Alliance joins DfE and Ofsted to tackle early years workload

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The Pre-school Learning Alliance has teamed up with the Department for Education and Ofsted to tackle workload pressures on early years staff.


The joint project follows the Alliance’s Minds Matter survey last year into mental health and well-being in the early years, which found that one in four of the 2,000 respondents had considered leaving the early years sector due to stress and mental health difficulties.

Paperwork and administration were the main source of stress for childcare practitioners.

The primary aim of the joint project is to identify areas where pressures could be reduced and areas where misconceptions about what is required may be creating unnecessary work.

Focus groups will be held over the next month to gather views from practitioners across the early years sector on current workload demands. A sector-wide online survey in the spring will give all practitioners the chance to share their views.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said, ‘Early years practitioners play an absolutely vital role in children’s early learning and development, and the passion and dedication of the workforce is something to be both admired and commended. That said, it's clear from our research that the demands of working in the sector are taking their toll, and it is simply not right that day-to-day working life should be having such a detrimental impact on practitioners’ mental and physical health, relationships and, in some cases, their ability to do their jobs properly.

‘With Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework currently under consultation, now is an ideal opportunity for early years providers to have their say on this important issue. As such, we urge all practitioners to take part in this project ensure that their voices are part of what is an absolutely vital discussion.’

Children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi said, ‘It is really important that we help cut unnecessary workload for early years staff so they can focus on supporting children’s development. That’s why we welcome this new project led by the Pre-school Learning Alliance which will look into the type of pressures the early years workforce face and how we can best support staff.’

Gill Jones, Ofsted early education deputy director, added, ‘I want childminders and nurseries to focus on what matters: looking after young children in a safe environment in which they learn and develop well. We certainly don’t want anyone in an early years setting to do anything specifically for Ofsted, and which creates extra work for them. That is why we have worked hard in recent years to dispel myths about what Ofsted does and doesn’t want when we carry out inspections.

‘Our draft education inspection framework is out to consultation but our approach to paperwork will remain the same: early years settings should not prepare paperwork specifically for Ofsted, and they should not bother with consultants telling them what Ofsted wants.’

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