Improve early years workforce, Scottish Government told
Early years practitioners must be better qualified and have equal pay, concludes independent review
Investment in staff is needed if childcare in Scotland is to remain focused on quality education and children’s wellbeing, according to a review of the early learning and childcare workforce.
The review, led by children’s expert Professor Iram Siraj, praises Scotland’s ambition for early years education but warns it has relied on lower funding than other sectors of education. It also points to a disparity of quality and working conditions between local authority and ‘partner’ providers.
Staff should be better qualified to concentrate on learning, receive at least the living wage and have better career opportunities, the report recommends.
“The workforce must be ‘fit-for-purpose’; and its purpose is to improve children’s wellbeing and learning outcomes, and to support parents and communities in raising their children as well as providing time to study or work,” it reads.
The Scottish Government has allocated £1m for staff developments, but acknowledges some of the recommendations are “challenging”.
Education Secretary Angela Constance welcomed the report. “The early years are a crucial point in a child’s development, therefore it is vital that we invest in those tasked with caring for and educating our young children. By boosting skills and recognising the value of the early years workforce, we will attract the brightest and best to the sector,” she said.
Bodies which formed the reference group which helped with independent review will help inform how the funding is used, and will report in the autumn, she said.
Public services trade union UNISON said the recommendations echoed those made in a similar review in 2006. Carol Ball, chair of the union’s Scotland education issues group said: “It’s now time to get on with delivering a national childcare service that we can all be proud of. We cannot just keep planning for the next generation and ignoring the needs of today’s young children and families. Our children deserve better.”
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