Researchers seek reasons for fall in early years graduates

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PACEY and Voice are conducting joint research into why Early Years Teachers are leaving the sector, amid concerns that courses are closing, and that fewer students are choosing early years teaching as a career.

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As part of the study, past and current graduates are being asked to fill in a survey

The aim of the study is to better understand how many graduate-level teachers are leaving the workforce and why, and consider how this trend can be reversed.

The research is in response to growing concerns that a rising number of Early Years Teachers (EYTs) are leaving the early years sector without being replaced by new graduates.

PACEY and Voice will spend two months gathering evidence from Early Years Teachers, Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT) course leaders, and former 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;
  • ways to improve graduate early years qualifications.

To inform the research, they are calling on EYTs, EYITT course leaders and students to take part in a survey. The deadline for responses is 15 January 2018.

Findings from the study will be used to build a formal set of policy recommendations that PACEY and Voice will put forward for the Government’s workforce strategy.

Liz Bayram, chief executive of PACEY, said, ‘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 and fewer students choose the early years sector for their teaching 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.’

She added, ‘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.’

Deborah Lawson, general secretary of Voice, said, ‘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.’

  • To take part in the survey click here.
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