Workforce stress levels revealed by recent survey

Neil Henty
Monday, October 1, 2018

The recent Minds Matter survey conducted by the Pre-school Learning Alliance has revealed the depth of stress levels in the broader early years workforce.

CC

The recent Minds Matter survey conducted by the Pre-school Learning Alliance has revealed the depth of stress levels in the broader early years workforce. It is perhaps not very surprising that stress levels are so high in the sector, but even so the figures make for troublesome and uncomfortable reading. The fact that so many respondents, which included childminders, had cited both mental and physical health issues associated with stress levels should set alarm bells ringing at the Department for Education (how many times have I written that phrase over the last few years), but it is clear that the message is not getting through.

As the survey suggests (and you can read more about the findings on page 16)… ‘The main sources of stress cited by respondents were high workloads (in particular, paperwork and administration), financial pressures stemming from a lack of adequate government funding, and low pay.‘

Childminding and childcare can bring such joy and fulfilment to those in the workforce, but the constant worry over finances for many, threatens to overshadow the passion that many feel for their work. It is little wonder that such a high percentage of respondents were thinking of leaving childcare as a career.

What would then happen to the government’s childcare drive and its underlying goal of getting more women into the wider workforce to boost the economy? I find it darkly ironic that the childcare ‘revolution’ was driven by this desire to improve the economy, while underfunding the very settings that were supposed to be the bedrock of the plan, which in turn, threatens to pull the plug on it. Not really ironic though, is it? In many ways, the government is lucky that there are so many working in childminding who have enough passion in their work, and enough commitment to the children they care for, to carry on, despite the pressures and strains. And to continue to innovate and develop at the same time.

On to better news, it is always heartening to see members of the wider education sector represented in the Queen’s honours list, and even more so to see members of the early years workforce honoured (details on page 16). Congratulations to all those listed.

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