Price vs Value for our children

imgID66083616.jpg.galleryThis week a local newspaper  carried a piece on the pay levels for workers in local authority run childrens centres and nurseries. Councillor, Tom Bewick is quoted as saying “The current workforce is very expensive when compared to the private sector. We need to see a greater equalisation between public sector and private sector workforce. It is vital we have efficient services, every pound we are unnecessarily spending is money we are not spending on the children. The whole reason why the administration decided to keep these nurseries in public hands is the high quality of service they provide and we need to continue with that.” It is always difficult to clarify the full story from a short article, however there has been quite a bit on twitter over the last couple of weeks about the same subject. I have previously written extensively about the subject of the levels of pay for workers in children’s services such as pre-schools, nurseries and children’s centres. If one was to apply the same sort of comment as above to issues that relate to senior management in the public sector vs the private sector or the teaching of children over the age of five or senior echelons of the civil service vs private or voluntary sector agencies, one wonders if Tom would even contemplate opening his mouth. Although I don’t have any knowledge regarding these particular children’s services, I have extensive knowledge of early years provision going back over the last 30 years and I can state without any difficulty, that the more staff members that work in a given setting, the better the potential education that the children will receive. That spending money on the children in the context of education, nearly always means spending it on teaching staff, or the environment or the teaching resources, not on the children themselves. That paying people less money for the same work, is demoralising and ultimately makes it harder to recruit people with the right skills. If there is an inequality between these public sector services and the other preschools and nurseries run by charities and business across the city as Tom suggest, this may be why Tom argues in his statement that this is why the Council have kept these services running. Perhaps the reason for what he describes as the higher quality, is the greater resources being spent on staff in Council nursery settings? Surely if we are to see equilisation, it should be that the Council work with with the charitable sector to help them fund their staff to the same extent as the Council do? That would then ensure that all of the public and charitable provision was running with the same level of resources and it would ensure similar qualities of provision and staff retention. The private sector would be sure to follow this good practice or find their waiting lists shrink? We need a Council that leads by good example, not one committed to a deplorable race to the bottom at the expense of our children and some dedicated but underpaid staff!


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Brighton & Hove, Charities, Education, Journalism, Parliament and Democracy, Youth Issues and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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