Early years matters. Stop taking us for granted!

The blog below, written by a private nursery owner, appeared on Upstart’s Twitterfeed on 14-2-21.  It sums up scores of complaints we’ve heard over recent months from nursery staff and child-minders.

Scotland has a ‘mixed economy’ in early learning and childcare and should treat all elements of it equally, but support for the private sector during COVID has been practically non-existent.

As our anonymous author makes clear, this lack of attention is an indication of the lack of esteem in which the early learning and care (ELC) workforce is held. Scotland has to stop seeing ELC as ‘the bottom of the pile’, start to recognise that it’s the foundation uppoon which children’s lifelong learning is based … and treat all providers and practitioners accordingly. 

Sue Palmer, Chair of Upstart Scotland

EARLY YEARS MATTER. STOP TAKING US FOR GRANTED!

Toddler girl in child occupational therapy session doing playful exercises with her therapist during Covid - 19 pandemic, both wearing protective face masks. Web banner.

I’ve been having a moment contemplating… I think of myself as a reasonable person but I’m at a loss to understand this!

CapturelockdownI am the owner of three nursery settings. From the beginning of lockdown, I’ve tried really hard not to feel like a victim and keep going. In March, the Government closed us … but also said we needed to stay open so that critical and frontline workers could carry on! We – like the troopers we are – did so! Ran the settings at massive losses but felt we were doing our bit. In return, we got no grants (the first ones based on rateable value), the insurers
said no pay-out, and to top it off, nurseries were not allowed to access furlough in the
same way as others!
Still we were doing our bit – never mind that NOONE thought we were frontline. No clapping for us and no priority in supermarket queues. Clearly we had super powers and would not be affected by the Global Pandemic!
Since that point, we have worked tirelessly, with huge changes in our operating. We work with children all day giving them a cuddle or hug because they need it. We get coughed and sicked on but we take it in our stride. We do all the personal care as we’ve always done and SOCIAL DISTANCING is something that is SIMPLY NOT POSSIBLE! Yes we have the choice of wearing PPE but we often overlook this because we don’t want the children to feel strange.
CapturehandsAll our fingers have blisters from the amount of antiviral cleaners and bleach being used! We are the only business sector that remains open without any insurance cover and when we close, due to positive cases in children or staff, we have no lockdown support. But perhaps most significantly, we work in a sector where social distancing is impossible and our job cannot be done by working remotely! Still we carry on day in day out!
But what really pisses me off is why Early Years settings and workers are not given the recognition they deserve. When it came to lateral flow testing, we ended up at the bottom of the pile because someone presumably thought that that coronavirus discriminates and obviously doesn’t affect nurseries!
When PPE was given out, once again little or no supplies to us because as a private business we should take the cost on the chin! Recently, we’ve had the idiocy of the vaccine rollout, in which we don’t even feature as a priority. This is just unacceptable. I feel we should have been amongst the FIRST, along with the frontline workers, that qualified to be vaccinated.
I’ve had my vaccine and pushed my team to do the same, not because I’m queue jumping but because I want to get over the sick feeling that I live with everyday that I cannot keep them safe! I make no apologies for my actions and I want my sector’s contribution to be acknowledged and I’m sick of us being at the bottom of the pile.
No! This is not good enough! Early Years matter. Stop taking us for granted. 

2 comments

  • So well said!! I am an owner of several settings and out of school care. This week we have had to close one nursery and 2 rooms in another one because of positive cases. We risk our staff health to stay open for key workers, where is our vaccine. I have had enough of the way we have been treated for years, well before Covid, yet we carry on because we have a passion for children’s early development and well being. I don’t know how long I can continue and keep smiling, we need support and most of all respect and recognition from Scottish Government and Local authorities, to be treated fairly. They know we are crucial to families who work and study, employment and we are needed to get the economy back on its feet. Maree Todd, Nicola Sturgeon , John Swinney, Kate Forbes, you know of our issues PLEASE take action, before it’s too late !!

  • I agree with every word. I work in a Nursery and feel a bit let down too. We are all Educated and qualified NOT Babysitters. We should have been looked after better x

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