National Review of the Early Years and Childcare
The UNISON Scotland Submission to the Scottish
Executive consultation on the ‘National Review of the Early Years
and Childcare Workforce'.
UNISON Scotland welcomes the opportunity to respond
to the Scottish Executive's consultation on their National Review
of the Early Years and Childcare Workforce.
UNISON Scotland represents over 160,000 members
working mainly in the public sector including members of the early
years and childcare workforce as well as many members who rely
on the services provided by this workforce.
Before answering the specific questions asked within
the review, there are a number of general points that UNISON Scotland
would like to raise. These include UNISON Scotland's general policy
on childcare and education which is stated below:
"We believe in universal, flexible services
for all children, provided by the public sector, delivering
high quality early years education and childcare by appropriately
trained professionals receiving appropriate levels of pay".
UNISON Scotland believes that the public sector
provides a better service and with more qualified staff than other
sectors. However, we dispute the figures given in the report;
it states only 58% of the workforce within the public sector hold
SVQ level 3 qualifications or above while we believe that this
is over 80%. Also, public sector providers are subject to greater
scrutiny than those within the private and voluntary sectors and
routinely face inspections by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education
and the Care Commission as well as councils' own internal quality
UNISON Scotland also has concerns regarding the
funding of this sector. There are far too many funding streams
which are ring-fenced, e.g., Childcare Strategy Funding, Surestart
Funding, Free Education for 3 and 4 year olds and Changing Children's
Lives Funding etc. These should be amalgamated into one fund to
deliver integrated early years education and childcare targeting
more money into providing further flexibility for parents by reducing
bureaucracy. Employers in the public sector should also be encouraged
to access the Working Tax Credit that it available to parents
to help pay for childcare.
UNISON Scotland is concerned that despite a ‘national
review' which seeks a national framework for qualifications and
roles and responsibilities it does not include the issue of a
national pay scale for the workforce. It seems strange that the
workforce should be subjected to national standards in the services
that they provide but unable to access a national payscale.
UNISON Scotland commissioned research which resulted
in the Nursery Nurses in Scotland 2005 Report. One of the research
objectives was to look at the job content, knowledge base and
qualifications of nursery nurses across Scotland. Conclusions
failed to reveal any substantive differences in the activities
of nursery nurses or in their qualifications and skills profile.
The job is defined by national standards with associated regulation
and inspection requirements regardless of the setting, e.g., nursery
schools/classes or community nurseries providing flexible all
day provision. This compelling evidence begs the question - why
would national pay levels or a national framework for pay within
the workforce hinder flexibility?
The Scottish Executive's response to the Review
indicates that the Single Status Agreement for local authorities
would determine pay levels for nursery nurses, however, it is
important to state that even if each local authority used the
same job evaluation scheme and nursery nurses' jobs achieved the
same number of points in each council, this would not lead to
the same levels of pay. Councils can choose how to divide their
individual paybill using job evaluation scores, e.g., 250 points
could mean £15,000 in one council but in another it could mean
UNISON Scotland is still concerned that the public
sector is being asked to stand still while other sectors play
catch up. This can be clearly seen where the private and voluntary
sectors are being funded to raise the number of qualified staff
while the public sector is being denied such funding to increase
the level of qualifications of their existing staff.
Questions and Answers
Roles and Responsibilities
What are the barriers to developing a
coherent early years and childcare workforce with a shared
understanding of roles and responsibilities? How can they
There are a number of barriers to the development
of a coherent early years and childcare workforce. These include
the split in the workforce across different sectors such as
the public, private and the voluntary sectors, each with different
pressures and aims. For instance, the primary motive of the
public sector is to provide a service for all children and young
people ensuring that the most vulnerable families have access
to these services reducing poverty levels and encouraging social
inclusion while those in the private sector aim to maximise
their profits from providing a similar service. Differences
across these sectors are also enhanced due to differing terms
and conditions including pay. Such employment differences often
result in a lack of movement of staff between sectors and problems
of the perception of what services each other provides.
Such barriers could be overcome by promoting UNISON's
policy which is to support universal, flexible services for
all children provided by the public sector.
