The Most Rewarding Job in the World

23rd August 2022

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We’re on a mission to spread the word that working with children in the early years is the most rewarding job in the world. But we need your help.

Moments of learning, discovery and pure joy are played out thousands of times a day in every early years setting across the country. These learning opportunities spark thousands of connections in children’s brains and set them off on a lifelong voyage of discovery.

But many people – including parents – are unaware of their significance and don’t necessarily consider practitioners as the educators that they obviously are. They are not aware of how much the brain absorbs in its first five years of life.

The First Five Years Count

NDNA wants to change that with our campaign, First Five Years Count, aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of the importance of high quality early childhood education and care for children’s development, wellbeing and outcomes.

Our campaign will also bolster the perception of the early years workforce as educators of young children, address the recruitment and retention crisis, increase positive feedback for the workforce and support the uptake of early years places.

The Duchess of Cambridge’s Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood found in its research that more needs to be done to recognise the first five years of life. Each person connected to early years has a role to play in making this time a priority for society.

Every pound spent on a child’s early education will save many more in their later schooling. This is particularly true of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. And yet, reports from Ofsted and Education Policy Institute show that the attainment gap is widening between the highest performing and lowest performing school pupils. High quality early education can close this gap and give all children an equal start.

But it’s more than that. Early years practitioners teach our children to be confident, caring citizens of the future – they are influencers, comforters, family advisers, first aiders, rescuers and superheroes.

This confidence and care bears out in their later education. The EPPSE study, which studied the influence on pre-school education on children up to 16 and beyond, found that “pre-school has a positive and long term impact on children’s attainment, progress and social-behavioural development.”

At NDNA, we have taken the initiative with our First Five Years Count campaign. We have seen lots of advertisements and incentives encouraging talented people into becoming school teachers. We have supported campaign efforts in Scotland and Wales aimed at recruitment but we know that this has to sit in the bigger picture: why everything that early years practitioners do day in, day out, matters so much.

Supporting the First Five Years Count Campaign

In order to properly celebrate all that these dedicated and selfless people do, we want to hear more from them. We are asking practitioners to send us their testimonials and also take part in videos talking about their experiences in early years settings.

Why do they choose early years? What is their favourite part of the day? How do they feel about shaping so many children’s lives?

We want those who already work with young children to speak out and encourage others to consider a career in early years. We want to attract students and high school pupils, career changers, including men and people the age of 50 who are looking for something more rewarding or an opportunity to make a difference.

The current recruitment and retention crisis, made much worse by the pandemic, high employment and the rising cost of living, are all extremely challenging for the sector. We are lobbying UK governments including the devolved governments in Wales and Scotland to give their support to the sector.

We need governments to support us by addressing the qualifications challenge – to include measures such as bridging qualifications and practical short courses – but also careers pathways and grants for early childhood students.

We know these changes won’t happen overnight but we need to start; and start positively. By getting as many people as possible to spread the word and influence society‘s attitudes towards childcare we can build better outcomes for our children.

So please help us spread the word by sharing our messages and your positive experiences; making a five-point pinwheel from our template to represents a child’s first five years; following the #firstfiveyearscount hashtag on social media and showing support for your early years sector by signing up to our campaign today.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, NDNA’s Chief Executive will be speaking on a panel discussion about recruitment and retention in the sector on 26th November 2022 at our Childcare & Education Virtual Summit.

Why attend Childcare & Education Expo?

Join over 2,500 like-minded individuals from the early years & primary sector who are dedicated to improving their practice and their education settings.

Attend educational seminars and panel discussions to credit your CPD

Meet the experts to have your questions answered

Receive fantastic onsite offers and discounts

Experience expert-led informative hands-on workshops

Network with peers and industry players

Pick up hundreds of new products, resources, ideas and services

And most of all, enjoy a great day out with your colleagues

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