Children’s charity warns of shortage of 11,000 early years teachers

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Analysis by the charity Save the Children has revealed that there is an acute shortage of early years teachers in PVI settings in England.

The figures obtained from a Freedom of Information request sent to the Department for Education revealed that 325,000 two-, three- and four-year-olds in funded places in PVI settings in England have no access to qualified early years teachers or someone with Qualified Teacher Status.

The Freedom of Information request asked for:

  • the number and proportion of childcare settings in the private, voluntary and independent sector who employ an Early Years Teacher (EYT), Early Years Professional (EYP) or someone with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), and;
  • the number of children accessing funded hours who go to a setting with an EYT or equivalent.

The charity used the information obtained to work out the number of PVI providers who do not employ an early years teacher or equivalent and the number of children in funded places who do not have access to one.

The charity’s analysis found that 10,731 settings out of 21,041 do not have staff with qualified teacher status, early years teacher status, or early years professional status.

Save the Children’s analysis of the data also showed wide regional variations, finding that the East Midlands had the lowest percentage of pre-school children with access to graduate teachers. Inner London, however, showed as one of the top-performing regions, alongside the North East.

Save the Children director of UK Poverty, Steven McIntosh, said: “Children who start behind, stay behind. But high-quality childcare, led by graduate early years teachers, can ensure children are ready for school. So instead of lowering ambitions for childcare quality, the Government should keep its promise to address the crisis in training, recruiting and retaining these underpaid and undervalued teachers. All of our little ones should have access to nursery care led by an early years teacher. Without action, we’ll be letting down our next generation.”

Save the Children’s findings come in the wake of the Government’s decision to abandon proposals to grow the early years graduate workforce in poorer areas and to change the rules to allow those with Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS) or Early Years Professional Status (EYPS) to lead classes in maintained settings.  

Last month, an open letter penned to children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi from 12 leading early years figures stated that they were ‘alarmed’ at the Government’s decision to drop its commitment to grow the graduate early years workforce, calling for action to reverse this decision.

Nadhim Zahawi said of the charity’s analysis: “Save the Children’s claim is misleading, university study is just one route into the early years workforce. There are over 250,000 dedicated professionals in the private or voluntary early years workforce, with many coming from apprenticeship or on the job training routes.

“Most recently the secretary of state announced a £20 million fund to provide training and professional development for early years staff in disadvantaged areas to increase their ability to support children’s early speech and language development.”

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