Early Years Alliance comments on 2021 Childcare and Early Years Provider survey

Commenting, Neil Leitch, CEO of the Early Years Alliance, said:

"It's notable that much of this data underlines the severe impact of the recruitment and retention challenges facing the sector, as highlighted in our recent Breaking Point report. 

"Despite the overall number of early years places staying broadly level nationally since 2019, this data shows a substantial decline in the overall number of early years staff over the same period. Is it any wonder that so many early educators warn of being stretched far too thinly to provide the quality care and education that each child needs and deserves?

"Add to this the fact that one in three providers are reliant on temporary staff, who cannot take on the same level of responsibility or offer the same continuity of care as permanent staff, and it's clear that urgent action on staff shortages needs to be taken if we are to ensure the consistent delivery of quality provision going forward.

"We know that low pay is a key contributor to the recruitment and retention crisis and so it is particularly concerning that so much of the early years workforce remains in receipt of close to - or in some cases, less than - the minimum or living wage.

"If the government is to have any hope of tackling this incredibly worrying trend, it needs to completely overhaul how it values and treats the early years workforce. That means, first and foremost, funding the sector at a level that ensures all early educators get paid a wage that reflects the pivotal importance of their role, both now and in the future."