Mothers ditch childcare jobs

19th November 2004 at 00:00
Nursery staff cannot afford nursery fees for their own babies. Dorothy Lepkowska and Tamsin Snow report

Early-years and childcare workers quit their jobs when they become parents because of poor pay and guilt about leaving their children with other carers, a report shows.

It reveals that although they are happy to care for other people's children, some staff believe that their own offspring would be best brought up at home.

The report, from Manchester Business School, says most nursery nurses "can earn the same working in Topshop or Asda, without the responsibility". This meant there were fewer early-years staff between 25 and 35 than in older age groups.

Researchers from the European Work and Employment Research Centre interviewed 120 workers and managers in 35 private and public nurseries in north-west England.

They found that low pay influenced how the work was valued. Poor earnings encouraged society to attach low value to a job, which in turn damaged recruitment and retention.

"Nursery workers are more likely to be poorly paid than social care workers, in spite of having two years' training and the same level of qualification," it said.

The report, funded by the European Social Fund, revealed that nursery nurses and other child-care staff working for private providers could not afford to place their children in nurseries where they worked, even when offered discounts by owners.

Researchers Mark Smith, Sirin Sung, Marilyn Carroll and Gwen Oliver said the findings also highlighted tensions between looking after other people's children and their own.

"Although childcare workers are trained to provide professional childcare services, they appeared to construct these services negatively, as 'leaving' one's children, rather than positively 'giving' them an opportunity," they said.

"This perspective, combined with practical difficulties, may further encourage childcare workers to leave in order to provide the 'ideal, home-based' care for their own children.

"Thus the beliefs and expectations about motherhood may have implications for retention and loss of staff in formal childcare and early education services.

"Parents may prefer not to pay for their child to be cared for while being paid to look after other people's children, but it is also likely that childcare workers simply do not earn enough to pay for formal childcare."

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now