re trying to make the job more appealing, so they’ve opened it up to graduates which is a brilliant idea, but in practicality, they have not got the money. They can’t pay graduates a graduate wage,’ said a nursery manager in the report.
The report proposed that the pay of early years professionals pay to match that of primary teachers. The report also revealed that nearly 45% of early years practitioners are reliant on government benefits or tax credits.
Early years staff are concerned that people see their jobs’ easy’ and ‘unskilled’
Early years practitioners highlighted how physically and emotionally tiring their jobs were. One of the reasons was the amount of paperwork required which practitioners complained had increased over the years and added to their already heavy workload.
Practitioners in deprived areas also revealed that in addition to the amount of paperwork and the range of “parental” tasks added to their high exhaustion levels.
“You’re not just educating children, you’re teaching them how to toilet, how to speak, basic things that parents should have taught their children and it makes it difficult. Every day is, we go home tired every single day, emotionally as well.”
The main reason why early years practitioners are on low pay is that the nurseries biggest customer is the Government which does not pay enough for nurseries to deliver funded places. This lack of funding then puts a lot of childcare settings in a position where they can only afford to pay minimum wages and only offer basic training.
There is a very low early years staff retention
“Every day we hear of more and more talented, passionate practitioners choosing to leave the sector for roles with less stress and more pay. How can we continue to provide the best possible care and education to young children if we are increasingly unable to attract and retain the high-quality workforce needed to do so?”
Do you think early years practitioners should be paid the same as primary school teachers?
Do you think that paying early years practitioners more money will make them want to stay within the sector and make them happier?
If you are interested in reading the full Understanding the Early Years Workforce report then click here to download it.