To what extent does the Roles and Responsibilities
Framework provide a useful basis for developing a shared professional
identity across the early years and childcare workforce, and
for driving forward the integrated working agenda?
The framework provided is comprehensive and appropriate
as a useful basis for developing a shared professional identity.
However, it should be noted that our research revealed that
there is convincing evidence that most nursery nurses are actually
carrying out the roles and responsibilities envisioned in the
roles and responsibilities framework and that they are engaged
in significant reflection on the work skills and the nature
of the contribution they make.
Does the Roles and Responsibilities Framework
reflect what workers in all sectors of the workforce are likely
to be doing as services develop over the coming years?
The framework provides a useful basis for identifying
the shared tasks that all worker do, e.g., ensuring that every
child is safe, however, there is concern that the education
component, i.e., the delivery of the 0 - 5 curriculum, which
is now encompassed in the 3 - 18 curriculum for excellence,
is not adequately considered in the roles and responsibilities
The Scottish Executive recognises the importance
of providing early years education and the impact it has on
enhancing future learning for children. This area forms a high
percentage of the roles and responsibilities carried out by
nursery nurses as well as meeting the national care standards,
this would not necessarily be the case for all workers.
Is the Roles and Responsibilities Framework
a useful basis for developing professional qualifications
in the sector?
It is a useful basis but public sector providers
in Scotland are already at this level and the 10 year timescale
for implementation is too long. UNISON Scotland is concerned that
the framework and the long timescale is more about allowing the
private sector to catch up with the public sector.
5. How accurately does this reflect the career
pathways in the early years and childcare sector at the moment?
The report is accurate in terms of the limited opportunities
available, especially across the different sectors. There is also
concern that senior posts tend to be restricted to teachers although
in some areas there are moves to change this. UNISON Scotland
is also concerned that there is not enough credit given to experience
and training gained on the job and that staff who hold the recognised
qualifications required by the Scottish Social Services Council
to manage service are still being denied the opportunity by most
local authority employers.
6. How effective will these proposals be in promoting
career pathways across the different parts of the early years
and childcare sector, and more widely?
The main barrier to promoting career pathways across
the different parts of the early years and childcare sector is
the differing pay and conditions in each sector, particularly
within the private sector where lower rates of pay and poorer
conditions of service prevail. There is also little evidence to
support the view that even if pay levels were more equitable across
the sector this would encourage workers to move with older children,
children with additional needs or try childminding. Most workers
choose a specialism and want to progress within that specialism,
therefore the development of more vertical careers opportunities
would address the current lack of career opportunities.
Job security is a major concern for any staff moving
to voluntary funded projects (due to the uncertainty of how long
the funding will last). Another barrier is that to move across
to different sectors would mean staff having to enter into new
contracts and thus losing any continuity of service (pension rights
etc) which they had built up.
7. Are there other ways to promote career pathways?
Identifying the links and developing additional
training opportunities which would enable workers to move into
related professions, e.g., teaching, social work and health without
the necessity to leave their employment, would be welcome.
Establishing a system similar to that of chartered
teachers should also be introduced whereby staff who concentrate
on specialisms within the sector receive additional pay.
Qualifications, Training and Development
What are your views on a single qualifications
framework with a shared base (or "common core")
for the whole early years and childcare sector? (this includes
early years workers, out of school care workers, playworkers,
childminders and others)
UNISON Scotland supports the concept of a common
core (or shared base) for qualifications within the sector but
also support the right of the workforce to develop specialisms.
We also endorse the higher qualifications at each level to enhance
the professional status of the workforce but also recognise
that our member working in the public sector are more likely
to be operating at this professional level already.
The Review proposes that services should
be led by SCQF level 9 (ordinary degree or work-based equivalent)
qualified professionals? Should it be higher than SCQF level
Although UNISON Scotland would initially agree
to the SCQF level proposed in the review we believe that the
relevance of the degree course undertaken is of equal importance
to the level attained.
Many workers will develop their skills
and knowledge through continuing professional development.
What are the important features of a CPD framework for the
early years and childcare workforce?
