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Many nurseries can’t afford to employ graduates despite obvious benefits

Article By: Sue Learner, News Editor

Lack of funding from local authorities is preventing many nurseries from employing graduates, despite their input being highly beneficial.

A study carried out by National Day Nurseries Association found the different levels of funding from local authorities acts as a barrier to employing more graduates in nurseries.

NDNA chief executive, Purnima Tanuku called the lack of funding a serious issue “for nurseries and a barrier to employing graduates.

“NDNA’s annual survey showed nurseries reporting funding losses on three and four-year-old places of £929 per child, per year, losses which threaten the sustainability of the sector and free places.”

The study which was carried out in partnership with the Department for Education, also explored if there is any case for increasing ratios in nurseries when graduates are present, a policy the Government is very interested in and which it put forward in its publication ‘More Affordable Childcare’.

However Ms Tanuku is not convinced. She said: “We also need to note that while almost all the providers taking part saw benefits to employing graduates there is less evidence to support increasing ratios where graduates are present.”

The study was carried out at PVI (private, voluntary and independent) nurseries, maintained nurseries and academies to see how flexibility was used in different settings at different times. It highlighted the many different ways graduates were deployed within early years settings whilst ensuring children’s individual needs were provided for and quality was retained.

The research “clearly demonstrated that meeting the needs of children does not lend itself to flexible deployment over a full day,” said Ms Tanuku.

Helen Gration, owner of York Montessori Nursery, who took part in the research, has found graduates to be highly beneficial in her nursery.

She said: “I have a desire to continually reflect on and improve our practice. The investment in EYTs (Early Years Teachers) across the nursery rooms has proven to do just that, as well as benefiting the whole staff team. By giving the EYTs internal projects on areas we want to enhance, such as physical education and the tracking of children's development, we have seen an overall benefit to staff knowledge and an improving sense of professionalism.

“Their work is not a quick fix. Their ideas take time to embed into everyday practice. But they bring a considered approach to their projects. Guidance from managers may be needed initially and discussions often take place to ensure that the child's voice is at the heart of everything we do.

“However, they are willing to research their ideas and approach the implementation of improvement with an appropriate confidence, because the research makes them already aware of the benefits that such a project will bring.”

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