Absence rate decreases slightly but remains high

The NDNA have released findings from their latest survey

The NDNA received responses from 563 settings across England, Scotland and Wales. The average staff absence rate was 14.69%, which has decreased slightly from last week but continues to be high. For children it has been rising for the past two weeks, and has now increased to 12.37%. Other data included:

  • 28.6% of settings had no staff absent (with 49% having staff absence of 5 per cent or less) and 13.14% of settings had no children absent
  • 15.8% of settings reported staff absence rates of more than one third but only 7.8% of settings reported child absences at the same level
  • More than one in ten settings reported at least half of their staff members were unable to work
  • 2% reported staff absence rates of 80% or higher.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, chief exec of NDNA said: “It is clear that the Covid crisis, alongside the associated shortage of staff in early years settings, is not over yet. Our ongoing survey illustrates how nurseries across the UK continue to struggle with the impacts of these absence rates.

“With the infection rate among nursery settings still high, we’ve seen 15% of staff absent on average in the UK and 12% of children who would normally attend missing out as well. These are reflected in official statistics, which last week showed similar figures for staff and student absences.

“Nearly one in five nurseries which had at least a third of their staff team missing and 10% of respondents had only half of their staff members able to work in the beginning of February. Around this time, Scottish settings showed concerning levels of absences – with a quarter of both staff and children not being able to attend. Welsh settings reported absence rates that were higher than the UK average as well.  

“These absence levels can mean partial or total closure for some settings as they juggle rotas just to have enough qualified staff to remain open and can mean children are not spending the same amount of time with their key person or worker.

“It’s also clear that as January progressed, more children were off, missing out on vital learning opportunities in their early years setting. We know that these absences leave nurseries with reduced incomes, further hampering efforts to recover and remain sustainable.

“For nurseries, these challenges are continuing to impact on their businesses significantly. Governments must work with the sector on ways to encourage more people into the workforce. This could include fast-track opportunities, employment support programmes or bridging qualifications, to enable people from other sectors with the right skillset to come into early years.”

To access the current survey go to this link which is being updated each week. We will be reporting regularly on the findings.

Date Published: February 16, 2022