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Early years education, childcare and playwork

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The introduction of the National Childcare Strategy in 1997 has led to a boost in provision of early years education, childcare and playwork settings. In full day-care settings, the number of employees has increased in recent years. Sector information

Employment within the sector suffers from the contradiction of caring for children at a very formative age on one hand and on the other, being regarded as a low paid sector with low levels of qualifications, highs staff turnover and difficulties in recruitment. Sector information

The provision of childcare is highly influenced by the ‘history’ of childcare provision in different local contexts. Regional dimension

Occupations can be divided between those who are directly in contact with children (e.g. nursery nurses or managers of a setting), and those who work more from a distance to children and their families (e.g. trainers or regulators). Occupations

Most people working in the sector are female, with the largest proportion of men as paid employees (12.5%) and volunteers (26.1%) in out of school clubs. Equal opportunity issues

The proportion of staff in this sector from an ethnic minority background is less compared with the U.K. workforce as a whole. Equal opportunity issues

Using the Labour Force Survey, the majority of staff hold either level 2 or level 3 qualifications. Education and training

   

Sector information

This contains an overview of the sector as a whole, details future trends in employment together with skill gaps and workforce development issues.

The early years education, childcare and playwork sector provides childcare, education and playwork for children from birth to eight years.

Employment within the sector suffers from a contradiction. It provides childcare and education for children in a very formative period in a child’s development. Therefore, it is vital that staff working with babies and children are well trained. Paradoxically, the early years sector has suffered from under-investment and low status. It is regarded as a low paid sector with low levels of qualifications, high staff turnover and growing difficulties in recruitment.

Since the introduction of the National Childcare Strategy in 1997, the sector has increased massively. It has been estimated that the UK children's day care nurseries market was worth £2.7 billion in 2003. The children's nurseries market has grown rapidly in the last 10 years, and is now more than seven times the size (in nominal terms) than at the end of the 1980s. Increasing demand from working mothers as well as the governmental investment has led to a boost of provision of early years care, education and playwork settings.

Providers for early years education, childcare and playwork include:

  • full day care
  • childminders
  • crèches
  • sessional care
  • out of school clubs and holiday playschemes
  • family centres
  • nannies
  • LEA nursery schools, nursery classes and reception classes

Excluded are relatives; nannies (working only for one family in their home); provision of less than two hours; and children who are wholly looked after e.g. by the local authority, unless they are attending one of the settings above.

Source: Lang and Buisson 2004a, Early Years NTO 2003 and Early Years NTO 2001

Early years education, childcare and playwork organisations

All employers providing care, education and playwork are required to register under the Children Act 1989 (as amended by the Care Standards Act 1999) if they are not closely related to the children, and are working for two or more hours a day; for reward; and outside the child’s own home.

There are many different types of organisations offering early years, education and childcare:

  • independent private settings working for profit owned by companies or individuals, ranging from large nursery chains with hundreds of settings to owner-manager with only one setting. Workplace nurseries are classed within the private sector even though they may be run for the benefit of particular employees.
  • childminders are self-employed individuals working from home. Increasingly, childminders are forming ‘childminding networks’.
  • nannies are sometimes self-employed, but more often are employees of a family. Some nannies work for agencies.
  • voluntary sector comprises groups operated by a voluntary management committee and run for the benefit of the community rather than for profit (e.g. pre-school playgroups, parent/toddler groups, community day nurseries). Despite its name, most workers in the voluntary sector are paid employees, not volunteers.
  • public sector provision includes school-based services, such as nursery classes, and nursery schools, local authority day nurseries and nursery centres.

Source: Early Years NTO 2001

Changes in early years and childcare settings, 2000

Table shows the number of day nursery, playgroups/pre-school groups, registered childminders, out of school clubs, holiday schemes and family centres there were in 2000 together with comments on provision in each setting.

* independent number only

Source: Early Years NTO 2001, table 1.

Registered childcare providers and places in England, 31 March 2003

Table shows the number of providers (and the percentage of the total), number of places and the average places per provider by type of provider including childminders, sessional day carte, full day care, out of school day care and crèche day care.

* Ofsted shows at total of 99,300, which it states includes around 1,700 providers offer more than one type of day care, e.g. full and sessional day care, which are double counted to reflect the total number of childcare places of different types available.

Source: Eborall 2003, chapter 4.3.

