There is growing concern that too many specialist Early Years Teachers are leaving the early years workforce without being replaced by new graduates. Early years organisation PACEY, and union Voice, are joining forces to find out more about what is happening and what can be done. Together they are conducting a joint study to better understand how many graduate-level teachers are leaving the early years profession and why – and how this trend can be reversed.
PACEY’s chief executive, Liz Bayram, says: ‘Graduate leadership is strongly associated with narrowing the gap between our most and least disadvantaged children. However, we are hearing increasing reports of Early Years Teacher training courses closing, and a rapid decline in the number of qualified Early Years Teachers, as fewer students choose the early years sector for their career.
‘The Government is currently implementing its Workforce Strategy, and is in need of robust evidence about why this is happening, and how to address the decline. PACEY and Voice are working together to ensure this major issue is addressed before we reach a tipping point.’
Deborah Lawson, general secretary of Voice, says: ‘We know that teaching in the early years is very rewarding professionally, but sadly not as rewarding financially once you qualify, because of the continued lack of equivalent Qualified Teacher Status.
‘We also know that there are many barriers to becoming an Early Years Teacher. Many childcare settings are struggling to retain their qualified graduates. Low funding for the early education and childcare entitlement, coupled with increasing overheads, means they cannot afford to compete with the pay and conditions offered by primary schools. We need to address this issue head on or risk losing a crucial component of the early years workforce. To do this we need to gain an in-depth understanding of the current challenges faced by Early Years Teachers, and how these can be overcome.’
The PACEY/Voice Early Years Teacher study will spend two months gathering evidence from Early Years Teachers, Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT) course leaders and current and past EYITT students on a range of issues, including:
- Barriers to recruitment and retention of Early Years Teachers
- Availability of graduate-level early years teaching courses and different routes
- Career aspirations and prospects of graduate early years students
- Career pathways of qualified Early Years Teachers, and
- How to improve graduate early years qualifications.
The findings will be used to build a formal set of policy recommendations that PACEY and Voice will be making to the Government early next year, as it firms up plans on how to increase recruitment and retention of specialist graduates in early years settings.
Liz Bayram of PACEY adds: ‘This a critical opportunity to address long held concerns about specialist early years graduate qualifications, and we would encourage anyone interested to take part in the survey. Your views and experience matter.'
Find the survey at: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/EYTsurvey.
The deadline to respond was Monday 15 January 2018.