Voice: The Union for Education Professionals has welcomed publication of NatCen’s report, Understanding the Early Years Workforce, for highlighting the challenges for recruiting, retaining and developing staff in the sector.
General Secretary Deborah Lawson said:
“NatCen’s study found that many staff follow a career in the sector because, as dedicated professionals, they know the difference that good early years education can make and is something we have highlighted from our own previous surveys.
“As previous research has shown, many skilled early years professionals could earn more stacking supermarket shelves – but stay in the profession because it is their vocation.
“Such pay levels are not commensurate with the qualifications and experience required for early years professionals, especially for those at graduate level.
“I am pleased that this report reveals the workload pressures on practitioners. There has, rightly, been a focus recently on teachers’ workload, but workload issues in the early years sector have not been reported to the same extent.
“We know from our own members that many practitioners do not feel that they have a good work-life balance and regularly feel stressed about work, with some even considering leaving the early years sector due to stress and mental health difficulties, adding to the current recruitment and retention crisis.
“We also know from members that the ‘goodwill’ of staff to work unpaid overtime is often relied on. That goodwill – with dedicated staff suffering long hours and low pay in silence while they put the needs of the children in their care ahead of their own welfare – is being stretched with the expansion of early years education.
“As NatCen’s report highlights, more must be done to improve the status and career progression of the early years workforce.
“That should include revising Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS) and seeking equivalency with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).
“The Government must implement an early years and childcare workforce strategy that is supported by a clear career pathway and national pay structure – and it must do it soon.”