Select Committee on Education and Employment Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60 - 64)




  60. The word "professional" is usually linked to a reasonably good salary. What the Committee has heard about this morning and throughout is this dreadful low pay in the sector. We can talk about qualifications but that must go with the ability to pay people, to retain good people. We hear about how many people are going out of the profession every year, that is extremely worrying, and it does not need a wonderful economic analysis to know why. They are going out because the pay is so appalling. Is that not right?
  (Dr Dorrance) That is right.

Charlotte Atkins

  61. Is improving pay the only way to get men into the sector?
  (Ms Ayling) When we talk about men coming into the sector, one of the things the sector does feel is terribly affronted that the only way of it being seen as a profession is if more men come into it, or the only way to raise pay and conditions is if more men come into it. I think there are other issues for men. In the work we have done looking at the recruitment of men, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and older people—the currently under-represented groups—the issues are around acceptance by parents, the labelling which can take place with men, that there is an assumption they could not do anything else or they have their own agenda for wanting to work with children. There are issues around acceptance of people with disabilities not just from parents but from employers and from other staff members, and that goes right across the range of currently under-represented groups. The evidence we have from several case studies is that men will come into the sector for the same reasons that women do, because it is something that they have a passion for and that they feel it is a valuable career option for them. What we need to do if we talk about a professional sector is to talk about it across the board, whether men come into it or not is, if you like, incidental. It is quite clear what children value is to be cared for by a whole raft of different people so that they can experience care and education from people who are not predominantly young, white and female, which may be the environment they themselves are coming out of. It is a much broader issue than simply suggesting that men are not coming in because of pay and conditions, and we need to be able to explore that in order to encourage more men and older people to come in.

Valerie Davey

  62. There appears to be a tension which has been clarified to some extent this morning between ensuring that Early Years is seen as a profession with a status but, on the other hand—and, Richard, you are here wearing two hats this morning—there is this fragmentation within Early Years and the qualifications. There is an urgent need it seems to me to get that professionalism recognised within the whole sector of education, so, as you mentioned, the parents see it as an on-going development. So the tension is between a separate emphasis on Early Years, which we have not had in the professional context in terms of pay and conditions, but also ensuring then it is part of the on-going educational development in terms of professionalism as well as in every other way. The recognition is therefore that if you are an educationalist, whether you are dealing with the Oxbridge seminar of two or looking at the needs of an individual child under three, you are part of that profession. I do not know how we get from needing to emphasise Early Years and the qualifications for it and seeing it as integrated. What can you do to help us?
  (Dr Dorrance) I think it is a real issue. You have only got to look at the number of agencies involved in advising on recruitment and training. TTA advise on it for teachers, TOPS, the NTO for personal social services advise on the training and recruitment of children social workers, in health it is health workers who offer the advice, in Early Years it is us, there is the Local Government NTO which offer advice on any Early Years professional employed by local government. There is a real need to bring all these agencies together because if they came together the message that this is a profession which is worthwhile joining and leads to places would be so strong it could not be ignored. I agree with you.


  63. That gives us a question to ask the Minister to demand from the Government. Is there anything you have not said to the Committee this morning which you would feel, as you left this room, cheated if you had not said?
  (Ms Ayling) Within the report it is quite clear that care and education are seen as being absolutely related and integral, and the Government response has been that they have addressed that in terms of restructuring departments and whatever. The issue around educationalists seeing Early Years educators as professionals is that educationalists must also recognise that care element. What Early Years providers do is care and educate, and they look at an all-round approach to children, so they are not looking at it just from a purely educational aspect. We heard earlier about some of the work that happens in the community environment, it is so broad and so all-encompassing and it is that which I believe should be respected by educationalists, that for those young children from the ages of 0 to 7, or 0 to 8, however one arbitrarily establishes Early Years, it is a coming together of those two elements which are both balanced, both valid, and one is not seen as greater than the other. That needs to be respected and integrated into a formal education system when they come into education. That I believe would very much have the support of the sector. One of the questions we ask the Minister is how we ensure that happens, that as a child goes into mainstream education, having gone through whatever provision in the Early Years, those elements of both care and education carry forward and are recognised.

  64. Listening to Margy Whalley earlier, I felt very strongly what she was pitching for, and this has some resonance in your remarks, was a whole new profession which actually spans a range of competences at graduate level which could transform the sector and raise the level of professionalism. Perhaps we ought to talk about that in some more detail. Richard, any last thoughts?

  (Dr Dorrance) I have nothing else, thank you.

  Chairman: Fine. Thank you both for that.

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