More Great Childcare – My Personal Thoughts – Part Three   4 comments

Still looking at the Executive Summary

‘There is nothing more important in early education than the quality of staff who are delivering it’

Oh so true;

Early years staff must actually  like children – no, be passionate about children,

Early years staff must be motivated – lets face it there are many tasks that some would consider unacceptable day in and day out – yes all the ones that include body fluids, then there is the long hours and the low pay, the noise levels of excited or upset babies and children, the constant repeating of things as young children learn what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, the making do in less than ideal circumstances – maybe having to set up and put away the environment every day, maybe not having the most suitable equipment have have to adapt what do have and make the most of it.

Early years staff must understand how children learn, must realise that young children are not little adults – they are children.

Early years staff must be prepared to put the children’s needs before those of anyone else, they must be prepared to stand up for the rights of the child.

So YES government – there is nothing more important than the quality of the staff.

‘….the quality of the workforce and qualifications on offer at the moment are not good enough’

I would entirely agree that the qualifications on offer at the moment are not good enough, they are not robust enough – and more importantly they do not focus on the right things.

I used to teach and assess level 3 NVQ’s – my personal ethos meant that I made sure that any person that I taught or assessed would have earned their qualification.

However I was told I expected too much of my students (most of the students didn’t think so – only those who were not on the course for the right reasons) – even the external verifier said I expected too much – sorry – too much – well I disagreed and having seen the  results of some of those tutors and assessors who do not have such high expectations of their student – I think that I was more than justified in having high expectations.

Being able to put together a nice looking portfolio is one skill, being able to cross reference is another skill, being able to be creative and tick boxes that covered x,y and z when actually only covered x and barley even looked at y and z is another skill.

But I question that these skills actually give anyone the skills needed to look after young children.

My list (above) of the qualities I would like to see in early years staff are dare I suggest more important on the ground floor of a pre school setting? And I say ground floor on purpose because that is where the staff should be most of the time – at the child’s level -so on the floor directly supporting and doing ‘in the head’ observations, on chairs that are meant for cuddling and reading stories and so on.

Now don’t get me wrong I am not against qualifications and indeed support anyone who wants to further their own knowledge and understanding either through a formal qualification or through self study and an inquisitive mind.

But if we are to have the high quality early years staff that children deserve to have and should have – we must recruit the right people into the profession – and good though certificates of qualifications are, it is the personal skills that should come first, before employing anyone, before enrolling them on a formal  early years related qualification.

And if you don’t understand why I am saying this – take a look at industry who went down the graduate route and stopped promoting from the ground floor up – my husband worked in manufacturing for many years and is still employed in a related field – his most used phrase? ‘They don’t have a clue about how things work, what is possible and what is not – the don’t understand how it works in practice’

Also take a look at the NHS – have the changes been for the better?

To conclude we need both – but a formal qualification is not the only thing needed if we are to have high quality early years staff.

Moving on

Staff are on low pay and in too many cases lack basic skills’

mmm pay – the government are fixated on the idea that staff are on low pay because they lack qualifications – or basic skills.


They are on low pay because childcare is seen as a low paid job, a job that anyone can do, a job that is not valued by the government, by many members of society – and it is still seen largely as ‘women’s work’

If the government and society put  a higher value on caring for children then we would start to get somewhere. I read in the media that Ms Truss herself employs a nanny – I wonder how much she pays the nanny, I wonder what formal qualification this person has.

I am not commenting on the nanny,  but on the trust that Ms.Truss places in the person caring for her children. I wonder if it was the persons qualification?, the pay she required? that made <Ms.Truss chose this person – or was it her ‘gut reaction’ that this person would meet her children’s needs? her personality?, her practical skills? her warmth? her flexibility with hours?and all the other reasons that parents have when choosing the person / setting to care for their child – be it a nanny or a childminder or a group setting.

I think anyone who has used childcare for their own child knows what a difficult decision it is – and knows that it is much more than qualifications or even Ofsted grades that inform these decisions.

So coming back to pay – and the connection with qualifications – I suggest it is the persons skills in what they do that matters – and indeed these may be shaped and influenced by qualifications taken – but if you don’t have the skills built in as a natural part of who you are then it does not matter how many qualifications you have ……

……… and in so many sectors of ‘work’ in this country lack of qualifications do not equal lack of pay – skills in the job equal pay …..

…….. some examples footballers, pop stars, celebrities, authors …. and if I may be so bold MP’s ( and in MP’s cases I mean in being an MP  – not in having skills in whichever area you currently are minister for)

So in my opinion the biggest factor in keeping the pay of staff in the early years so low is societies lack of value of the skills of early years staff.

Which means of course no matter how many qualifications a early years person has, no matter what new title they come up with – pay will not change until society places a higher value on those tasked with the most responsible job in the world – caring for other people’s children.

And I am still on page 6!

Posted February 2, 2013 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

4 responses to “More Great Childcare – My Personal Thoughts – Part Three

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  1. Pingback: 1:6 ratio for children aged 2 years

  2. Penny – you certainly know how to hit the nail on the head! Your views of personal skills as a requirement above any qualification and your comments on low pay and public perception of childcare workers is worded very well. Perhaps I should have read post 3 before commenting on post 4 as this is what I was trying to say but you have said it far better!!

    • LOL

      However I think it good that gets worded in other ways – because not everyone understands what I am trying to say, and not everyone has the ability to ‘skim over’ the spelling errors and typos!

  3. Penny you are so right, i see so many childcare workers who have very good qualification but no warmth or empathy with the children.

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