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revitaliseResponse to Herald article 'Councils warned not to axe nursery teachers'

In response to an article by The Herald's Education Correspondent Andrew Denholm on Tuesday 19 May 2009 – 'Councils warned not to axe nursery teachers' - Carol Ball takes issue with some of the points raised.

Date: 20 May 2009

I think the comments on other early years staff were unfair and as their representatives it would have been nice to have been approached for a comment before publication.

The main points are:

1 - Lower paid vs Qualified:

The article says:
“cutting back on the number of qualified nursery staff and replacing them with lower-paid child development officers”.

Child development officers and nursery nurses ARE qualified nursery staff – the fact that they are lower paid reflects the ‘status’ that has been traditionally granted to teachers, not their qualifications or their contribution to the role. Indeed the 2005 research that UNISON commissioned pointed out the greater levels of early years study that nursery nurses have to do compared to nursery teachers*. It is nursery nurses, not teachers, who deliver the three-to-five curriculum. They are the early year’s professionals.

2 - What research shows:

The article says:
“However, research has repeatedly underlined the importance of teachers to the quality of nursery education.”

Actually, if anything, research shows the importance of fully qualified nursery nurses to nursery education, not teachers. The research above; the Scottish Early Years Review; and the Effective Provision of Pre-School Education project used by the Review, all said it is important to have well qualified staff in charge. The new degree level qualification for nursery nurses will deliver this, and will see more of our members in charge of establishments and not just limit these to teachers.

3 - Support... and reciprocation:

We are happy to support our teaching colleagues in their important role in delivering education in Scotland. We wish they would reciprocate and recognise the key role – especially in early years education – that our members provide and support an appropriate level of reward for them.

4 - The reality on the ground:

It is disappointing that the Government appears to be almost solely pandering to teacher status in its early years policy, rather than looking at the reality on the ground and recognising the key role of the main early years professionals.


Carol Ball, Chair of UNISONScotland’s Education Issues Group.