A report from the Education Policy Institute has shown that there is a downward trend in the number of qualified staff working in Early Years. It warns of the prospect that the future early years workforce may be less qualified than now.
The report shows that fewer staff are working towards higher level qualifications and that almost half of staff with at least a level 6 qualification are over 40 years old. A fifth of these graduate-level staff members are over 50.
Childcare providers have recently had to contend with an increase in National Minimum and Living Wage, driving up their costs considerably. This is threatening the sustainability of some settings, with providers likely to try offsetting this cost-hike by charging parents higher fees or hiring less qualified staff.
The report also states that there has been an emerging downward trend in the number of staff members who have at least a Level 3 early years qualification (Early Years Educator).
Separate survey data from the National Day Nurseries Association suggests that those with at least a Level 3 qualification fell from 83% in 2015 to 75% in 2016.
Sara Bonetti, associate director of Early Years at the Education Policy Institute, said: “While there have been some positive measures to support the early years workforce, such as increases in staff pay, our analysis highlights a number of unwelcome trends emerging, which pose a threat to the quality of provision in England.
“Staff qualification levels remain low – with levels even declining among staff working with the very youngest children. In the near term, a lack of highly trained staff may hinder the recent expansion of childcare entitlements. In the long-term, there is considerable risk that a continued fall in qualification levels will have a negative impact on children, particularly the most vulnerable.
“To ensure the future sustainability of early years provision, it is vital that the Government recognises these worrying trends and takes steps to deliver on commitments set out in its workforce strategy.”
The Department for Education has said it will continue to encourage graduates into the sector through the Early Years Initial Teacher Training programme, providing support through bursaries and employer incentives.
Minister for Children and Families Nadhim Zahawi said, “It is positive this report recognises the work underway, alongside the sector, to improve qualifications and develop a new apprenticeship route in to early years.
“We want to continue to boost the status of our dedicated early years workforce, which is why we continue to support graduates into the sector through bursaries and employer incentives, as well as developing the skills of those already working in the sector.”
The majority of councils have no men working in their nurseries, as some parents fear they could pose a risk to young children.
It was found that, of 38 councils across England, Scotland and Wales, 26 of these do not hire a single male teacher.
Of 400,000 early years educators – which includes pre-schools, nurseries and school reception classes – 98 per cent are female.
Jamel Campbell, of the London Early Years Foundation, said: “People are entrusting their precious babies to us, to care for them and to teach them. There is a lot of stigma based on negative stories – children being at harm… men not being nurturing, men not being able to work with children that small.”
Mr Campbell said: “Some children out there may not have a male in their home, there needs to be balance, they need to have that interaction.”
He added that more men would be interested in becoming nursery teachers if they understood the benefits it can bring to young children.
Nadhim Zahawi, the minister for children and families, said that the lack of male nursery teachers is a problem which the Department for Education is trying to resolve. At the education select committee, he said: “I think there is an issue. We do need to do more.
“One of the areas where we are looking to do more in is with apprenticeships – to get more people considering a career in early years especially males. It is something that is important. A lack of male role models is not a good thing.”
The Chief Executive of the National Day Nurseries Association, Purnima Tanuku, said that childcare is seen by many as a “woman’s job” and that recruiting male practitioners is a “long standing problem” for the sector.
Ms Tanuku added: “There have been situations where parents have asked for male practitioners not to carry out personal care for their child and although a sensitive situation, it must be dealt with immediately.”
She said that nursery managers must refuse requests from parents for male members of staff not to change nappies or take their children to the toilet.
Last week, a report from the Education Policy Institute warned of a decline in qualified early years staff. The report highlighted that fewer practitioners are working towards higher level qualifications and that almost half of staff with at least a level 6 qualification are over 40 years old.
Toddlers are teaming up with Teletubbies again after helping to raise a total of more than £260,000 for vulnerable children last year.
