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A rise in the National Living Wage at Childbase Partnership to £7.61 per hour has had nursery practitioners celebrating as the Government announced the new rate of £7.50 for next year.
Pay rises at the beginning of November have given the company’s lowest earners over a five per cent increase to their hourly rates, irrespective of age, while the National Living Wage – currently £7.20 an hour – will be increased for those aged 25 years and over next April, according to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
Early years apprentices at the company’s 44 day nurseries throughout the South of England are also earning £5.55 per hour instead of the Government’s recommended rate of £3.40.
Virginia Mead-Herbert, deputy chief executive officer of Childbase Partnership, said: “This is but a step in a decade-long company drive to achieve professional recognition, pay and benefits for our early years practitioners who are not only carers but educators of the very young.
“We introduced the National Living Wage five months early last year and are maintaining momentum with the latest increases and a move to 100 per cent employee ownership and tax-free bonuses for all next year.”
She said the pay deal, which focuses on the company’s lower wage earners, was going ahead despite the climate of uncertainty surrounding inadequate Government funding for its ‘free’ childcare plans.
“We are committed to providing ‘excellence as standard’ for all our children and continuing to drive up standards still further,” she added. “That means establishing a base pay rate for all lower wage earners while maintaining existing profit-sharing, wellbeing and training initiatives.
“This is an investment in the future, recognising that supported and highly trained practitioners are critical to the process of preparing happy, confident children ready to realise their full potential in mainstream schooling and beyond. When that is the mission, there can be no compromise on quality, and we don’t.”
The wage increases have been welcomed by the 417 practitioners under 25 years of age and 67 early years apprentices who receive fully-funded external training and six in-house training sessions each year.
Chloe Courtley-Green, aged 20, joined the Ofsted-rated ‘Outstanding’ Field House Day Nursery in Buckingham as an unqualified practitioner and is currently finishing her Early Learning and Childcare Level 3 qualification.
She said: “It is brilliant that our company does more than it has to for apprentices and unqualified practitioners. It recognises the fact that we have an important role to play in nursery and that encourages us to be even better at what we do, which is great for the children in our care. I have a career at Childbase Partnership, not a job.”
Ms Courtley-Green’s manager, Kelly Seaton, has praised the contributions made by apprentices who bring a fresh perspective to delivering the best possible opportunities for each child.
“Having a passion to work with children is something money can’t buy. There are higher paid jobs out there but loving the work you do and being recognised for it makes it more satisfying and rewarding. This pay deal shows that we are committed to each other and the profession. You can’t put a value on that,” she said.
Louise Hall, aged 23, is an unqualified practitioner at Childbase Partnership’s Nene Valley Day Nursery in Northampton, and has been with the company for nine months.
She added: “I am delighted that we, as a company, are doing this for the under twenty-fives because there are a lot of us with children who are studying for qualifications and can’t do overtime to boost our earnings.
“The fact that staff are well looked after and rewarded is the reason I chose Childbase. It enables me to succeed in my training and provide for my family. Salary increases in November are also great because it helps us all in the lead up to Christmas.”