Employment in the sector

The number of paid employees has increased in recent years, especially in full day-care settings. In 2003, 82,550 people worked in early years settings (4,350 in nursery schools; 43,900 in primary schools with nursery and reception classes; and 34,300 in primary schools with reception classes). (No data were available for 2001).

Changes in numbers of paid employees in childcare, 2001-2003

 

- no data are available

Source: SureStart 2004, table 4.1. Based on MORI data.

Employment in the nursery sub-sector

Nursery sub-sector capacity has more than quadrupled between 1990 and 2004, concentrated solely in the independent sector (private and voluntary providers) at a time when local authority provision has been decreasing: though local authority provision has started to grow again. As the average size of nurseries has been increasing, growth in nursery places has outstripped growth in the number of nurseries.

Source: Lang and Buisson 2004 and Early Years NTO 2001

Future employment in the early years education, childcare and playwork sector

At present no information is available about registered childcare providers’ staff numbers. Using average numbers of staff per provider from the 2001 DfES Childcare Workforce Surveys and information from Ofsted, TOPSS (the workforce development body for social care) estimated the numbers of employees in day care provisions as shown in the following table.

Major general impacts on the future of employment in the sector are:

  • increase in demand for services due to the national childcare strategy, the sure start and other governmental initiatives
  • new government frameworks and targets such as the regulatory structure (OfSTED took over from local authorities) and new training and qualification structures
  • new sources of funding for the national childcare strategy making additional demands of staff e.g. in terms of grant-writing, administration and monitoring
  • low wages (close to the minimum wage), which leads to growing competition from other sectors offering better pay, flexible conditions, and less demanding work
  • low pay and low status also deters recruitment and affects retention, especially for men
  • the sector compromises a large number of very small organisations, few local authorities with an expansion model to cope with government plans, and suffers from having a reputation for low wages and low status

Source: Early Years NTO 2001

Recruitment and retention in the sector

The sector faces the overall problem of a rise in demand for its services and a tight labour market. Whilst it is difficult to say what the introduction of the SureStart and further plans of the government mean for the size of the workforce, it is clear that government plans will not be achieved without an increase in the numbers of early years practitioners.

Many settings experience massive staff turnover:

  • around half to three quarters of all settings have been involved in recruiting over the last 12 months
  • many settings also lost staff in the last 12 months, but at a lower rate than they were recruiting
  • the highest turnover rates are for ‘out of schools clubs’ and full day-care settings (23% and 18%)
  • the lowest turnover rates were reported by primary schools (9%)

There are a number of government initiatives, which will need to be staffed, and these will call for workers with new skills or combination of skills, such as:

  • additional inspectors for employment by OfSTED
  • cross-disciplinary staff for early excellence centres and sure start schemes
  • staff with experience in of community work and the needs of families in disadvantaged areas for neighbourhood nursery initiatives
  • extra tutors, assessors and mentors for the required increase in training, qualifications and quality assurance schemes

Retention has been identified as a problem for the sector and there are a number of reasons. Workers are usually young women who intend to leave the occupation when they have their own children, or in case of childminders, women with young children who wish to stay at home until they go to school. Also, pay and condition compare poorly with other occupations. Finally, quality and qualification thresholds are rising, contributing to professionalisation but making this a more demanding occupation to pursue.

TOPSS, the workforce development body for social care, quotes a DfES survey, in which recruitment and retention problems in early years childcare settings were reported. 59% of nurseries, 26% of playgroups and pre-schools and 49% of out-of-school playgroups reported recruitment difficulties. The destination of more than 50% of staff leaving was either other jobs within the childcare sector or within schools/the education sector.

Sources: SureStart 2004, Eborall 2003, Early Years NTO 2001 and Cameron, et al. 2001

Future influences on the sector

In 1998, the government introduced the National Childcare Strategy:

  • to increase the early years education and childcare by expanding expenditure
  • the integration of governmental responsibility for these areas in a single interdepartmental unit (the Sure Start unit)
  • the establishment of a network of children’s centres in disadvantaged areas providing good quality childcare with early education, family and health services, and training and employment advice
  • the creation of further new childcare places
  • free part-time and full-time early education and care for all three and four year olds

In 2003/2004, the government published ‘every child matters’, a consultation strategy for taking forward the vision and plans for workforce reform and the introduction of common occupational standards across sectors.

