Voice backs warnings from early years campaigners

Date: 29.09.16
Voice has urged the Government to heed the warnings of the Save our Early Years campaign that nurseries in England are struggling to recruit qualified staff, and the Pre-School Learning Alliance that childcare costs could "sky-rocket".


29 September 2016 

Voice backs warnings from early years campaigners

Voice: the union for education professionals, which represents nursery staff and students, has urged the Government to heed the warnings of the Save our Early Years campaign that nurseries in England are struggling to recruit qualified staff because of changes to qualification requirements, and the Pre-School Learning Alliancethat childcare costs could "sky-rocket" in parts of England because of falls in government funding when the free 30 hours scheme starts in 2017.

General Secretary Deborah Lawson said:

“For months, Voice and other childcare organisations that support Save our Early Years have been warning that the Government’s policy change would begin to bite from this September, resulting in a significant shortfall in the number of Level 3 Early Years Educators, jeopardising the quality of available care for children and raising the threat of increased childcare costs for parents. 

“We agree that English and maths are important – but functional skills in English and maths also provide staff with essential skills and must be accepted.

“I am concerned about the impact of this on those progressing through the system and whether they see childcare as a viable long-term career prospect.”

Writing for the Save our Early Years campaign’s blog, Deborah Lawson commented: “The current requirement presents a significant risk to the early years profession”.

Deborah Lawson also commented:

“I welcome the assurance from Minister Caroline Dinenage that the long-awaited Workforce Strategy ‘is in development’ and will look at ‘ways of getting the best individuals into the profession, while recognising that excellence can be measured by qualities other than exam results’ and have measures to ‘develop people’s talents while they are working in the sector and keep our most able and experienced staff.’

“Recruiting and retaining staff is a huge challenge for the sector. 

As the Pre-School Learning Alliance has highlighted, nurseries already face the prospect of a reduction in government funding when the free 30 hours scheme starts. 

A recent Voice survey found that the respondents working in childcare were generally highly-skilled but low paid.  It seems that the Government expects the early years sector to operate on minimum funding and maximum good will, but good will doesn’t pay the mortgage.  

“The combination of low wages, poor career prospects, and reduced resources for further training and continuing professional development does not make childcare an attractive professional career option.

“As the 30 hours pilots get underway, the Government’s plan to double free early education and childcare could be dealt a devastating blow by the recruitment and retention crisis.

“A coherent career framework and pathway is required, one which ideally is supported by salary structures that reflect professionals’ skills, knowledge and responsibilities, and includes parity for early years teachers with school teachers, who enjoy qualified teacher status (QTS).

“It is not acceptable to rely on the goodwill of the workforce, many of whom have funded much of their own training to prop up the sector. Their caring disposition has been taken advantage of for too long.”

 


 

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Contacts:

Voice Press Office
Email: pressoffice@voicetheunion.org.uk

General Secretary Deborah Lawson
Email: deborahlawson@voicetheunion.org.uk

Tel: 01332 372337