The Education Policy Institute (EPI) and leading early years organisation the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) have launched a year-long research project to examine the impact of Covid-19 on the early years workforce in the UK.
The pandemic and economic downturn have significantly affected early years education, causing disruption to providers since the lockdown began in March. The ongoing crisis threatens to cause growing instability in the workforce, which is likely to have consequences for the quality of early years provision.
As childcare providers are likely to be affected by the pandemic for many months, the new study will last until June 2021, with four surveys taking place from August 2020 until the following summer.
Commenting on the new research project, Dr Sara Bonetti, Director of Early Years at the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said:
“The early years sector has long been in poor financial health, but the pandemic has exacerbated many existing problems and now poses an additional acute threat to childcare providers. The ongoing disruption will have created huge instability for the hundreds of thousands of early years workers in the UK, who play an indispensable role in the learning and development of our youngest children.
“A stable early years workforce is essential to delivering high-quality provision for children, so it is vital that we understand how workers have been impacted by this crisis.”
NDNA Chief Executive Purnima Tanuku OBE said:
“We know that this virus and its consequences have had a devastating impact on the whole of society, but it has been particularly damaging for the already-struggling childcare sector.
“We are investigating how lower demand for places along with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the way it was applied to early years settings has impacted on the workforce. This includes staffing levels, qualifications, training and opportunities for continuing professional development.
“This is vital information that will help shape proposals that would effectively support the workforce in England, Scotland and Wales in terms of training and knowledge. To understand what solutions will work for the sector and what support Governments could provide, we have to see the impact the pandemic has had – this study will provide this in real time.
“A well-qualified, motivated and properly recognised workforce is crucial to the quality of care and early education our children receive. We are asking childcare providers across the UK to take the time to complete an initial survey this month. This will be followed by a further three surveys which will capture the evolving nature of the challenges facing the sector in each nation.”
NDNA and EPI have launched the initial survey which requires information about staffing levels and numbers of children being cared for, both now and this time last year. It will also seek to establish a baseline snapshot of the workforce from March this year, just before the effects of the pandemic were seen.
Participants who will remain strictly confidential can either take part in all four or just one survey. NDNA and EPI will be sharing the results from each piece of research, with a larger piece of analysis at the end of the year-long project.
To complete the survey go to this link.