Source: SureStart 2004, SureStart website 2004 and National Childcare Strategy fact sheet

Early Years NTO states, that the National Childcare Strategy and other governmental ideas will increase the employment in the sector massively. In 2001, they anticipated that there would be a need for:

  • 1.6 million new childcare places (with 150,000 new workers), 45,000 of which centres in disadvantaged areas and 145,000 new places with childminders (15,000 childminders in 450 new networks)
  • 100,000 new early education places for 3 and 4 years olds
  • 500 Sure Start schemes and 100 Early Excellence Centres (unquantified numbers of additional staff with cross-disciplinary skills and training)
  • 250 nursery schools to expand their range of services
  • 230,000 people to be enabled to get childcare qualification via LSC funding
  • 1,000 people to be supported to get qualified teacher status or a senior practitioner qualification

Source: Lang and Buisson 2004 and Early Years NTO 2001

Playwork, playwork education and training is also on the government agenda. The National Childcare Strategy is making provision for an input of new playworkers and setting targets for them to become trained and qualified. In 2002, it was expected, that a further 60,000 new workers will come into the sector.

Source: Playwork Unit 2002

Data and charts

Links to the charts contained within this sector are listed.

Changes in numbers of paid employees in childcare and early years, 2001-2003

Table reproduced using data from the SureStart 2004 report and is based on the MORI survey. Table shows the number of paid employees who work in childcare (including full day care, playgroups, out of school clubs and childminders) for 2001 and 2003 together with the percentage change over the 2001-2003 period. Table also shows the number employed in early years (including nursery schools, primary schools with nursery and reception classes, plus primary schools with reception classes) for 2003.

Changes in early years and childcare settings, 2000

Table is compiled using information presented in the Early Years NTO 2001 workforce development plan and shows the number of day nursery, playgroups/pre-school groups, registered childminders, out of school clubs, holiday schemes and family centres there were in 2000 together with comments on provision in each setting.

Registered childcare providers and places in England, 31 March 2003

Table reproduced from the report on the state of the social care workforce (2003). Table shows the number of providers (and the percentage of the total), number of places and the average places per provider by type of provider including childminders, sessional day carte, full day care, out of school day care and crèche day care.

Estimated numbers employed in regulated day care of children under eight in England, 2003

Table shows the estimated numbers employed in regulated day care (including childminders, full day care, sessional day care, out of school day care and crèche day care) together with estimated numbers of managers, supervisors, childcare workers, trainees/students and volunteers. Table is reproduced from the report on the state of the social care workforce in England (2003).

Regional staff turnover rates in early years and childcare settings, 2001

Table shows the staff turnover rates for nurseries, playgroups/pre-school clubs and out of school clubs by region. Table is taken from the report on the state of the social care workforce in England (2003) and is based on the DfES 2001 childcare workforce survey.

Age of paid workforce in childcare, 2004

Bar-chart shows the percentage of the paid workforce by age for full day care, playgroups, out of school clubs and childminders.  Bar-chart compiled using data presented in the SureStart 2004 report and is based on MORI data.

Age of paid workforce in early years, 2004

Bar-chart shows the percentage of the paid workforce in early years including nursery schools and primary schools (nursery and reception classes) by age. Bar-chart compiled using data presented in the SureStart 2004 report and is based on MORI data.

Ethnic minorities in the childcare, education and playwork sector, 2003

Bar-chart based on calculations by IER using the Labour Force Survey 2003 (SOC 2000 = 612). Chart shows the percentage of the childcare, education and playwork sector workforce by ethnic minority group compared to the UK workforce.

Qualification level in the childcare, education and playwork sector, 2003

Bar-chart based on calculations by IER using the Labour Force Survey 2003 (SOC 2000 = 612). Chart shows the percentage of the childcare, education and playwork sector workforce by qualification level compared to the UK workforce.

Percentage of male workforce in childcare and early years provision, 2003

Table shows the percentage of the paid workforce who are male in childcare (including full day care, play groups, out of school clubs and childminders) and early years (including nursery schools and primary schools with nursery and reception classes). Table compiled using MORI data presented in the SureStart 2004 report.

Percentage of workforce with a disability in childcare and early years provision, 2003

Table shows the percentage of the paid workforce in childcare (including full day care, play groups, out of school clubs and childminders) and early years (including nursery schools and primary schools with nursery and reception classes) with a disability. Table compiled using MORI data presented in the SureStart 2004 report.

