In January 2000 there were, according to a Department for Education and Employment bulletin, 8,200 teaching staff working with three and four-year-olds in maintained nursery and primary schools in England. Another 10,900 adults worked alongside these teachers.
As regards staffing ratios the most generous were to be found in London, the South-East and eastern regions of England. The poorest ratios were in Yorkshire and the Humber and the East Midlands regions.
Almost one in four of all nursery teaching staff then were working in the London boroughs. This contrasts with five authorities, mainly in the South-West, which are each recorded as having less than 10 full-time equivalent teaching staff. Indeed, one-third of all the South-West's nursry teachers worked in the city of Bristol.
The pattern of concentration in urban areas was repeated elsewhere. In the Yorkshire and the Humber government office region nearly 40, per cent of the teachers were working in just three cities: Bradford, Leeds and Sheffield.
Looking to the future, the number of under-fives in schools has started to decline as the fall in the birth rate begins to take effect. In January 2000, there were 9,000 fewer three and four-year-olds in school than a year previously.
The total will continue to fall over the next few years. Therefore, it is likely that fewer teaching posts will be created than have been in recent years and jobs in the nursery sector may become harder to find.