LONDON, November 29—There has been a steep decline in the number of people training to become early years teachers, new government figures show. Data released on Thursday shows that only 365 people are embarking on the course – a drop of a third since last year, and a decrease of 84% since 2013/14.
At the same time, new government figures show two in five (43%) children in poverty in England were unable to speak in full sentences, follow basic instructions and express themselves in their first year of primary school.
Official figures reveal a dramatic and persistent gulf between rich and poor. One in four (26%) better-off children are struggling with basic skills at the age of five, meaning there is a 17-percentage point gap between poorer children and their peers across England. This gap has widened slightly since last year (by 0.3%) for the first time in four years.
One of the key ways to help children catch up is high-quality childcare. Yet the number of people obtaining a key qualification that could help narrow this gap between rich and poor has fallen for the fourth year running.
Save the Children has previously identified that there are 11,000nurseries across England that do not employ an early years teacher. In the most disadvantaged areas, where the need is most urgent, 2,000 early years teachers are needed.
To create an enriching and nurturing environment that supports childrens development, nurseries and other childcare settings need a workforce with a mixture of skills, experience and backgrounds, all with key roles to play.
As part of the right mix of skills and expertise, evidence shows that childcare settings led by a graduate early years teacher are able to provide higher-quality care and education. Early years teachers are trained to support childrens early development, and to identify and support those who are struggling. This includes providing parents with help to support their childrens development at home. Evidence shows early years teachers benefit disadvantaged children the most.
Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds recently pledged to halve the number of pupils starting school behind in talking and reading skills by 2028, but earlier this year the government axed a key commitment to address the early years teacher shortage – a decision criticised by charities, schools and nursery leaders.
Save the Childrens Director of UK Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns, Steven McIntosh, said:
“This steep decline in early years teacher trainees represents a crisis in the childcare workforce. Highly qualified early years teachers play a crucial role in helping children catch up, and are especially needed now with recent figures showing that poorer children are still so much more likely to fall behind by the time they start primary school.
The Governments commitment to close this early learning gap is welcome, but it is failing to invest in what we know works – a highly qualified childcare workforce. Unless the government gets to grips with this staffing crisis, a generation of children are at risk of being left behind.”
The charity has today published a report, It All Starts Here, which reveals that widespread dissatisfaction with pay, status and conditions is driving existing professionals from the sector and deterring people from becoming early years teachers.
Save the Children would like to see the Government address this staffing crisis as a priority and is calling for trial schemes to support recruitment and retention of early years teachers in some of the most disadvantaged parts of England by boosting salaries, especially in the first five years following graduation.
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
- 57% of disadvantaged pupils achieved a good level of development in 2017-18, compared with 74% of non-disadvantaged pupils – an attainment gap of 17pp. The gap has not changed since last year.
- The proportion of children achieving a good level of development has increased slightly, with 71.5% of children reaching this, up from 70.7% last year.
- Nationally, this years figures cover 652,400 children. 28.5% (185,934) failed to achieve a good level of development.
- Girls do better than boys – 78.4% of girls attained a good level of development, compared with 65% of boys. The gender gap is decreasing, but very slowly, from 13.7 percentage points last year, to 13.5 percentage points this year.
- Poor children are those who have claimed eligibility for free school meals through a qualifying benefit such as income support or universal credit.
- This years full EYFSP results can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/early-years-foundation-stage-profile-results-2017-to-2018
- This years early years training enrolment figures can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/initial-teacher-training-trainee-number-census-2018-to-2019
- There is mounting evidence of a recruitment crisis in early years teachers. Universities have stopped delivering the courses because the numbers are not sustainable. And Parliaments Treasury Select Committee set out major concerns that childcare funding pressures are leaving providers cutting back on higher-qualified staff.
- Save the Childrens report, It All Starts Here: Tackling the crisis in the early years teacher workforce, draws on 368 survey responses and 51 phone interviews with the early years sector, including early years teachers, course leaders for the EYT programme, academics, and members of the wider early years workforce.
- Save the Children is calling for the government to invest in recruiting and retaining EYTs in the most disadvantaged areas by:
- Trialling early career payments for the first five years of working in private, voluntary, and independent settings in disadvantaged areas mirroring an existing scheme for secondary maths teachers.
- Trialling a salary supplement scheme to top up wages, to enable providers to afford the additional cost of employing a graduate.
- The government to work with the sector to create an example job description for early years teachers to ensure that settings place graduates in roles where they can have the greatest impact.
- The government to work with the sector to establish a national induction resource for all newly qualified early years teachers.
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Oxfam forced to suspend Ebola response in DR Congo following pre-election violence
Oxfam has been forced to suspend its work in the Ebola ravaged areas of Beni and Butembo, due to vio..
