The Learning Zone is based in Stevenage, Hertfordshire

We are an Outstanding rated nursery with high expectations of staff but we have had major recruitment problems within our last year, and the GCSE rule is a major factor in that.

We are finding our good staff are being recruited by state schools – they pay better and offer more secure roles in the eyes of staff – and when we try to replace, we are having to select from a pool of people who generally do not have the aptitude required to work with children or who cannot cope with the learning journals. So we are left short-staffed even in our quietest months, making holiday and sick cover so hard. Another barrier to Level 3 training is the cost, reflected in the number of staff in the sector who are trained to Level 2, which is either free or significantly cheaper to study.

As well as being a manager, I have another role visiting and supporting settings in our area, and there is one day nursery I know who say they have to employ practically whoever arrives for the role due to shortages. With the 30 hours entitlement coming in I am worried.

I have now decided to leave as manager in April because of these issues, after being in this job for 30 years. I will leave with sadness and frustration that the early years sector has become so undervalued, and that no one listens.


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