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Pay and employment conditions need to improve for early years teachers

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Editorial Team
Publication Date: 
28 Mar 2019


A recent study by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) has revealed big problems affecting early years teachers in the UK. According to EPI’s research, the compensation for early years teacher s and childcare workers has decreased by 5% since 2013. Last year,their average hourly pay was £8.20. An earlier report by the Department for Education seems to corroborate EPI’s findings. For the report, early years providers were surveyed and 17% revealed that they received less than £7.20 an hour in 2016.

Naturally, the trends are causing more difficulties in hiring well-qualified staff, particularly those who have the highest Early Years Educator status (Level 3). Additionally, there are experienced professionals in the sector who decide to leave due to the aforementioned circumstances. In short, the workforce continues to shrink as a direct result of low pay.

The supply shortage actually starts all the way from the formation stage. From 2017 to 2018, a news article by Save the Children notes that there was a 33% decline in the number of people who trained to become early years teachers. This indicates that there are more problems than just the compensation teachers are receiving. There is also an issue with how childcare,in general, is treated as a social service.

Low pay and low regard for the profession are causing morale to plummet, leading to substandard care and education.

Overcoming the challenges and creating solutions

The UK government took action by funding the early years initial teacher training (EYITT) program, which is a great start.The Department for Education also rolled out the Early Years Work force Strategy, which is a series of initiatives that will tackle two pressing issues. Early years minister Caroline Dinen age explains, “This Government is spending a record £6 billion per year by 2020 to support hard-working families with the cost of childcare. Our ambition to raise the status of the profession and spread quality around the country will mean all children get the best start to their education, regardless of where they live or their background.” 

A supportive working environment that provides opportunities for development is also vital. Professional development (PD) of early childhood educators has positive effects on child outcomes. It is especially beneficial for three main facets of early childhood learning, namely language and literacy, mathematics, and social behaviour.

In addition, competent and people-oriented managers are needed to promote staff retention and increase morale. As discussed in a previous HR News story, research has established that poor management leads to more employee absences and contributes to “poor productivity, poor mental health, and high staff turnover.” By treating early year teachers the way that every self-respecting professional should be treated, we are already doing the profession justice. 

These initiatives to push for PD, which can come from managers and HR departments, will help reduce the amount of disgruntled professionals that are unhappy with the well publicised low pay. After all, a team’s potential can only be maximised when its members are happy with what they are doing and the people they work with.

Indeed, problems in both compensation and the current professional environment are best resolved on the ground level. This echoes the sentiment of Dr. Sara Bonetti, Associate Director of Early Years at the EPI. She relayed in an interview with The Independent that the issues should “concern parents who use childcare services, and the government, which regards high-quality early years education as crucial tos ocial mobility.” 

In other words, parents and guardians,government officials, management teams and childcare establishments must attack the problem head on. 

Entered Date: 
3 Apr 2019
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