Staffing an Acute Challenge for Providers Facing Inspections

 

Staffing an Acute Challenge for Providers Facing Inspections

Ofsted’s current inspection framework places a great degree of emphasis on staff knowledge and capabilities. During an inspection, staff can expect inspectors to want to talk to them about the children they look after, to test their knowledge of the child’s needs and progress. This is intended to move away from the older paper and records based approach that was criticised in some quarters for not truly reflecting the day to day running of a setting.

For most settings this approach makes good sense. Few people are as dedicated to their jobs as early years staff and most providers are keen to show off their people. However, the sector is also in the midst of a recruitment crisis, with some settings reporting vacancies lasting for months at a time, while staff move employers quickly, taking advantage of increased salary offers. While settings are managing in these circumstances, when inspectors come calling, it could impact their rating. The scenario is easy to imagine, a settings struggling to recruit permanent staff is forced to rely on short term bank replacements. No matter how hard working and competent they are, they will never have the in depth knowledge of children that other staff do.

There are some indications this has happened. A snap Twitter poll by the NDNA recorded 66% had reduced their childcare places due to staffing issues and 16% had had to close rooms. 11% reported that they had been downgraded due to the struggle to recruit. The poll was small, and probably should not be relied upon as an accurate picture of the sector, but even so, it does suggest the recruitment crisis is starting to impact on settings’ sustainability.

Staff are any childcare settings’ most critical resource. Morton Michel’s Childcare Club includes benefits that may help with retention, from free training with flick learning to a variety of discounts and benefits.