Low Pay and status put Early Years Professional programme at risk

The future of Early Years Professional Status will be jeopardised unless pay and conditions are put in place to put EYPs on the same footing as teachers, Aspect, the trade union for EYPs, claimed this week.

The EYP section of Aspect (Association of Professionals in Education and Children’s Trusts) said that pay levels are unacceptably low and that there is a gulf between the Government’s view that EYPs are ‘graduate leaders’ and the perception of their status by local authorities, teacher colleagues and potential employers. Comments from EYPs around the country reveal a growing level of disillusionment, with many EYPs feeling short-changed after being promised a career, status and position similar to that of teachers.

In December there were 2,500 graduate-level EYPs and a further 2,400 in training, and the Government said it was on track to meet its target of having a graduate in every early years setting by 2015. It is also considering making it a legal requirement to have a graduate in every full daycare setting (News, 17 December 2008).

What EYPs Say: ‘Why can somebody with an early years degree, a good understanding of child development, years of experience of working with children from 0-5, and a postgraduate qualification level 6 EYP not be allowed to lead practice in the EYFS in a school nursery, but somebody with a non child-related degree, one year PGCE – not necessarily in early years – be allowed to lead a nursery class in a school when they have QTS but very little experience?’

What the Children’s Workforce Development Council says: ‘CWDC welcomes this thorough analysis of what is an important aspect of our work. We will now look in more detail at the findings of this report and consider carefully how we can address those areas that fall within our remit.’   What we say: we are committed to the training and education of nursery employees and we are glad that the government wants to drive up standards. However, unless the government subsidises the salaries of Early Years Professionals (EYPs) AND clearly defines the role of the EYP within the nursery sector there will be no incentive for employees to gain the qualification and it will not hit its target.

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