On Wednesday 19th January 2022, as part of Childcare and Early Education Week, some of our Tops parents took part in a forum held by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Childcare and Early Education. The forum was hosted by APPG’s Chair, Steve Brine MP, and Professor Kathy Sylva, Professor of Educational Psychology; Fellow of Jesus College.
The group discussed topics such as the strengths and qualities of an early years educator, the importance of a child’s key person, and the main areas of improvement within the sector. Continue reading to find out what points the parents made…
What are the strengths of an Early Years Educator?
Early years educators play a huge role in the first 5 years of a child’s life. They are kind, caring and passionate about what they do, they are professional and honest, and have a sense of humor. These qualities are what make early years staff so important to the children and families they meet.
The importance of a child’s key person
Parents also discussed the difference a child’s key person makes to their time at nursery. The parents agreed that a child’s key person builds special, 1-1 relationships with their child and provide peace of mind to parents that their child has a particular adult they can go to for comfort. They continued to point out that they are able to spot areas of development that they may not spot at home due to being in different environments and that a key person becomes a connection between them and the setting.
Discuss the impact an early years setting has had on families
When talking about the impact an early years setting has had on families, one parent said, “We wouldn’t be where we are today without the early years sector. It has given me the ability to return to work and has provided a breathing space from family life”. Something that was frequently talked about on the forum was the continuous support parents have been given from their nursery staff. Another parent talked about having to return to work early after having her baby; her nursery setting supported her by providing peace of mind and reassurance that her child was safe and in good hands.
Areas for development within the early years sector
It was decided that the main areas for improvement within the childcare and early years sector was funding and shift patterns. Early years educators feel that the funding and pay they receive doesn’t always reflect the hours and work they do, and they sometimes feel underappreciated. They want to be recognised as ‘Early Years Educators’ because they support and teach the children, whereas ‘childcare’ can suggest playing all day while parents go to work.
Cheryl Hadland, Managing Director of Tops Day Nurseries, attended the forum and said “I found it very encouraging that the parents on the call were so appreciative of the work that we do in the early years childcare and education sector, and also recognised the need for early years educators to be recognised both financially and respectfully, and I believe it will be useful evidence for the MPs to use in the debate in Parliament scheduled for January 25th. Its important that all politicians acknowledge the importance of the sector and that the pay and conditions needs addressing urgently”.