The Scottish Executive launched its long-awaited review of the early years and childcare workforce this week following the end of the nursery nurses'
The year-long review will be confined largely to the 30,000 non-teaching staff in the pre-school sector, but it does not rule out making recommendations on issues such as the transition to primary or working across professional boundaries. It will be chaired by a senior official from the Executive with outside representation, including Unison and the local authorities.
Peter Peacock, Education Minister, is keen to see employees working with the under-fives being able to move jobs and therefore enjoy enhanced career prospects. One issue the review will undoubtedly have to consider is whether there should be one category of early years professional.
Mr Peacock accepted there could be knock-on salary effects but stressed:
"The primary focus is not pay and conditions, but I recognise the work will have potential implications for pay and conditions, for example by improving qualifications, career paths and the status of the sector."
Ministers were warned by Ewan Aitken, education spokesperson for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, that the review should focus on how the service is to be delivered, not on regrading.
Unison welcomed the Executive's move. Joe Di Paola, its Scottish organiser for local government, said the nursery nurses' dispute had given the sector a high profile but a "wage free-for-all" was not helpful in providing consistent levels of service.