Nurseries struggle to recruit staff

A CLIFTON nursery boss has spoken out over the struggle to recruit staff.

Samantha Packer, director of the Daisychain Nursery, told a meeting of Bristol Schools Forum in July that the early years sector was facing tough times.

Demand for places for pre-schoolers is high but increased government funding for “free” provision does not cover the costs. This is likely to worsen with the planned expansion of childcare entitlement.

Speaking about the impact of the proposed changes and the current issues, Ms Packer said: “A situation that many of us face at the moment is — and I’m going to use myself as an example — we’re 60 per cent full with a waiting list of children, who we can’t take because of staffing. We have just taken some measures to improve that, we’ve taken the route of sponsorship licences. I think it could help many of us with our recruitment.”

Companies struggling to hire staff can sponsor visas for new recruits coming from abroad. 

Simon Holmes, headteacher of St Philip’s Marsh Nursery School, told the meeting: “We’re already having parents coming in and registering for what they’re expecting the new entitlement to be next year, from what was promised by the government. We don’t really have any information to give to people on that. It’s all a bit unclear.

“There’s obviously a big issue around sufficiency going forwards, if the offer is extended to the degree that it’s been promised. While the uplift in funding is very welcome, it’s made a big difference this year when things are very tight, most nurseries are struggling to balance the books and not have an in-year deficit.

“When everything is very financially tight and you’re looking at reducing to save money, at the same time the challenge is to also expand to meet the needs, and that’s a real tension. There needs to be a wider system change, because you can’t reduce and expand at the same time.”

By Alex Seabrook, Local  Democracy Reporting Service