Regional / national dimension

Information on regional trends and differences.

Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships (EYDCPs)

Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships were set up in each of the 150 local education authorities (LEA) and have a key role to play in early education, childcare and playwork development.

A list of the Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership is on the web.

Although the National Childcare Strategy had played a key role in putting childcare on the political map, the ‘history’ of childcare provision in different local contexts has an important impact on childcare supply and demand. A long history of local authority intervention in and subsidy of childcare greatly facilitates the development of new services and the expansion of existing provision. Areas with no history of formal services are characterised by a strong preference for informal care and a culture of distrust of formal provision.

London

London has a long history of local authority intervention and high levels of maternal employment. Local authority funding was being withdrawn early 2004. A key issue for many providers is how to adapt to a mixed economy of childcare, by shifting form supply-side to demand-side funding.

Source: Harris, et al. 2004

South East commuter area

The local authority has played a minimal role in the childcare market before the introduction of the National childcare strategy in 1997. The childcare market has historically been dominated by the private sector and influenced largely by the needs of well-off parents. Therefore, a key challenge for the EYDCP was to redress the imbalance created by market forces and provide affordable provision for less well-off families.

Source: Harris, et al. 2004

North East city area

This area is characterised by a low level of childcare services. Much of the limited provision that exists has only recently been established through initiatives such as the Sure Start. There seems to be an ingrained culture of distrust of formal childcare as informal provision is strongly favoured and widely available.

Source: Harris, et al. 2004

South West rural area

Until 1998, the council had traditionally been reactive rather than proactive in relation to childcare, which resulted in low levels of provision due to low demand. The establishment of the EYDCP team has led to an increase in provision. The childcare market in the region has to provide flexibility for parents’ work patterns (atypical and/or seasonal), has to be affordable for low income parents and has to overcome the distrust of formal provision and strong tradition of informal care.

Source: Harris, et al. 2004

Regional staff turnover rates in early years and childcare settings, 2001

Turnover rates for nursery staff were, predictably, higher in London, the East and the South East. In any case, there was less regional variation for playgroup staff. A different picture again can be seen for Out of School clubs, which may reflect a different staff mix.

Source: Eborall 2003, chapter 6.4. Based on the DfES 2001 Childcare Workforce Surveys.

Occupations

Information and trends on sectoral occupations.

The main occupational groupings are:

  • managers: manage all aspects of the early years settings (incl. networks or groups of settings). Mangers work directly with children and have a supervisory role over a setting
  • supervisors: practitioners who work directly with children and families. Some supervisors might be deputies, team leaders and nursery nurses
  • school support staff: (including those working in infant, primary or first schools, nursery classes, nursery schools, private nursery schools, special schools and private schools with nursery and/or ‘pre-prep’ sections) who support the teacher in the care and education of the children within the schools
  • assistants: hands on practitioners who work directly with children and families and are supervised by deputies, team leaders, nursery nurses and childminders, some assistants are volunteers

Also, occupations with a distance from hands-on delivery of services to children and families exist:

  • supporters: provide funds and other resources to enable early years provision to operate
  • trainers/developers: support, advise and train those who deliver services to children and families
  • policy makers: set overall policy and frameworks within which early years provision must operate (government officials at national, regional and local level, including members of the early years development and childcare partnership (EYDCPs))
  • regulators and inspectors: register and inspect early years settings and provision. they assess and monitor provision against criteria as part of accreditation and are responsible for quality assurance

Source: Early Years NTO 2003 and Early Years NTO 2001

Main occupational groupings in the sector

Childminders

  • usually work in their own home
  • look after up to six children under eight (including their own). no more than three of the six children should be under five and normally no more than one child can be under one
  • need to undertake an introductory childminding course and first aid training within six month of registering

Early years care and education workers (or nursery nurses or nursery officers)

  • work in different settings such as local authority nursery schools or classes, private day schools, voluntary sector nurseries, child and family centres, community nurseries
  • need to hold appropriate early years qualifications at level 3

Nursery assistants

  • work in the same settings as early years care and education workers, but in a more junior role
  • may hold appropriate ealry years qualifications at level 2