Oxfam has been forced to suspend its work in the Ebola ravaged areas of Beni and Butembo, due to violent protests following the announcement that people in these areas wont be able to cast their votes for a new president, when the rest of country goes to the polls this Sunday.
Raphael Mbuyi, Oxfams acting Country Director in the DRC said: “This is an extremely worrying situation, as every time the Ebola response has been suspended before weve seen a big spike in the number of new cases. This could mean Ebola spreading to even more people and potentially other countries in the region, putting many more lives at risk.
“However, its not surprising that people who have had their votes taken away at the last minute are frustrated and going to the streets. These people deserve to have their say as well.
“All parties need to find a way for people who have been devastated by Ebola and have lived through decades of violent conflict, to cast their vote.
“Whatever the outcome, there needs to be an end to the years of misery people in this country have had to endure. Just because elections are being held does not mean there will be peace.”
Notes to editors
Spokespeople available for interview in Kinshasa, DRC and in the UK.
For more information or to request an interview, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)1865 472498.
For updates, please follow @Oxfam.
Gaza’s water crisis is ‘a ticking time bomb’
Reporter Sandy Tolan – In the Middle East’s Gaza Strip, a narrow piece of contested land where three..
Reporter Sandy Tolan – In the Middle East’s Gaza Strip, a narrow piece of contested land where three out of four people are refugees, unsafe drinking water has led to a worsening health crisis. Gazan children suffer from diarrhea, kidney disease, stunted growth and impaired IQ.
Twenty years ago, 85 percent of Gazas drinking wells were too contaminated for human consumption. Today, that figure is 97 percent.
Local tap water is too salty to drink because the aquifer below Gaza has been over-pumped so severely that seawater is flowing in. Two-thirds of Gazans get water delivered by truck. Desalinated water is pumped into rooftop tanks via hoses. But the desalinated water is unregulated and because this water has virtually no salt, its prone to fecal contamination. When children drink this water, they get diarrhea.
Repeated bouts of diarrhea can lead to stunting and developmental problems, including a measurable impact on IQ. Late last year a British medical journal found an “alarming magnitude”of stunting among Gazan children.
Children drink and fill water jugs at a mosque in Gaza City.
Credit: Abdel Kareem Hanna/The World
“If you really want to change the lives of people, you have to solve the water issue first,” says Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesperson for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. “Otherwise, you will see a huge collapse of everything in Gaza.”
“It’s a ticking time bomb,” agrees Gidon Bromberg, director of EcoPeace Middle East, based in Tel Aviv. “We have a situation where two million people no longer have access to potable groundwater. When people are drinking unhealthy water … disease is a direct consequence. Should pandemic disease break out in Gaza, people will simply start moving to the fences of Israel and Egypt, and they won’t be moving with stones or with rockets. Theyll be moving with empty buckets, desperately calling out for clean water.”
Assigning blame for the plight of Gazans is not exactly simple. Take the fact that only three percent of Gazas drinking water wells are actually drinkable. Is that because Gazas citrus farmers pumped too much? Or because Israeli agricultural settlers depleted a deep pocket of fresh water before they left Gaza in 2005? Or the simple fact that Gazas population quadrupled in a matter of weeks when towns and villages fell to Israel in 1948?
Food- and water-borne diseases have also been a concern — the power is shut off for 20 hours a day. Are Israel and Egypt to blame for withholding fuel deliveries? Or Israel, for bombing water and sewage infrastructure in Gaza during the 2014 war? Or the fight between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which deprives Gazans of critical medicines? Israels economic blockade of Gaza contributes to worsening poverty, skyrocketing unemployment and child malnutrition, according to several human rights groups.
A peace deal could have connected Gaza to the West Bank, where the vast Mountain Aquifer is big enough to end Gazas water crisis. As it is, there is no peace. The two Palestinian territories are splintered. And Israel has effective control over all the water.
Critics say Israel could solve the whole problem by simply implementing power lines into Gaza. But Israeli officials say they are already sending water to Gaza and to do more would be rewarding Gazas bad actors.
“What’s going on in Gaza is a real catastrophe,” says Ori Shor, spokesperson of the Israeli Water Authority. “The situation there is unbearable. But it’s also frustrating, at least from our point of view, because it’s a bit difficult to help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves. The problem in Gaza is really that Hamas does nothing to try even to solve the problem.”
Shor says Israel is providing more than twice the amount of water they are obligated to provide based on current agreements. But that amount is just a fraction of the clean water Gazans need every day.
Fifteen members of the Nimnim family at home in the Beach refugee camp.
Credit: Abdel Kareem Hanna/The World