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Training – Start life well

  • As early years professionals we each have the privilege and opportunity to make a lasting impact on young children’s wellbeing and future development, Linda Baston-Pitt, chief exec, PurpleBee learning explains.



Viewpoint – Parent engagement: keeping our families involved

  • Parental engagement in early years is consistently associated with children’s subsequent academic success and social development. Kirsty Ferguson, early years class teacher details the importance of parent involvement.


Focus – Delivering early years apprentices in a pandemic

  • As the economy tries to stabilize through the pandemic, the importance of apprenticeships is even more crucial. Covid-19 has raised challenges for young people looking to start their career, with exams not being sat, increased levels of home working, opportunities are shrinking in a number of industries. Gill Mason, head of training & development at Kids Planet speaks about her plans going forward.


Special Feature – Welcoming you to the ‘Family’

  • Whenever a children’s nursery is put up for sale, vendors are inevitably concerned about the future for their staff and the youngsters in their care. In the third of our features on the new Family First nursery group, we explore how this ambitious organisation works closely with vendors and managers to achieve a win-win situation all round.


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Early years recovery must be a priority

2020 brought to the surface the many barriers that the early years workforce face on a daily basis and under the pressure of a pandemic they performed with commitment and resilience, Briony Richter reports.

Those barriers however, have plagued the sector for decades. The lack of funding and appreciation continues to dampen the progress and moral for those who have worked tirelessly.

A new year does mean an opportunity for a new start but complacency from the Government must end. 2020 impacted every part of our society and the early years was one of the hardest hit.

One positive step we have seen is that tens of thousands of adults will be able to benefit from almost 400 free courses next year, in the first major development in the Lifetime Skills Guarantee including a number of Level 3 early years courses.

This could save students and employers thousands of pounds in fees and will help remove the barriers to beginning the Early Years Educator course.

While this was a welcomed initiative from the Government, we are still facing unprecedented challenges.

The Low Pay Commission report which was published in December 2020 highlighted the significant financial strain the sector is under and that it’s the workers that bear the brunt of the consequences. The Low Pay Commission detailed that:

  • Almost 200,000 childcare employees were furloughed during the period of lockdown with 45% having their furlough payments topped up by employers.
  • Lower paid and younger workers in childcare were more likely to be furloughed.
  • The financial impact on the childcare sector of lower demand and higher operating costs.
  • That low pay in the childcare sector remains an issue.

The report stated: ‘Childcare has continued to face similar issues to the care sector, caught between a flat funding settlement (albeit with some extra funding in the most recent year) and rising employment costs (staff costs are typically 70 per cent of providers’ turnover).

“The financial instability of many in the sector has been exacerbated by the pandemic. The lockdown from March onwards led to a collapse in demand for many childcare providers, with many settings closing temporarily, and reopening from June onwards to far lower numbers than usual. All of this, we heard, left many businesses with a considerable hole in their finances.’

Providers have been calling for more financial support prior to the pandemic as operating costs continue to increase. However, the funding has never matched those costs.

With the National Living and Minimum Wages increasing, the funding rates must be factored in to help the sector survive and grow. In England we know that the proposed increases will not keep up with the wage costs for employees.

It is imperative that the Government steps up for the sector like they did for millions of families throughout the pandemic.

Briony Richter
Editor, Nursery Management Today