Rainbow logoRainbow Day Nursery & Pre-School in Chertsey, Surrey

We are an all-year-round setting which takes children from babies to age five and right now we are not particularly under-staffed. But that is only because our child numbers are substantially down at this time of year, as usual, following the transition of all of our oldest children to school.

Towards the end of June, which is our peak period for occupancy, our answer would have been ‘yes, we are certainly under-staffed’ – and at that time we were short of about five full-time equivalent key carers. For context, we are very large in nursery terms (ie 224 places) and need about 45 key carers on site on our busier days. We aim to far exceed the statutory requirements and like to have as many of our keycarers Level 3 qualified as possible.  I worry even more now about what we will do when we are again at peak occupancy next year.

It is difficult to quantify precisely but generally speaking there are clearly too few Level 3 qualified staff available – and even attracting trainees has become more difficult because people are put off by the GCSE requirements.  Our bills from staffing agencies have risen significantly.

The GCSE rule is a major factor for the sector’s staffing problems. Childcare has previously provided a career path for people who are either not academically-inclined or have been let down by their schools. We have some wonderful staff who don’t hold much in the way of GCSEs.  In fact, we currently have several who are preparing for their GCSE Maths and we’ve hired a private tutor because their starting level was very low.


For all that – maybe someone in Government can explain to us all how much of the GCSE maths curriculum is required when working with children under the age of five.

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