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A quarter of the childcare workforce in England is considering quitting the sector as a result of stress and mental health difficulties, according to a survey by the Pre-school Learning Alliance.
A further 5% of respondents to the survey of 2,000 childcare workers have already confirmed that they will be leaving the sector or have already left.
The survey also revealed that:
– 57% of early years practitioners say they have suffered from anxiety as a result of work, while 26% have experienced depression.
– 65% say work-related stress or mental health difficulties have impacted on their personal relationships, while 45% say their work performance has been negatively affected.
– 74% have regularly felt stressed about work or an issue relating to work over the past month.
– 61% don’t feel that they have a good work-life balance.
– 23% have taken time off work as a result of work-related stress or mental health issues.
The survey respondents – who were mainly comprised of nursery / pre-school owners, managers and staff as well as childminders – also cited serious physical consequences of work-related stress, including high blood pressure, palpitations and in a small number of cases, strokes and heart attacks. Forty-five respondents (2%) said that they had experienced thoughts of ending their own lives.
The main sources of stress cited by respondents were high workloads (in particular, paperwork and administration), financial pressures stemming from a lack of adequate government funding and low pay.
The Alliance is calling on the Department of Education and Ofsted to work with the organisation to conduct a review into early years workloads, and in particular, to identify and address areas of excessive or unnecessary paperwork and administration.
Alliance chief executive Neil Leitch said: “When you get to a situation where a quarter of your workforce is actively considering quitting, it’s clear something needs to change. Those that work in the early years do what they do because they are committed to helping young children learn and develop, but when working in the sector is affecting their mental – and physical – health, impacting on their ability to do their jobs properly and, in some cases, costing them their relationships, it’s hard to blame those that decide: ‘Enough is enough’.
“But it doesn’t have to be this way. That’s why we’re calling on the Department of Education and Ofsted to work with us to address workload concerns and to implement the support that many in the early years clearly need as a matter of urgency – and why we will continue to lobby government to finally address the funding concerns that are placing such unnecessary stress and pressure on so many in the sector.”