Early Years Interview: Sticky Fingers Nursery
TNL Content Writer Anna McCallum interviews Claire Tobin of Sticky Fingers Nursery about the proposed opening up period and the effect of lockdown on her setting.
Did your setting remain open during lockdown?
“I have two pre-schools, one was required to close due to a number of staff members shielding. We kept the smaller one open for key worker children and children under social services or with EHCP’s.”
Have you lost any employees, either through budget-cuts or staff leaving due to personal choice?
“I have had 2 members leave to work in schools as they felt schools were treated better than early years and they can get paid more money for doing less work. I had one who chose early redundancy and one who left due to the additional stress of covid.”
What has been your biggest struggle during the pandemic?
“Keeping staff motivated when all other ‘key workers’ were praised we were often forgotten. And money, overall in early years it is very low, this has been highlighted during the pandemic.”
How do your numbers compare between pre and post lockdown?
“Our numbers are ok, however attendance of children can be poor.”
Do you expect the recent delay to a full national reopening to impact you at all?
“No, we are more concerned about how the full reopening could lead to future lock downs.”
Do you feel the sector received enough support during the past 18 months?
“Within Southampton the council worked hard to be positive and support us, however we were and still not supported or acknowledged enough. If we have an unwell child we have to be there to support them until their parent comes, we had to reduce all our equipment and clean continuously throughout (at an extra cost of cleaning and boxes of gloves going up to £8) while we watched schools send children home or close whole classes, children were all separated to keep the staff safe, but for early years you can not tell a 2 year old they can’t be hugged and that they have to keep their distance.”
Are registration numbers back to normal or are parents now more reluctant to send their children to a nursery?
“We have enrolled for September and our numbers are looking ok, our issue will be that our 2 year olds starting have very little life experience, and have never been left with anyone so we will need to give additional support to families.”
What do wish more people knew about the Early Years sector?
“That our staff work as hard as other public sector workers, but we are not paid in the same way. All parents believe we are paid the same as a school and don’t have ratio’s to follow, finish at the end of a school day etc, but that is not the case and our staff work harder and for a lot less.“