Pre-school and playgroup leaders

  • supervise staff on a day-to-day basis, plan the programme of activities and report to the pre-school or playgroup chair or owner
  • the emphasis of the work is on the learning part and parental involvement in all aspects is promoted
  • the most appropriate qualifications are NVQ at level 3 in Early Years Care and Education, or CACHE level 3 diploma in Pre-School practice

Pre-school and playgroup assistants

  • work in the same settings under the supervision of the pre-school and playgroup leader
  • NVQ level 2 in Early Years Care and Education/CACHE level 2 Certificate in Pre-School Practice is considered the most appropriate qualification for this work

Teaching/classroom assistants

  • support teachers in nursery, primary, secondary and special schools
  • local employers decide what qualifications, skills and experiences are necessary
  • there are national occupational standards and national vocational qualifications specifically for teaching assistants

Learning support assistants (also Special Needs Assistant or Special Needs Auxiliaries)

  • work in primary school and provide in-school-support for pupils with special needs/ disabilities
  • no formal qualifications are required in many cases although previous experience will normally be an asset, but there are national occupational standards and national vocational qualifications for support assistants as with teaching assistants

Out-of-school childcare and playworkers

  • often work in breakfast clubs, after school clubs, or holiday play schemes
  • activities offered can include sports, art and creative activities
  • although half of the staff must have a playwork qualification there are jobs where no formal qualification is necessary

Senior playworkers

  • work with children in the 5-15 age range
  • manage the provision on-site and provide a range of safe and developmental play opportunities
  • a range of training and qualifications is available including the NVQ in Playwork at level 3

Assistant playworker

  • support senior playworker
  • there is no national requirement to hold a formal qualification

Source: Early Years NTO 2003 and Playwork Unit 2002

Estimated numbers employed in regulated day care of children under eight in England, 2003

Source: Eborall 2003, chapter 5.6.

Equal opportunities

Key information on equal opportunity issues specific to the sector.

Gender

Most people in the settings are women, with the largest proportion of men as paid employees (12.5%) and volunteers (26.1%) in out of school clubs.

The percentage of the male workforce in out of schools clubs has changed by -2% over the 2001-2003 period.

Percentage of male workforce in childcare and early years provision, 2003

Source: SureStart 2004, table 4.3. Based on MORI.

Age

In general, people employed in the early years and childcare sector are aged 25 and above, with the majority of people being between 25 and 39 years old. Exceptions are volunteers in independent day nurseries where 60.7% are under 25 and paid support staff in schools where 42.6 % are 40 to 49 years of age. In contrast to the mature workforce, the Early Years NTO reported a lack of funding for mature adult learners, as funding is mainly available for 16–20 year olds.

Age of paid workforce in childcare, 2004

Bar-chart shows the percentage of the paid workforce by age for full day care, playgroups, out of school clubs and childminders.

Source: SureStart 2004, table 4.2. In the Childminder group, percentage within the 20-29 age group were divided equally. Based on MORI data.

Age of paid workforce in early years, 2004

Bar-chart shows the percentage of the paid workforce in early years including nursery schools and primary schools (nursery and reception classes) by age.

Source: SureStart 2004, table 4.2. In the Childminder group, percentage within the 20-29 age group were divided equally. Based on MORI data.

Ethnicity

The proportion of day nursery workers from ethnic minority backgrounds approximates that of the population as a whole (10%).

Source: International Evidence Project 2003

Ethnic minorities in the childcare, education and playwork sector, 2003

Source: Calculations by Heike Behle (IER) using the Labour Force Survey 2003 (SOC 2000 = 612).

The Labour Force survey reveals that for the childcare, education and playwork sector the proportion of white staff is higher than in the overall U.K. workforce. Only 1.2% of the childcare, education and playwork workforce is from an Asian/British Asian background (compared to 4% of the general U.K. workforce).

Disability

9.1 % of the employees in the sector were disabled, which is approximately representative for the whole workforce (9%). The percentage of the childminders in the paid workforce with a disability has increased by 1% over the 2001-2003 period.

Percentage of workforce with a disability in childcare and early years provision, 2003

* equals less than 1% but greater than 0.5%

Source: SureStart 2004, table 4.3. Based on MORI.

A good practice guide for the recruitment and retention of disabled people is available on the SureStart website

Education and training

Education and training information and issues including work-based learning, apprenticeships, vocational qualifications, and further and higher education courses.

