Scottish children cannot wait another 15 years for high quality childcare, says UNISON 

Date: Monday 01 June 2015

Responding to another Independent Review of the Scottish Early Learning and Childcare Workforce, UNISON has called time on the Scottish Government, demanding they now act to deliver improved childcare and early years education in Scotland.

The report, which has been published today (1 June 2015), was commissioned by the Scottish Government.

Carol Ball, chair of UNISON Scotland education issues group, said:

“It’s time for action on childcare and early years.

“This is the second major review of the early years and childcare workforce in less than ten years and the Commission for Childcare reform has also published its interim findings.

“The recommendations in this report are similar to those in previous reports.

“When a similar childcare and early learning  workforce review was published 2006 UNISON accepted we had to allow time for the private and voluntary sectors to catch up, for example,  to work towards a better qualified workforce.

“This is now long enough. We cannot wait another 15 years for change. We need to set minimum qualifications for all childcare and early learning workforce at HNC level.”

Carol also said:
“Children who are in the system now need high quality support in their early years; parents need flexible childcare so they can balance work and family; and the staff who deliver the service need decent terms and conditions.

“It’s now time to get on with delivering a national childcare service that we can all be proud of.

“We cannot just keep planning for the next generation and ignoring the needs of today’s young children and families. Our children deserve better.”

UNISON Scotland published its childcare charter on 16 March 2015  – which called high quality childcare for children, expanded parental leave and better pay and conditions and training for the childcare workforce.

The Scottish Government independent review of childcare by Professor Iram Siraj can be seen here:



Danny Phillips UNISON communications officer 07944 664110
Carol Ball, chair of UNISON education issues group, 07803 952263

Notes to editor

 UNISON Scotland believes that:

  • childcare should be provided in the public sector as it makes it is easier to ensure that the workforce is properly paid and well qualified and it gives better protection to childcare workers who need all the same rights and opportunities, for example flexible working, as other workers.
  • Good terms and conditions are how you attract and keep skilled workers. The focus on the workforce that this report provides is welcome: having well qualified staff, particularly staff with a degree level qualification working in a nursery is key to good outcomes for the children.
  • The Education Scotland Report Making the Difference: the impact of staff qualifications children’s learning in the early years (2011) shows that of the nursery centres they had inspected: 27% of local authority centres, 28% of private centres and 13% of voluntary centres had one member of staff with a BA in Childhood Practice. In local authority centres 87% had access to a teacher, 39% of private sector nurseries and 32% in the voluntary sector. Those who are able to access nursery services in the public sector have substantially more access to staff with degree level qualifications.
  • The childcare workforce, particularly in the private sector, is not well paid. The knowledge and skills required, as with much work traditionally done by women, are not widely recognised or rewarded in the market. This needs to be challenged. There is a substantial pay gap between the sectors.
  • A UNISON survey of vacancies showed that the public sector is offering jobs at approx £11 per hour while the range in the private and voluntary sector was £7 to a high of £8.50. Where jobs were offered with an annual salary the public sector range was £19 to £23,000 a rate more in line with that being offered for mangers in the private sector where some posts offered a £16,000 to manage a nursery.
  • Developing the right childcare cannot be separated from improved maternity leave and flexible working rights. Families need time to look after their own children and a fair work/life balance. Supporting families to spend time supporting their children is also key to closing the attainment gap.