‘Benchmark for terms and conditions is long overdue’

23 May

Q&A with General Secretary Deborah Lawson in Practical Pre-School, June 2017
With the GCSE requirements for Level 3 qualifications having been dropped, will the sector soon see more candidates coming forward?

We will see more candidates coming forward eventually, but how long it will take for recruitment to recover, remains to be seen. We are pleased that the Government listened to the sector and has taken action to limit any further damage.

We still support the idea of minimum qualification at entry level, but the previous over-reliance on academic qualifications, at the expense of functional skills, and the introduction of a blanket requirement as a panacea for quality assurance and improvement demonstrated a failure to understand the profession, its needs and the sector.

With the workforce shrinking, what appear to be the main factors which are currently deterring people from pursuing early years as a career?

The financial rewards do not keep pace with the increased responsibilities that accompany promotion.  Despite the increasing levels of qualifications held by staff, which are essential for quality, this is not reflected in salaries. This is a consequence of inadequate Government funding.

Is the increase in the Minimum wage and the New National Minimum wage having a positive impact for early years workers?

Any increase in salary is positive. However, increasing costs without increasing funding makes it difficult for employers to have pay structures that reflect pay differentials between experienced and newly qualified staff.

We know from our members and research that qualified and unqualified childcare staff are amongst the lowest paid workers in the country.  Qualified childcare professionals who have trained and undertaken academic and practical assessment are likely to earn the minimum wage or a little above it for most of their career.  Promotion opportunities are limited and often provide greater responsibilities that are not matched or reflected by the accompanying salary increase.

In an ideal world, what pay scales and conditions should practitioners receive?

In our 2015 Election statement, we called for: research to be undertaken by an appropriate government agency into the terms and conditions of employment of private sector childcare employees’.  There is no benchmark for terms and conditions of employment and salary against which private and voluntary sector childcare providers can compare or aspire to.  Without such a benchmark, backed by investment from government, this is a difficult task for employers. 

I don’t think we can be too prescriptive, but a system that included ranges for particular roles in a variety of settings would be a starting point.

Do you think enough is being done to promote childcare as a rewarding career for those at school and college?

There is no doubt that a career in early years and childcare is rewarding and provides high levels of job satisfaction. However, job satisfaction does not pay the rent or mortgage. It is difficult to promote a career which has no career pathway or development or salary structures.

Are nursery employers good at addressing the stress levels that are often involved in the job?

The funding and recruitment/retention crises cause great stress for both employees and employers.

We would advise members to seek advice from us as a union. Those in the school-based system can also contact Education Support Partnership.

How can the sector succeed in retaining early years workers?

Only a comprehensive national career and salary structure can ultimately make the sector more attractive. It is hard for the sector to compete when there are better wages and terms  and conditions in other, less demanding and jobs that require fewer or no qualifications.

We do not want to see a situation where childcare becomes a career option only for those who can afford to work out of a sense of for vocation, or for those who have no other choice because the hours fit  in with family life, for example.

The lack of career structure and low wages have a negative impact on the image of profession, so society doesn’t tend to value childcare as it does with professions such as teaching or medicine.

Those who work in childcare play a key role in society , both in terms of developing and nurturing our children and, economically, in enabling parental employment. As a society, we must recognise that, both in terms or status and financial reward.

Do you think that those with Early Years Teacher Status should be awarded QTS?

Yes. We were pleased by the commitment in the DfE’s Early Years Workforce Strategy to examine the ‘status and parity of early years teachers’, who do not currently have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and therefore lack the status and career opportunities of school teachers with QTS. However, we recognise that there may be limitations to the scope and range of age groups that can be included, and so look forward to working with the DfE on this.

Again, the lack of a career and salary structure  for the early years means that, even with QTS, those working  in early years setting will earn much less than a primary or secondary school teacher.

We do not want to see a mass exodus from the PVI sector to schools as an unintended consequence of QTS for EYTs.

Voice: the union for education professionals

Voice supports its members on employment issues, both individually and collectively, and provides regular information and advice as well as resources, such as free training workshops. 





Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon

No comments yet

Leave a Reply