Although it is important that there is a CPD framework
to enable staff to update their skills and be aware of changes
that would affect their work (such as new legislation), UNISON
Scotland believe that all staff should hold a relevant qualification
(HNC) before they start their employment in the sector. However
for CPD to be effective employers must support this and allow
staff to enhance their skills during work time. CPD would have
to be properly resourced and any courses undertaken should clearly
indicate their SCQF level.
Recruitment and Retention
How accurately does the report reflect
the issues that affect the status of work in early years and
childcare sector at the moment?
The report generally reflects the current situation
within the sector although UNISON Scotland are concerned that
the figures given in relation to the number of qualified staff
within the public sector is too low. There is a concern that
the statistics given tend to reflect the situation in both the
private and voluntary sector more than the public sector.
Are there factors other than status that
affect recruitment and retention of staff?
The main issues include pay, lack of a career
structure and job security. The omission of the word education
from the review tends to diminish the role of the workforce.
As the workforce are required to meet national initiatives which
includes a national curriculum, this omission seems strange.
There is still a perception that this is seen as ‘women's work'
and that is reflected in the low pay.
To what extent do you think that the proposals
in the Review improve the status of the early years and childcare
Improving the level of qualifications required
and standardising the qualifications can only help improve the
status of the workforce but the time it has taken to reach this
stage plus further delays in implementing this for practitioners
can only serve to further delay any improvement in the status
of the workforce. UNISON Scotland also believes that it would
help to improve the status of the workforce if the Scottish
Executive recognised the role of the workforce in educating
How do we ensure the sharing of good practice
on recruitment and retention?
UNISON Scotland believes that having robust policies
and procedures, as well as pay and conditions, in place across
the whole sector would help in the recruitment and retention
of the workforce. Campaigns to improve the status of the workforce
and better links to both the Careers Service and colleges would
also help to promote the recruitment and retention of staff.
How do you think we can attract men and
other under represented groups into the sector?
To achieve this it would be necessary to promote
the sector as a career with prospects and with professional
status. This would include promoting the diversity, skills and
knowledge required as well as removing the stigma that this
workforce is only seen as a ‘care profession' by highlighting
the educational role of the workforce. UNISON Scotland also
believes that improving the pay and conditions of all staff
would help to raise its professional status and make it more
attractive to under-represented groups.
How accurately does this analysis capture
the key challenges that face the early years and childcare
sector regarding workforce planning?
The review recognises the potential problems arising
from a shrinking workforce and the competition for staff from
other employers/ sectors. Improving the professional status
of the workforce could go some way to making it a more desirable
career path and could help offset recruitment issues. Increased
terms and conditions, which should reflect the professional
status of the workforce, would also assist recruitment.
Considering each of the attributes of
workforce planning described in this section, what activities
are you aware of that currently take place to help achieve
each of them? Do different activities occur at an individual
(business) level, local level and national level?
UNISON Scotland believes that workforce planning
is a national issue and that devolving this to local or individual
level will result in a disjointed workforce.
What needs to happen at a local level
for effective workforce planning to take place? What needs
to happen at a national level? Why?
UNISON Scotland is concerned that despite being
a ‘national' review the concept of a national wage structure
is missing from the review and this in turn could lead to differences
in how each local level may implement any workforce planning.
Early Years and Childcare - A Developing Profession
The Review sets out proposals intended
to create a single, coherent profession for all those working
in early years and childcare. Are there other actions which
would support the development of a single profession?
UNISON Scotland believes that the main action
that would support the development of a single profession would
be the implementation of a national pay scale as well as supporting
UNISON's policy to provide universal flexible services for all
children provided by the public sector.
What are your views on the title "pedagogue"
within a Scottish context?
UNISON Scotland does not think that the title
‘pedagogue' is suitable within a Scottish context and would
prefer a title that reflected the actual post.
How would you like to see the early years
and childcare workforce named?
UNISON Scotland believes that any name for the workforce
must include the word education to reflect a key element of all
the posts, currently this is missing throughout the review. The
suggested general name for the overall workforce would be the
national Early Year Education and Childcare Workforce. This could
apply to the whole sector while still allowing individual titles
for each separate post. For instance, one suggestion could be
nursery nurses be renamed as Early Years Educators.
For further information please contact:
Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX
Tel 0845 355 0845 Fax 0141 342 2835