NDNA and Sector give evidence to Education Committee

The Education Select Committee, on 21 February, heard evidence from childcare providers from across England on the challenges facing the sector as part of their inquiry into ‘Support for Childcare and the Early Years’.

NDNA facilitated some members to be able to give evidence in person, share their experiences and have their voices heard. MPs heard the issues surrounding wage increases, business rates for nurseries, and recruitment and retention.

NDNA also submitted written evidence for the inquiry giving a general picture of the issues facing the sector.

NDNA member Gemma Rolstone, Director of Quality at Puffins Childcare in Devon spoke to the Committee about increases in National Living Wage driving up nursery bills:

“Staffing costs are the biggest burden on childcare providers because our staff are our business. The staffing bill equates to around 65%, but this is going to rise to 75% – this leaves very little room for the other things. That’s our biggest struggle.”

As well as the problems caused by business rates:

“Business rates have always been a contentious issue. The exemption over the pandemic saved a lot of settings. The unit [rate] is calculated differently between local authority but the funding rate is the same across the board.”

Emma Gardener, Quality Manager at Spring By Action for Children, a chain of nurseries who are members of NDNA also covered the issues of recruitment and retention:

“This is a really significant challenge for us. The average across England as a whole is around 24% turnover. You need to be able to meet your ratios. However, what can happen quite quickly is when people come into the setting it is either not what they thought it was going to be, so they leave, or there is not the status there that should be, not a career people see themselves staying in. Which is a massive drain on time and resources.”

When responding to settings closing, Emma said:

“For us it is about that sustainability, that daily juggling. If you are not able to fund that spare member of staff in the building, you are constantly having to look at whether you need to close rooms in your setting, whether you need to close the setting altogether – because if you can’t fund having that extra body, that makes operating really, really challenging. Which is why settings just have to close their doors.”

The Committee also heard about the ideas to change adult:child ratios, to which Emma replied:

“There will actually be less time for those attachment and connection moment, which are so crucial for that self-regulation – as well as increasing pressure on the workforce, and paperwork. If we start to increase those ratios, we going to increase the number of those key children and quality is only going to go down.”

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “The Education Committee’s inquiry into childcare comes at a crucial time for providers as our research shows that underfunding continues to lead to nurseries closing.

“Yet another childcare debate in Parliament on Tuesday highlights that early education and  childcare is a key political issue. The inquiry and report must lead to the Government taking action to invest in our children and properly support the providers who work with them every day.

“NDNA has given our own evidence to the committee, but we are proud to support our members too who spoke passionately about their work and the challenges they face from underfunding to higher costs, including business rates, and the real workforce crisis. The abundance of research and evidence about the importance of early education and childcare as well as the experience of providers is overwhelming and cannot be ignored.”

Other experts from the sector also spoke to the Committee including: Kara Jewell, Childminder and Nursery Director, Sparkle Lodge Early Years; Professor Celia Greenway, Deputy Pro-vice Chancellor and Professor in Education (Early Years and Child Development Lead), University of Birmingham; Dr Julian Grenier CBE, Head Teacher, Sheringham Nursery School and Children’s Centre.

Watch the whole stream of the Committee here

Read NDNA’s Evidence here

  • England
  • Education Select Committee
  • Emma Gardener
  • Gemma Rolstone
  • Julien Grenier CBE
  • NLW
  • Professor Celia Greenway
  • Ratios
  • Recruitment and Retention

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