Early years organisation the Pre-school Learning Alliance has announced a joint project with the Department for Education (DfE) and Ofsted to explore workload pressures and how best to address them.
As part of this initiative, the Alliance will be running a series of focus groups over the coming month to gather views of practitioners from across the early years sector.
Last year, a survey carried out by the Alliance into mental health and wellbeing in the early years, revealed that paperwork and administration were the main source of stress for childcare practitioners.
The Minds Matter survey, which received over 2000 responses, also found that:
61% of respondents didn’t feel that they had a good work-life balance.
74% had regularly felt stressed about work or an issue relating to work over the previous month.
25% had considered leaving the early years sector due to stress and mental health difficulties.
Commenting on the project, Neil Leitch, Chief Executive of the Alliance, said:
“Early years practitioners play an absolutely vital role in children’s early learning and development, and the passion and dedication of the workforce is something to be both admired and commended. That said, it's clear from our research that the demands of working in the sector are taking their toll, and it is simply not right that day-to-day working life should be having such a detrimental impact on practitioners’ mental and physical health, relationships and, in some cases, their ability to do their jobs properly.
"As such, we are incredibly pleased that both the Department for Education and Ofsted are supporting our efforts to address the early years sector’s workload concerns. It is crucial that any steps to help reduce unnecessary pressures on childcare practitioners are taken as a matter of priority and so we fully welcome the commitment of both organisations to work collaboratively with us to find practical, sustainable ways to tackle these issues.
“With Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework currently under consultation, now is an ideal opportunity for early years providers to have their say on this important issue. As such, we urge all practitioners to take part in this project ensure that their voices are part of what is an absolutely vital discussion.”
Gill Jones, Ofsted Early Education Deputy Director, said:
"I want childminders and nurseries to focus on what matters: looking after young children in a safe environment in which they learn and develop well. We certainly don’t want anyone in an early years setting to do anything specifically for Ofsted, and which creates extra work for them. That is why we have worked hard in recent years to dispel myths about what Ofsted does and doesn’t want when we carry out inspections.
“Our draft education inspection framework is out to consultation but our approach to paperwork will remain the same: early years settings should not prepare paperwork specifically for Ofsted, and they should not bother with consultants telling them what Ofsted wants.”