Children’s charity Barnardo’s, whose head office is in Barkingside, is encouraging toddlers, parents, playgroups and pre-schools to get involved in the Big Toddle fundraising week from June 18 to 24.
The Big Toddle is a great opportunity for under-fives to have fun with friends and families and raise money to help disadvantaged children.
The children often get involved by completing a sponsored walk in fancy dress.
Lyn Gradwell, director of Barnardo’s in London, said: “East London is full of fantastic parks and green spaces so I hope local groups will embrace this year’s nature theme and get imaginative with fancy dress.
“The Big Toddle is a great opportunity for under-fives to have fun with friends and families and raise money to help disadvantaged children, and I want to say a big thank you to everyone in Redbridge who helped make such a difference in 2017.”
Last year, events run by under-fives groups across the London borough of Redbridge raised more than £1,800 towards the total of £265,350.
Those who contributed were Peter Pan’s Day Nursery in Barkingside, which contributed £719; Tree House Nursery in Wanstead, which raised £630; Kids@Play Preschool in Ilford, which raised £272; and St Paul’s Christian Playgroup in Woodford Green, which raised £136.
An independently organised Big Toddle in Woodford Green also raised £137 and another in Woodford Green raised £85.
Last year, more than 272,000 children, young people, parents and carers were supported by Barnardo’s through more than 1,000 services across the UK, including young carers, care leavers, foster carers and adoptive parents, training and skills or parenting classes.
Whether you’re a small childminder or a large nursery chain, the GDPR regulations will affect everybody when they become a legal requirement on the 25th May.
The GDPR applies to information that can be used to personally identify an individual. Examples include name, date of birth, bank details and photographs you may have of your staff, children or parents. It also applies to information which is gathered online.
What is a lawful basis for processing data and why do I need it?
You need to write down why you’re processing personal data in different areas of your business. This is because the GDPR regulations state that you need a valid lawful basis in order to process personal data. There are 6 different lawful bases, however, we have highlighted two very common ones you’ll come across as a childcare provider:
This is where parents give you clear consent to process their child’s personal data for a specific purpose. Children under the age of 16 cannot give consent and it falls to childcare settings to check whether parents have full parental responsibility to be able to give this consent.
Under clause 3.72 of the statutory EYFS framework, providers must record each child’s name, date of birth, address and emergency contact details of parents. This data is normally collected by a registration form. If there’s an obligation to hold personal data in order to meet the requirements of the Children’s Act, Ofsted or employment law, then this overrides the need to gain consent.
How often do I need to update the information I hold?
Personal data must be fairly and lawfully processed, but it must also be kept up to date. Let’s use the example of a child registration form. How often do you check the information is up to date – termly, 6 monthly or yearly? The GDPR requires that the records you hold be updated at least annually.
Rather than waiting for parents to notify you when their information has changed, it’s much better practice to show what information you hold on them. For example at parents evening, ask what information needs updating. You could also issue an update form which parents must sign and date whenever their information needs to be amended.
What can I do to minimise the risk of a data breach?
Minimising the processing of personal data at your setting to only what’s necessary for a specific purpose is a good way to reduce the risk of a data breach. For example, on your accident forms you need to include the child’s name, who dealt with the incident, where it happened and what treatment was given. But do you need the child’s date of birth, address details or the names of parents on it, too? Reducing the amount of personally identifiable information on your forms will help reduce the risk.
Another way to minimise risk surrounding personal data is by not keeping information for longer than necessary. For example, when a child leaves your setting all photos of them should be destroyed (or handed back to the parents) as there’s no lawful reason for you to keep these.
You should also assess whether your staff are competent at handling data. Your employees will handle a huge amount of children’s data on a day-to-day basis. They need a good understanding of what personal data is and what their responsibilities are to keep this data safe, in order to minimise the risk of a data breach occurring.
In our next GDPR instalment on 28th March, we explore what other requirements childcare providers must prepare for under the new GDPR rules.