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Early years is “undervalued and misunderstood”, survey suggests 

By Rachel Lawlerchildren at early years setting

The vast majority (95%) of early years professionals do not feel respected by politicians and policy makers, according to a new survey by Famly.

The survey revealed that those working in the sector largely feel “undervalued and misunderstood”, with 70% of respondents also feeling that they lack respect from wider society.

More than half of those surveyed felt that the early years has a “reputation problem”.

Staffing concerns
But the biggest challenge facing the sector is clearly staffing, with 86% of respondents saying that this was an issue for them. Funding was the second biggest concern (69%) and respect from wider society (69%) was third.

That said, more than three quarters of those surveyed said that working in the early years was “rewarding” and 71% agreed that most people in the sector are “in it for the children”.

"Disrespected and undervalued"
Neil Leitch, CEO of the Alliance, commented: “It is disappointing, but sadly not at all surprising, that 95% of respondents don’t feel respected by policymakers and politicians. For far too long the early years sector has been treated appallingly by the government, not only in terms of the funding the sector receives, but also the way that our workforce has been persistently disrespected and undervalued by policymakers.

“Despite a mountain of research highlighting how valuable early educators are in supporting children to develop skills and learning that will stay with them for life, the sector continues to fall further and further down the government’s priority list. 

“The fact that that staffing difficulties were listed as the biggest concern for professionals highlights just how bad the current recruitment and retention crisis, which has largely been driven by both low pay and the continued lack of respect for early education in this country, has become."

“As such, we once again urge the government to commit to properly funding our sector, but also to recognise our workforce as the educators they are, and in doing so, set an example for wider society to follow.

“Early years professionals are not just ‘babysitters’ – they lay the vital foundations for a child’s future and it is high time that this was properly recognised.”

Find out more
You can download a copy of the full report here