A pay increase of just under £1 an hour makes the difference between childcare settings with a ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted grade, according to a new study which finds strong links between staff pay and quality in nurseries in England.
The report, In for a pound, by the Family and Childcare Trust found that nurseries and pre-schools awarded ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted pay their staff an average hourly wage of £8.37 compared to £7.44 in settings that have achieved a ‘Good’ grade. Nurseries graded ‘Requires Improvement’ or ‘Inadequate’ pay an average of £6.92 an hour.
This link between pay and Ofsted grades is replicated in each of England’s nine regions and is most pronounced in London where £2.58 an hour is the difference between ‘Outstanding’ settings and those that are ‘Inadequate’ or ‘Requires Improvement’, says the Trust. In the North West, this difference is reduced to £2 an hour.
Julia Margo, chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust said: “It is no surprise that higher pay produces higher quality provision. We know that only good quality childcare makes a positive difference to the lives of disadvantaged children which is why we are calling on the Department for Education to address low pay in its forthcoming early years’ workforce strategy.
“Longer term, we want to see a fully graduate-led workforce with a minimum professional rate of pay, bringing early years professionals in line with their school colleagues. Without this, low pay will continue to discourage highly skilled people from joining the profession and will affect the quality of care received by our children.”
Other report recommendations include further research by Ofsted on the relationship between early years childcare provider income, staff wages and quality, to provide the Government with evidence to inform policy making; an increase in the amount of dedicated funding to support training and increase the proportion of qualified early years practitioners; and the introduction of an admissions code for free early education to support parents’ rights.