Teather thinks more men are needed to raise the status of Early Years


 Today, this  appeared in Nursery World Magazine:

“Ms Teather told delegates that more needed to be done to raise the status of early years professionals, and revealed the Government’s plans to publish a workforce review in the summer, which will consult with practitioners on the future of the qualification in the long-term and whether it is ‘fit for purpose’.”  Really? This study from Wolverhampton’s Centre for Development and Applied Research in Education found that Early Years Professionals are ‘a force for good’  EYPS is certainly not perfect but is it ‘unfit for purpose’?

“She said, ‘The EYP intended to try and raise the status, but it hasn’t done that and we know that. This is precisely the reason why we need to have a long-term think about our strategy.’” ‘Long Term think’; what does that mean exactly? Stick it on the back burner? Waste more time and money coming to the conclusion that Early Years is very important especially for deprived children; that graduate led settings lead to better outcomes for childrenI thought money was scarce.

“‘There is not an easy fix. Sadly some of it is down to the majority of women in the sector. The status could be raised if a few more men were involved.

‘Men are willing to go into the youth sector, but not this one (early years). I think it’s to do with the status.’”  Well, I’m no expert but I think it’s mostly to do with the money. Look here for the pay on offer to early years staff. More playworkers and youth workers are men. The pay is better. There seem to be far more male secondary school teachers than primary school ones. Although payscales are the same in primary & secondary, because of their relative size there are far more opportunities for promotion in secondary schools and hence higher wages. In primary schools the proportion of male heads compared to male teachers is higher; Heads are paid more than teachers.

“Her comments were in response to delegates’ questions about the future of the EYP and why it still isn’t considered equal to the QTS.” I assume she didn’t answer this question.

“Claire Richmond, manager of a Coventry nursery, said, ‘We only have 20 EYPs in Coventry and there are 220 nurseries, by 2015 there won’t be enough to qualify for local authority funding.’” From what I understand, the Government’s answer to this is to cut the requirement to have an EYP in every setting by 2015!

“Her concerns were echoed by Patricia Hatherley, nursery manager at St Matthew’s Nursery and Daycare in Northumberland, who claimed that practitioners with EYP status working in the PVI sector are ‘stuck’, and still only earning £13,000 to £14,000 in a manager’s position.” Exactly. Where is the incentive to stay working in Early Years which everyone, including Ms Teather says is a vitally important phase in children’s lives with this level of wages?

“In response, Ms Teather said that the Government has committed to funding the EYP next year but it wanted to have a proper strategic look at the qualification and welcomed practitioners’ feedback.” We don’t need to keep inventing new graduate level qualifications every few years. We need to ensure the graduates we have are rewarded appropriately for what they do. Nursery funding needs to be at a high enough level to enable nurseries to pay staff appropriately. National payscales and funding to enable these to be paid would be worth exploring. It’s not just about private nurseries exploiting staff and creaming off profits either. I own and manage a private nursery and pay all my staff at least £1.40 above the minimum wage. This isn’t very much and yet I don’t make any profit. I earn less than I did 5 years ago as a teacher in a state school, even without taking into account sick pay and the ‘gold plated’ pension and despite the fact I have far more responsibility and work with more vulnerable children.

This practitioner’s feedback is that Ms Teather isn’t ‘fit for purpose’.

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4 Responses to Teather thinks more men are needed to raise the status of Early Years

  1. happymaz says:

    Funnily enough I didn’t think EYPS was intended to raise our status. I thought it was to improve outcomes for children, based on sound research findings. Silly me. I did it for all the wrong reasons, and that must be why I earn less now that I own my own pre-school than I did 13 or so years ago as a nursery assistant with no responsibilities.
    I have emailed Ms Teather to express my surprise at what she has said about needing more men in childcare to raise the status of the workforce. I have offered her my full support in providing as much feedback as she can handle, in whatever form or forum she’d like to arrange. My gut feeling is that she won’t take me up on my offer, which is sad because a nice Government adviser’s post would suit me down to the ground once I close my group in July.
    To my mind no Government has truly understood that quality costs, and that it is untenable and unethical to expect lowly paid early years practitioenrs to pay the price from the Bank of Goodwill. This particular branch may be closing down, but many thousands of us up and down the country are paying for Government rhetoric and our accounts are quickly becoming overdrawn.

  2. Speaking as a male teacher (1 of the 48 who teach in state Nurseries!) who has just taken on a Nursery class in a Primary school I find the whole situation crazy! I did a Primary PGCE that didn’t even touch Early Years, yet I am allowed to teach in Nursery. The EYP qualification would give me an Early Years paper qualification, but what would be my motivation for doing it? I don’t feel any barrier to promotion without it, and I can develop professionally without it. I think the whole system needs to be simplified. I’m happy that there are many different routes in to teaching, but surely they all need to end up with the same qualification? This situation seems particularly messy at Nursery level, where state schools are in direct competition with private Nurseries. The adult to child ratios are different for state/private which seems a bit mad, and state schools don’t have to create a profitable business to keep going. Not a level playing field at all!

    • anpa2001 says:

      I’m sure you’re right – there’s no point you doing EYPS.
      It was good for me in a private nursery though as as I had no early years qualification like you.
      It is all complicated and I agree there should be one qualification or at least an agreed equivalent in nursery between QTS and EYPS.

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