Nursery teacher shortage can risk children's learning
According to a report carried out by the children’s charity Save the Children, a chronic shortage of fully qualified nursery teachers across the UK’s private and voluntary nurseries is putting young children’s education at risk, stunting their growth.
The amount of applications for Early Years Teacher training has ‘plummeted’ by 63%, with a number of nurseries now struggling to hire qualified skilled staff. The charity found that children in independent nurseries without an early years teacher were 10% less likely to meet a level of development that is expected by the age of 5 compared to nurseries with qualified teachers. Leaving infants struggling with the basics, for example, speaking in a full sentence and using the correct tenses, they are more likely to remain behind throughout their education.
The number of people who are applying for nursery teacher jobs has dropped from 2,300 to 860 in the last year, which is dramatically lower than the amount needed. There is a decreasing number of positions available, reduced salaries and lack of promotion opportunities, which is the cause of the shortage.
Shropshire, Hull and Newham (the London Borough) are the worst affected areas, with less than 20% of children in independent places getting access to a qualified nursery teacher, whereas Bristol, Brighton, and Hove have the greatest success. Generally, the working class areas in the UK are the worst affected, however, even in places such as Sutton only 28% of the independent nurseries have fully qualified early years teachers and this problem is country-wide:
- West Midlands – 58% of children don’t have qualified nursery teachers
- North West – 45% of children are without a qualified teacher
- South East – 50% of independent nurseries don’t have qualified nursery teachers
Gareth Jenkins, Director of UK Poverty at Save the Children said,“It’s incredibly worrying that so many children in England are at risk of falling behind by the time they start school when we know they don’t have to be. As a country, we need to start recognising that if we want to give every child the best chance in life – no matter what their background – they must have the support they need to learn, grow and develop in the early years of their lives. Nurseries do an incredible job nurturing our children, but many are struggling to afford and recruit the qualified teachers they need to give children this support and help their workforce with more training and development. If the government is serious about creating a country that works for everyone, it’s crucial we urgently invest in a qualified teacher for every nursery across the country, giving children the support they need to reach their full potential.”
A child’s early development is extremely important for getting them started in life. Language skills are the building blocks for every child early on in life. Previous research shows that children who are already behind at the age of 5 are more likely to fall behind with reading by the end of primary school. To boost education chances of children who are struggling before and during Primary School, Save the Children is calling on the government to invest in qualified early years teachers, starting in the most deprived areas of the UK.
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