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57% of early years practitioners have suffered with work-related anxiety

By Rachel Lawler

Stress of working in early years sector
A quarter of early years practitioners are considering leaving the sector due to stress and mental health concerns, according to a survey conducted by the Alliance.
The Minds Matter survey launched earlier this year, receiving responses from more than 2,000 from people in the early years sector.
The results were revealed last week at the Alliance’s annual conference.

Minds Matter

The full Minds Matter report is available online, but key findings include:
  • 57% of early years practitioners say they have suffered from anxiety as a result of their work
  • 26% have experienced depression
  • 45% say that work-related stress or mental health difficulties have impacted on their performance at work
  • 23% have taken time off as a result of work-related stress or mental health issues
The main sources of stress reported by respondents included high workloads, particularly paperwork and administration, financial pressure and low pay.

30-hours free childcare

A significant proportion of respondents also noted the impact of the government’s 30-hours policy, which has been associated with funding concerns and administration problems, particularly regarding the Childcare Service website.
In response, the Alliance is calling on the Department of Education and Ofsted to work with the organisation to help reduce workloads in the early years, particularly in relation to excessive or unnecessary paperwork and administration.

Impact of policies

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “It’s clear from these results that years of ill-thought-out policies, inadequate funding and ever-increasing demands on the sector have taken their toll, and it is frankly shameful that we have reached this point.
“While over the years, the struggles of those working in the early years have been largely ignored – and this is the result.
“When you get to a situation where a quarter of your workforce is actively considering quitting, it’s clear that something needs to change.”

Focus on children

One survey respondent said: “Working in the early years used to be all about the children. Now it is all about the paperwork and constant changes to legislation. There just aren’t enough hours in the day and not enough money in the pot to pay people what they deserve for the job they do.”

Read the full survey results

Where next?

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