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New Publication Highlights Importance of Teachers in Early Years

07 October 2016 

The EIS and the Child’s Curriculum Group will, over two days this week, launch a follow-up publication to the survey report released earlier this year on the contribution of registered teachers in the early years sector.

The new ‘Sustain the Ambition’ booklet, echoes the original research report, funded by the EIS and independently conducted by the Child’s Curriculum Group, in highlighting the unique and valuable role of qualified teachers in nursery.

The booklet highlights further, however, an alarming 39% reduction in the numbers of GTCS-registered teachers employed in Early Years over a ten year period, at the same time as free entitlement to early learning and childcare is increasing (with the aim of this rising to 1,140 hours per year by 2021).

This is contrasted with a 4% drop in child numbers, which gives a ratio of 1 teacher to 94 children at this critically important stage, and amidst the backdrop of the Scottish Government's intention to close the poverty-related attainment gap, with much of this endeavour focused on early education and childcare.

Commenting, Susan Quinn, Convener of the EIS Education Committee, Susan Quinn, said, ‘The clear message of this booklet which has been designed to make the original research findings accessible to a wider audience, is that early exposure to a quality educational experience in the nursery setting brings a whole host of benefits to young children, many of which continue long-term.

"The booklet reinforces the conclusions of previous research that employing the skills and leadership of qualified teachers remains the best way to ensure a quality educational experience in all nursery settings.”

Aline-Wendy Dunlop of the Child’s Curriculum Group said, "Young children are a nation's future. Teachers play a unique role in Scottish Government's ambition for Scotland to be the best place for children and young people to grow up.

"If this is to be so, GTCS-registered teachers' rich contribution must be made available to all children in early learning and childcare on a regular basis. If the aspirations of 'Building the Ambition' are to be realised, recognising the important contribution teachers make to closing the attainment gap, through curriculum, pedagogy, additional support needs, family engagement, transitions, mentoring and leadership, is essential.” 

Chris Miles of the Child’s Curriculum Group added, "1400 teachers from preschool and early primary sectors chose to take part in 'Sustain the Ambition': the study launched today - their evidence combined with Government's own statistics shows that children need teachers to be a growing part of the early learning and childcare workforce to ensure equity of opportunity for children.”

Importantly, like the original research report, ‘Sustain the Ambition’ questions the varying commitment of councils across Scotland to the deployment of teachers in nurseries in spite of the evidence that nursery teachers make a positive difference to outcomes.

It is important that those involved in education delivery in all sectors are aware of the unique contribution of GTCS registered nursery teachers to the education of all of our children, and to delivering the early interventions that are essential in minimising the impact of poverty on children’s educational outcomes both within Early Years and beyond.

The booklet launch will comprise a twinning of events- one for a larger audience at the EIS conference for Headteachers and Depute Headteachers being held in central Edinburgh on Friday.

The other will take the form of a visit by EIS and Child’s Curriculum Group representatives on Monday 10 October at 10am to an East Renfrewshire nursery at Arthurlie Family Centre in Barrhead. East Renfrewshire is local authority which has maintained a strong commitment to employing registered teachers in the nursery setting.

East Renfrewshire convener for education and equalities, Councillor Elaine Green, said: "We are matching our investment in school infrastructure and an increased provision of childcare from 570 to 600 hours with a major investment in training for our early years staff. Ensuring that our youngest children are taught by a highly qualified team of staff brings long-term benefits to their educational outcomes.”

EIS HT Conference launch event: Friday 7 October, 1400hrs, George Hotel, 19-21 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2PB

East Renfrewshire launch event: Monday 10 October, 1000hrs, Arthurlie Family Centre, Roebank Drive, Barrhead, Renfrewshire, G78 2JB