New insight from the first survey into foundation years professionals
Over the summer, the strategic partnership ran a survey aimed at early years professionals, designed to capture a picture of capacity, sustainability, quality and knowledge of the early years and childcare sector. The survey was answered by over 600 professionals, from a diverse array of settings, and revealed a range of interesting headlines, including:
The survey showed high levels of agreement with recent policy developments, with:
- 90% of people agreeing, or broadly agreeing, with the conclusion of the Tickell Review;
- 89% of people agreeing, or broadly agreeing, with the content of the revised Early Years Foundation Stage framework; and
- 80% of people agreeing, or broadly agreeing, with the intent of the Foundation Years Strategic Partnership.
However, some 8% of respondents had not heard of the Tickell Review at all, and 17% had not heard of the Early Years Strategic Partnership – indicating the need for additional communications from both government and the early years sector to ensure settings are aware of legal and policy changes which will affect them.
There was also a strong under-current of concern about the impact of government policies (including budget reductions) on the sector. In a free text question:
- 17% of respondents identified the policies of the coalition government as a threat to the successful delivery of the foundation years;
- 22% cited budget reductions as the biggest threat they faced; and
- 15% identified existential worries about the future of the sector, or major problems with the government’s policy focus for the sector
There was significant concern across the sector regarding the financial sustainability of childcare and early years provision, with 42% of respondents reporting that they had become less financially sustainable over the past year, and only 9% of settings reporting that they had become more sustainable.
Respondents reported that these difficulties were caused by a combination of: reduced parental income (48%), changing parental working patterns (50%), changes in the priorities of local authorities (18%) and increased costs of childcare (14%).
Sustainability was also rated the biggest challenge faced by settings in the coming year (35% of respondents identified this as the biggest challenge), followed closely by staffing problems (26%) and managing change (24%).
In order to address some of the issues identified in this survey, the strategic partnership has committed to work across the sector to provide the skills – both business and professional – that are needed to survive these tough times. We will:
- Work with partners, settings and families to raise awareness of the partnership, and develop the newsletter so it more appropriately addresses the needs of the sector;
- Offer as much support to settings as possible regarding their ability to:
- manage budget reductions;
- manage change to national policies such as the EYFS through access to resources, information and events
- identify and integrate disabled children; and
- engage effectively with fathers.
- To support quality improvement we will work with the sector to add capacity by sharing best practice, through peer to peer mentoring, case studies, and learning from each other.
If you have any further questions about the survey, please do not hesitate to get in touch.