Qualification level

The sector has suffered form stereotypical views that it is ‘women’s work that anybody can do’. Additionally, being largely on or close to the National Minimum Wage, makes it difficult for training and qualifications to be financed.

In 2003, the labour force survey shows that:

  • the proportion of employees holding a higher degree (7.6%) is lower than in the UK workforce (18%)
  • about 62% of the staff were awarded with level 2 or level 3 qualifications
  • the proportion of staff holding a level 4 qualification (16.8%) is higher than average in the UK (9.3%)

Expansion within the sector as well as national standards for qualification requirements have led to changes in qualification levels in the sector. In 2003:

  • the proportion of managers in full day-care, playgroups and out of school clubs who hold at least level 3 qualifications has risen to 85% for full day-care, 77% for playgroups and 64 % for out of school clubs
  • the proportion of supervisors and other childcare staff holding level 2 qualifications has risen from 11% in 2001 to 21 % in 2003; a decrease can be seen in those holding level 3; SureStart assumes that this reflects the continued expansion of the full day-care sector and the subsequent increase in numbers of more junior staff
  • the proportion of childminders holding any relevant qualification has risen dramatically from 34% in 2001 to 64% in 2003

Source: SureStart 2004

Qualification level in the childcare, education and playwork sector, 2003

Source: Calculations by Heike Behle (IER) using the Labour Force Survey 2003 (SOC 2000 = 612).

Available qualifications

The main training needs for the sector are identified as:

  • health and safety training (including first aid)
  • food hygiene
  • work with children with special needs

According to the nationally accredited qualifications for Early Years Education, Childcare and Playwork (QCA June 2001), the following vocationally-related qualifications and occupational qualifications are available:

  • assistants such as nursery assistant, Pre-school assistant, play group assistant: Level 2 Certificate and NVQ level 2 in Early Years Care and Education
  • supervisors and leaders e.g. nursery supervisor, pre-school leader, toy library leader, special educational needs supporter: Level 3 Diploma and national certificate, NVQ level 3 in Early Years Care and Education
  • managers of larger/multiple settings, development officer, advanced practitioners: NVQ level 4 in Early Years Care and Education
  • assistant playworker, playworker, holiday playscheme worker, adventure playworker: level 2 Certificate, intermediate certificate, NVQ level 2 in playwork
  • senior playworker/co-ordinator: NVQ level 3 in playwork
  • playworker manager, playworker development officer: NVQ playwork qualification; the sector needs to agree on a set of National Occupational Standards for playwork at level 4 before qualifications can be developed, piloted and included on the Qualifications Framework

OfSTED, the office for standards in education, inspect against the Daycare Regulation, which apply to all out-of-school-care and playwork facilities. Broadly, this means that within a setting:

  • the manager who is present holds at least level 3 qualification (or appropriate qualification)
  • all managers have at least 2 years experience of working in a day-care setting
  • all managers and playworkers have to undergo a police check
  • at least half of the staff holds a level 2 qualification (or appropriate qualification)
  • all staff have induction training (incl. health and safety, child protection policies, procedures)
  • trainees under 17 years of age are supervised at all times

Source: SkillsActive 2004, Playwork Unit 2002 and Early Years NTO 2001


Information on starting work in the sector is available on the Childcare Careers government website

A list of the qualifications available in early years care, education and playwork is available on the SureStart website.

Future development in qualifications for the playwork sector

“Quality Training, Quality Play”, the National Strategy for Playwork Education, Training and Qualification 2002-2005 has stated principles such as accessibility and transferability as the future development of qualifications. Future trends can be described as:

  • education, training and qualifications in playwork should be available through a variety of routes to qualification; a route to qualifications should also take into account previous experience and learning
  • accessibility: qualifications should be accessible geographically and affordable
  • transferability: qualifications should be based on consistent standards at each level, enabling movement between different routes and geographical areas
  • a qualification is necessary that brings in professional status for playwork

Source: Playwork Unit 2002

Research

A list of recent research publications which is intended to be a starting for those wishing for more detail on the sector.

