It is a well-known fact that a quarter of children do not have basic communication and language skills which makes early childhood education in the UK in demand. That translates into eight children in every reception class. However, the numbers enrolling on Early Years Initial Teacher Training courses have dropped for a fourth consecutive year, from 2,327 in 2013-14 to 1,939 last year. This means universities are having to cut these courses because the numbers are no longer sustainable. Furthermore, the Treasury Select Committee has voiced concerns over childcare funding pressures.


Impacts of the pandemic on early childhood education

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused widespread concern across the UK, but what are the effects of this disease on young children in the UK? In addition to the immediate health concerns, the pandemic has caused environmental and political stress, which are harmful to young children’s development. With this in mind, educators must consider how this crisis is affecting young children and take steps to support their learning.

A study has now been published exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the UK’s early childhood education system. The study, conducted by the Centre for Evidence and Implementation, University of East London, Frontier Economics, Coram Family and Childcare, and the Institute of Fiscal Studies, aimed to understand how the pandemic affected early education. It found a range of local support for early education, with a limited number of permanent setting closures reported by most local authorities.

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The pandemic affected children aged 0-5 years in the UK, and older children in other countries. It affected children with SEND and children with disadvantaged backgrounds. The Government has provided supplementary funding to maintain nursery schools. Since 2017, this has been agreed upon annually. However, the loss of parent fees and Government funding has impacted the income of maintained nursery schools.


Impacts of changing work contexts on early childhood educators

Many aspects of a workplace affect the health and well-being of early childhood educators, including the quality of professional development and organisational culture. Yet, these factors are not explicitly addressed in the NQS. As such, organisations may need to focus on what matters most to educators, and how to improve the psychological climate of their work environments.

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Early educators have long struggled with low wages and insufficient health benefits. Some are even forced to make difficult decisions about whether they want to prioritize their health or safety. The impact of this pandemic is bringing these realities to light. Many early educators have had to choose between health care or a paycheck.

While early childhood professional development has recently received increased attention, more research is needed to determine what works and at what cost. In addition, research should be focused on the characteristics of individual caregivers and the specific contexts in which they work.


Impacts of gender imbalance on early childhood education in the UK

There are disproportionately few men working in early childhood education in the UK. The sector has one of the lowest gender balances of all caring professions. Yet, the lack of diversity in this sector is not unique to the UK. It is particularly extreme in other sectors, such as the health and social care sectors. Only 15% of primary school teachers are male, while 11% of nurses and social workers are male. This lack of diversity is often attributed to men’s perceived lack of interest in caring work and the perceived threat it poses to their masculinity. Some males even complain about the lack of pay that they receive.

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This gender imbalance affects early childhood development in two ways. First, it leads to fewer opportunities for boys and girls to engage in physical activity and play. Boys are more likely to be supervised by a male, while girls are more likely to be left alone. Secondly, it hinders the development of children as they are unable to develop their physical and mental health. Furthermore, girls receive less access to early learning opportunities and nutritious food than boys, which hinders their development.