Funding for Early Years

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2018 Local Government Service Group Conference
21 February 2018
Carried as Amended

This Conference believes that the current levels of funding across the UK for early education and care are insufficient to provide for the high quality of services our young children deserve.

The recent research report from UNISON Scotland on the impact of early years staff on children’s outcomes found that the biggest single factor in the quality of provision for young children was the quality of the staff working with them. The report also found that the highest quality provision was found in the public sector and that this exists whether there is a teacher present or not. UNISON Scotland will use the research findings to encourage the Scottish government to deliver their early years expansion solely by the public sector.

The funding in England for the so called 30 hours of free childcare is inadequate and many providers are reporting that they are unable to offer free places without charging parents supplements. Inadequate funding also impacts on the pay and conditions of early years staff. Despite the high levels of qualifications and high levels of responsibility, many early years staff, especially those in the private sector are on the statutory minimum rates of pay and conditions of service.

Changes in funding regulations have placed restrictions on local authorities in the way that they are able to fund maintained nurseries and nursery schools. This has resulted in many of these nurseries closing or restructuring despite being consistently identified as the type of provider that has the highest quality provision.

This conference believes that it is vital to invest in early years and that a highly qualified workforce with a clear career structure for staff is a key factor in improving the quality of services to young children.

This conference calls on the SGE to campaign for:

1)Increased funding for early years services across the UK;

2) Recognition of the professional role of early years workers;

3) Requirements for all staff in the early years workforce to have, or be working towards a relevant level 3 qualification. Appropriate support, training and a realistic timetable for staff will be needed to achieve this;

4) A right for all early years staff to access ongoing continual professional development and have access to career progression;

5) Fair pay for all early years staff that properly rewards their skills and qualifications;

6) An expanded role for the public sector in providing early education and care.