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MSP Briefing - Early Years Framework
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MSP Briefing - Early Years Framework

Introduction

This briefing sets out UNISON Scotlandís position on the Early Years Framework to be debated on 5th February 2009. UNISON Scotland is uniquely placed to comment on how to develop policies in this area. We represent the vast majority of workers working with children in their early years: midwives; health visitors; community nurses; school nurses; nursery nurses; social workers; nursery nurses. UNISON also represents the vast majority of support staff in schools.

UNISON Scotland agrees that the earliest years of life are crucial to a childís development and that universal public services are the key to supporting childrenís development and supporting those children most at risk of not achieving their true potential. It is the delivery of the framework, the funding available and the development of the skills of staff and their terms and conditions that will be the key to achieving these laudable aims. We would like clarity on the following:

  • The detail of the delivery mechanisms and how the changes in service delivery and workforce development will be implemented are not clear. This makes it difficult to evaluate the framework.
  • UNISON believes that the framework must be implemented in partnership with trade unions.

  • UNISON has concerns about how the current review of nursing in the community will affect the governmentís aims for early years and early intervention. The current move to a generic community health nurse will reduce the availability and expertise available to both identify those families in need of early intervention and provide adequate support once a need has been identified.

  • It is nursery nurses, not teachers, who deliver the three-to-five curriculum. They are the early yearís professionals. UNISON is concerned that the framework focuses on improving the training of teachers rather than nursery nurses.

UNISON believes that a key way to improve the chances of Scotlandís children is to raise the status of work in this area in order to recruit and retain a skilled workforce. The following will help to achieve this aim:

  • Substantially improving the qualifications, career prospects and rewards of early years and childcare workers. In particular recognition that nursery nurses are the key early years professionals
  • Making substantial progress on the further steps needed to recognise and integrate the work of school support staff into the life of education establishments; the qualifications, career pathways and personal development of these staff; this of course has implications for the pay and conditions of these staff.
  • Addressing past discrimination on equal pay and ensuring local authorities make provision to meet their equal pay obligations.

Conclusion

UNISON supports the commitment to improving the lives of Scotlandís children stated in the framework. It is the delivery of the framework, the funding available and the development of the skills of staff and their terms and conditions that will be the key to achieving this improvement. The framework so far does not contain enough detail in order to evaluate whether it will achieve the governments aims.

For further information contact:

Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser d.watson@unison.co.uk Tel. 07958 122409

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Further Information

Dave Watson,
Scottish Organiser d.watson@unison.co.uk
Tel. 07958122409

Kay Sillars,
Information Development Officer
k.sillars@unison.co.uk