Staff turnover 29% in Scottish private nurseries

New data published this week revealed that staff turnover in private nurseries in Scotland is shockingly high at 29% compared with 11% in the public sector.

The stats, published by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) in its Movement of Day Care of Children Staff Report 2023, backs up the evidence that NDNA Scotland has been collecting about the workforce crisis in early years.

The key points of the report include:

  • The public sector nurseries’ workforce has grown by almost 60% since 2016
  • The workforce in private nurseries has grown by just over 2% in same period and shrunk in voluntary run providers by 8%
  • Staff turnover rate is 29% in private nurseries, 21% in voluntary settings and 11% in public sector nurseries
  • 26% of managers leaving private sector settings go on to work at a practitioner level in public settings


Jonathan Broadbery, NDNA’s Director of Policy and Communications said: “The data published today reflects the evidence NDNA Scotland has been gathering about the workforce crisis within the private and voluntary nursery sector for years.

“Staff turnover rates of 29% in private nurseries are much higher than other sectors of the economy and show the turmoil that some nurseries have faced in recent years. High turnover of staff is very disruptive for young children’s care and education, hampering nurseries’ efforts to drive up quality.

“In our investigation into budgets for 1140 hours, we found that there is a big gap between what partner providers, like private nurseries, are expected to deliver and the budget they are given to do this. This makes it impossible for private and voluntary nurseries to compete with salaries within the public sector. With 80% of staff who leave private nurseries moving to the public sector, this report shows the impact that has on the workforce as a whole.

“We are now seeing cases where nurseries have lost large numbers of staff members and have even been forced to close because they cannot recruit or retain the qualified staff they need to remain open.”

See Movement of Day Care of Children Staff Report 2023 here

  • Scotland

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