Research on the early years education, childcare and playwork sector focuses upon:

  • connection of the provision of child care and maternal employment
  • international comparison
  • gender mix of the workforce

Sources

icon for content type Cameron, Moss and Owen (1999) Cameron, C., Moss, P. and Owen, C. (1999) Men in the Nursery: Gender and Caring Work. London: Paul Chapman.
icon for content type Fan (1997) Fan, J. (1997) ‘The Welfare Impact of Implicit Income Generated from Childcare in Home-Based Employment’, Journal of Consumer Studies and Home Economics (now called International Journal of Consumer Studies) 21(2): 189-199.
icon for content type Halliday and Little (2001) Halliday, J., and Little, J. (2001) ‘Amongst Women: Exploring the Reality of Rural Childcare’, Sociologia Ruralis 41(4): 423-437.
icon for content type Lewis (2003) Lewis, J. (2003) ‘Developing Early Years Childcare in England, 1997-2002: The Choices for (Working) Mothers’, Social Policy and Administration 37(3): 219-238.
icon for content type McKie, Bowlby and Gregory (2001) McKie, L., Bowlby, S., and Gregory, S. (2001) ‘Gender, Caring and Employment in Britain Acknowledgements’, Journal of Social Policy 30(2): 233-258.
icon for content type Owen (2003) Owen, C. (2003) ‘Men’s Work? Changing the Gender Mix of the Childcare and Early Years Workforce’, Facing the Future Policy Paper 6, Day care Trust, London.
icon for content type Toroyan, Roberts, Oakley, Laing, Mugford and Frost (2003) Toroyan, T., Roberts, I., Oakley, A., Laing, G., Mugford, M., and Frost, C. (2003) ‘Effectiveness of Out-of-Home Day Care for Disadvantaged Families: Randomised Controlled Trial’, British Medical Journal 327(7420): 906-906.

Discussion points

Thought-provoking and challenging questions to start discussions.
  1. What are the future skill needs of the early years education, childcare and playwork sector and what part can careers guidance play in identifying these skills?
  2. How can the paradox of the low status on one hand and the importance of employing highly trained staff be addressed?
  3. How will the introduction of governmental initiatives affect the workforce in the sector?
  4. What role can career guidance play in promoting diversity in the workplace?
  5. How can career guidance address the low qualification reputation of the sector and encourage further professionalism?

Sector summary: early years education, childcare and playwork

This summary gives a brief overview of the key trends in the sector.

Both governmental strategy, and the increased demand for childcare facilities have led to a boom in new early years settings and employment within the sector. The rising demand for its services and a number of governmental activities resulted in recruitment (and retention) problems. Nurseries and out-of-school playgroups in particular reported recruitment difficulties.

The care of young children has been accepted as a vital social task for which well-trained staff are necessary.

The sector suffers from the reputation that it provides services ‘that anybody could do’. As a consequence, wages are low which again deters recruitment and affects retention.

Turnover staff rates for nursery staff are higher in London, the East and the South East. Different pictures can be seen in playgroups/pre-schools and in out-of-school-clubs. Next to general regional variations the ‘history’ of childcare provision plays a role.

A wide range of occupations at all levels is available in the sector, such as childminders, nursery nurses, or classroom assistants.

Most people working in the early years care and playwork settings are white women (about 97%).

The main training needs for the sector are health and safety, food hygiene, and work with children with special needs. A wide range of qualifications is available for the workforce. More than 60 % of the staff are awarded level 2 or level 3 qualifications.

Links and sources

This contains direct links to all the materials used to compile this sector. More in-depth and detailed information can be found in the source materials as only key points have been extracted. In addition, websites and further sources which may be of interest have been included.

Useful websites

Early Years National Training Organisations

The Early Years NTO represents those working with babies and young children in the UK. The websites contains information on sector specific modern apprenticeships, a list of useful links and publications which can be ordered.

Playwork Unit in SkillsActive

The Playwork Unit is part of SkillsActive which is the Sector Skills Council for Active Leisure and Learning. The website contains: links to regional websites; job vacancies; publications on education, training and qualifications in the sector; and information on the national occupational standards.

SureStart

SureStart is a Government programme focusing on childcare provision, the education, health and emotional development of young children plus supporting parents which aims to promote the well-being of children. There are many publications and lots of information on the programme on the website together with information on standards, quality assurances, education and training.

Training Organisation for the Personal Social Services England (TOPSS)

This is an employer-led workforce development body for social care which working other national bodies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are developing a sector skills council. This website contains: regional information on social; information on the national occupational standards; and publications which can be downloaded.