Early Years Teachers 'doing more work for same pay'

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Most early years teachers don’t receive graduate-level pay, unlike the majority of those with Qualified Teacher Status, a survey has found.

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And the majority of current EYT students want to work in early years classes in schools as a result.

According to research from Voice and PACEY, only 37 per cent of those with EYT Status had improved pay as a result of qualifying. This compared with 66 per cent of those with QTS who said their income improved as a result of their qualification. The report’s authors said this inequality is ‘simply wrong’.

The news is evidence of the disparity between Early Years Teacher Status, and QTS. The Government says EYTS is equivalent to QTS – but EYTS has been beset by recruitment problems because of the lack of pay and recognition.

One course leader quoted in the survey reported instances where increased responsibility was not matched by pay.

‘The majority of graduate employment-based trainees remain in the same job roles they had at the beginning of their training. On gaining EYTS, some have more responsibilities without improved pay’ they said.

The report said, ‘It is simply wrong that an early years teacher working in a PVI setting cannot earn the same or enjoy the same recognition as a nursery school or reception teacher – despite the fact that they are delivering the same curriculum and have undergone comparable training.’

Despite EYTs receiving up to £14,000 of Government funding to train, the number of recruits has been in consistent decline. Numbers have been less than 40 per cent of the Government’s target of 2,400 for every year following the scheme’s launch in 2013-14, when it attracted 2,327 recruits. Just 595 students started EYT courses in 2017-18. An investigation by Nursery World in 2016 found that 18 EYITT-accredited training providers no longer offered EYITT, with many citing poor recruitment as the reason.

Going to schools

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The majority of course leaders and students report difficulties with getting jobs as EYTs: 58 per cent of course leaders and 64 per cent of those with EYTS say this.

Unsurprisingly, nearly half of current students say they are likely to go on to gain QTS so they can work in a school. Median QTS pay is around £22 per hour, more than double the average pay of an EYT (on average pay of £10 per hour.)

Past students are less likely to opt for schools: 37 per cent of past students reported either holding QTS, being in the process of gaining QTS or planning to gain the status in the near future.

The most popular options for current students are independent schools, chosen by three-quarters (70 per cent), and academies (65 per cent), both of which are free to set their own pay scales.

The report said, ‘Schools are emphatically the employer of choice for the majority of both current and prospective EYTs…PVI settings were less popular, with PVI preschools or playgroups chosen by 51 per cent of current students and day nurseries by 47 per cent. Even fewer – around 30 per cent – of past students expressed an interest in working in a PVI [setting].’

To help their trainees get jobs, 68 per cent of course leaders were in favour of granting QTS to early years teachers, though some were worried about the probable consequence of losing graduate staff in nurseries to schools.

The Department for Education has acknowledged that EYTs have ‘limited choices’ as regulations do not allow them to lead maintained nursery or reception classes and has said it will consult over amending regulations to allow this. The DfE’s early years workforce strategy said ‘It is likely that some graduates are choosing to take initial teacher training leading to QTS rather than early years initial teacher training because it allows them to work in both maintained schools (with the associated schoolteachers’ pay and conditions) and early years settings.’ However, no consultations have been launched to date.

PACEY and Voice have called for the replacement of EYTS with a new early years specialist route to QTS as ‘the only realistic way to improve the pay, conditions, career pathways and professional status’ of early years graduates.

The Government says employers are responsible for setting the pay and conditions for their employees and says it has provided funds for professional development in pre-school settings through a £20m social mobility fund. A DfE spokeswoman added, ‘We recognise the skills that Early Years Teachers bring to the early years workforce.  We continue to support graduates into the sector through bursaries and employer incentives, as well as developing the skills of those already working in the sector and we are considering a range of approaches to supporting graduates in the early years workforce.’

  • The survey garnered 428 responses and ran between November 2017 and January 2018.

PACEY and Voice’s recommendations

To stem the exodus of specialist graduates working in early years, the DfE should:

1. Allow Early Years Teachers to lead nursery and Reception classes in maintained schools.

2. Reinstate the target that every setting in England should benefit from graduate pedagogical leadership.

3. Provide sustainable funding for the free entitlement that enables settings to be able to pay graduate-level wages to at least one member of staff.

4. Provide better guidance and support for settings about graduate qualifications.

5. Require more transparency of EYITT course structures and outcomes.

6. Improve the data used for reporting and planning for EYITT qualifications.

7. Replace EYTS with a new early years specialist route to QTS, specialising in early years from birth to seven.

8. Establish accessible and affordable routes for individuals holding EYTS, or its predecessor Early Years Professional Status (EYPS), to be able to access routes to obtain QTS as a priority.

9. Require Reception teachers to have early years training.

 

VIEWS FROM THE SECTOR

‘Inter-disciplinary research reinforces the importance of early childhood and the need for a highly qualified workforce, yet our early years sector is facing a barrage of complex issues. So many small settings are closing, larger chains are expanding and there is now no statutory requirement for local authorities to keep exact details of the qualifications of the early years workforce in their areas. The report reinforces yet again that our highly qualified and trained EYTs and EYPs continue to face inequality of opportunity, pay, status and parity with other teaching professionals. This is an issue not only at a policy level but for the sector itself.’

Dr Eunice Lumsden, head of early years, University of Northampton

‘Government recognises the quality that Early Years Teachers bring to supporting outcomes for children in day nursery settings. These private, voluntary and independent nurseries make up the lion’s share of providers delivering the 30 hours funded childcare scheme.

‘Our concern is that practitioners may enter the teaching route via early years, then leave for better pay and conditions in schools. To encourage Early Years Teachers to teach in schools could make the retention issue worse.

‘Government needs to support the PVI sector to retain highly qualified staff so they can continue to provide high-quality early education by addressing the funding issue. The Treasury Select Committee recently recommended increasing the funding rate, which would certainly allow employers to pay highly qualified staff appropriately.’

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive, NDNA

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