Who cares for the carers? – the new Scotland and its young

imageIncreasing the hours of free early learning and childcare in Scotland to 1140 hrs per year is a fantastic proposal by the Government.

Research shows that these early years are a time when the brain develops fastest and much of its ‘wiring’ is laid down. Trillions of connections between brain cells are being made during the first three years of a child’s life, therefore the experiences a child has in those early years (both positive and negative) can either support learning or interfere with it.

Indeed, the Scottish Government states “…the transition into primary school is a critical period in children’s lives.” So we (within the profession and the Scottish Government) have all established that the early years are the most important years for learning; so why is the valuable contribution that Early Years Practitioners play to that “critical period in children’s lives” recognised in their pay?

Privately owned businesses are making huge profits from these increases in childcare hours and new nurseries are springing up all over the country as demand for these free childcare hours increases. All the while, Childcare Practitioners are experiencing a huge increase in their workload and still have to scrape by on minimum wage.

“Research shows that these early years are a time when the brain develops fastest and much of its ‘wiring’ is laid down.”

There is (in many workplaces and certainly where I am employed) a high level of absence due to sickness/stress. The privately owned nursery addresses this problem by hiring temps; most of whom don’t have the proper training or skills. However this strategy meets the required National Care Standards ratio…..there are enough ‘bodies’ in the building so come bring your child and your £38 to nursery today!

To add insult to injury, these temps are on a higher rate of pay than fully qualified Practitioners.

This practise of paying minimum wage not only has a downside for Practitioners it also affects the children. It’s difficult (and sometimes impossible) for someone who is living on the breadline to be motivated and/or creative when they’re too busy thinking about how they’re going to feed/house there own child/children.

The Scottish Government hopes to “improve outcomes for children, especially those who are more vulnerable or disadvantaged” yet it is failing the children of the very people who are responsible for improving the outcomes of children. Certainly in my own experience, most months I have to make a choice between feeding my son and paying my bills and very often go without meals myself.

The ‘partnership’ between local authorities and the private sector could/should have stipulated in its terms and agreements that Childcare Practitioners were paid a fair and decent wage for the work they do.

“Certainly in my own experience, most months I have to make a choice between feeding my son and paying my bills and very often go without meals myself.”

If a Practitioner working in a local authority nursery is worth £19,818-£23,688 per year then why are Practitioners working in private nurseries worth £4,842 – £8,712 less?

Teachers are often in the headlines demanding higher pay and they receive a lot of support from the general public. Richard Bell a member of the NASUWT union said in May of this year, “more and more” was being asked of Scottish teachers at a time when they were being paid “less and less”. Childcare Practitioners follow the Curriculum for Excellence too and we are also asked to do more and more.

We too are obliged to maintain and improve our knowledge and skills of childcare and education science. We too spend hours and hours each week outwith working hours planning and resourcing materials (often using our own money) in order to implement the Curriculum requirements.

And we’re on minimum wage.

“If a Practitioner working in a local authority nursery is worth £19,818-£23,688 per year then why are Practitioners working in private nurseries worth £4,842 – £8,712 less?”

Now don’t think this is me having a dig at teachers, it’s not. I fully empathise with and support teachers. My daughter is a primary school teacher and I know exactly the amount of time, effort, passion and (her own) money she puts into her students. But Childcare Practitioners do that too because we recognise what a “critical period in children’s lives” we are responsible for.

I love my job. I couldn’t imagine a more rewarding profession. The sheer wonder of watching a child furrow his/her brows in concentration, knowing their wee minds are busily at work, grasping concepts and making sense of the world around them. I truly love it. It brings me joy.

I’d just like my pay to reflect the valuable part I and my fellow Practitioners play in helping children reach their full potential.

Comments (1)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. C Rober says:

    Its also something I worry about politically , with the forging by the party blacksmiths of their own promise based poison chalices….but when the stench of failure is on the horizon theres always Westmonster to blame.

    Low pay for low skills are here to stay , while we are in the Uk at least , and if entering the EU with its want/need for ttip will in no doubt continue that economy. With that LPLS being endemic thus comes failure , the old adage of “if you pay peanuts” is quite apt.

    Is it time then to empower councils as the only supplier , to supply and reform pre school education , also known as glorified babysitting for plebs by those able to afford the best centres – that also still pay the same mediocre wages to the majority of personnel?

    Perhaps we should be reforming the wider education system towards needs based further education , post Highers?

    But I fear its not a matter of lack of employees , in these days of sanctions for refusing zero hours contracts , but the lack of financial reward over and above the personal one… we simply cannot continue that the job itself should be the reward for the few whom will only leave for better pay – in the private care outwith education and continuing the problem.

    Perhaps though there is one partial solution , in that those that wish to be in the higher income based careers of childcare , have to serve a longer hands on portion of course work?

    I am sure this would also aid psychologists , any childcare based career , where they ultimately get the hands on the tiller from being a shipmate instead of though financial ability to study…. and thus being at the forefront , after being at the lowest end , pays far more dividends regarding change or solutions based outcomes?

Keep our Journalism Independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address to subscribe for free here and receive Bella direct to your inbox.

 
Bella Caledonia