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Childcare – not just a job, a vocation

PACEY reports

  • Low pay and poor status are shared concerns for childminders, nannies and nursery workers which threaten the longevity of their commitment to the childcare profession 
  • Many childcare professionals fight poor access to training by investing their own time and money in further qualifications to help improve their professional standing
  • Childcare workers make a significant contribution to society – for every £1 childcare workers are paid, they generate between £7 and £9.50 worth of benefits to society.[1]

PACEY's new report on childcare careers reveals that low pay and a lack of professional recognition remain the major issues facing today’s childcare professionals.

In response PACEY has made six recommendations for the Government, parents and childcare professionals that it believes will help to safeguard high quality childcare for children and families and keep more committed childcare professionals in the sector. The calls range from proposals on funding to the role of childcare regulation.

The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) is the first standard-setting professional association for childcare professionals, including childminders, nursery workers and nannies - the individuals providing frontline care and early learning to children and families.

PACEY is the new identity of the National Childminding Association (NCMA), an organisation with over 35,000 members. The report Childcare – not just a job, a vocation found that over 75% of nannies and 62% of nursery workers cited lack of professional recognition as a critical concern about their job. A concern echoed by the majority of PACEY’s childminder members.

Low pay was also considered a key issue with 83% of nursery workers identifying it as their number one concern.  These two factors threaten the future quality of childcare in the UK, with many experienced and well qualified individuals indicating that they may eventually be forced to leave the profession.

Liz Bayram and Catherine Farrell, Joint Chief Executives of PACEY, commented:

“PACEY is being launched at a critical time for childcare when multiple changes are being considered in the sector, from new entry and qualification requirements to childminder agencies and ratio changes. For the first time PACEY will enable one voice to represent all childcare professionals. Working with our members, we will focus on setting standards, promoting best practice and supporting our members to deliver high standards of care and learning. Our report shows that childminders, nannies and nursery workers share a dedication to giving children the best start in life and we want to ensure they are supported, recognised and rewarded for doing so.”

Leading childcare expert and author Penny Tassoni has become the new President of PACEY. She adds:

"The early years sector is diverse, but united in its aims for children and their families. The creation of PACEY reflects the need for an individual membership organisation that is open to all who work in the sector. I welcome the fact PACEY is dedicated to supporting all childcare professionals working directly with children to do the best job they can." 

Report recommendations:

1.     Government, both nationally and locally, should focus its already significant investment in childcare on frontline providers, so that they have the resources needed to invest in their own quality improvement.

2.     Government should recognise the role regulation plays in driving up quality. It should, as is currently being proposed in England, require all those entering the profession to hold at least a full and relevant Level 3 qualification. In doing so, it should recognise the different pathways individuals entering the profession take and ensure barriers to entering the profession are minimised. It should require regulators to place a greater emphasis on the training and development that individual childcare professionals undertake, as part of their inspection process.

3.     Government should ensure adequate funding for childcare by both providing parents with greater childcare support, for example through employer supported childcare vouchers, and ensuring the funding providers receive to deliver the free entitlement covers their costs for doing so

4.     Parents need to ask more about the qualifications and experience of the people caring for their children. PACEY believes parents should value the qualifications and training of individuals working in settings as much as they currently rely on the Ofsted grading or CSSIW inspection result of each setting to judge quality

5.     Childcare professionals should be proud of their professionalism and dedication to childcare and promote it more to parents, to other children’s professionals and to decision makers in local and national government. PACEY will support childcare professionals in this area

6.     Finally PACEY believes society more generally needs to better understand and value the work of everyone in childcare and early years and we will work towards achieving this aim.

Childcare professionals interested in becoming PACEY members can find out more about the benefits of membership. Follow PACEY on twitter @PACEYchildcare

Parents and others interested in how PACEY membership helps childcare professionals deliver high quality childcare can find information on our professional standards and Code of Ethics.


PACEY is the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years. A standard-setting organisation, we promote best practice and support childcare professionals to deliver high standards of care and learning.

Since 1977 we have provided high quality support to our members and have worked with government, local authorities and others to raise standards.

Together with our 35,000 members including childminders, nannies and nursery workers we are working to become the professional association for everyone in childcare and early years and ensure our members are recognised for the vital role they play in helping children get the best start in life.

[1] New Economics Foundation: A Bit Rich report 2009