Education Policy Institute

New @EduPolicyInst and @NDNAtalk survey finds 71% of #EarlyYears staff were #furloughed between March and August 

A significant proportion of early years settings are relying on the government’s furlough scheme, sparking concerns that the childcare staffing crisis is set to worsen when the scheme ends. 

18% of early years staff are due to remain on furlough between August and October, while the least qualified early years staff have been most affected by the pandemic.

"The Covid-19 pandemic and the early years workforce: Staffing decisions in an uncertain environment" draws upon a survey of 445 early education and care providers in England, Scotland and Wales, active between 4th-26th August.

Early years education providers include private, voluntary, and independent nurseries and pre-schools.

The pandemic and economic downturn have significantly affected early years education, causing disruption to providers since the lockdown began earlier in the year.

Researchers have found that 4% of staff in these settings have been made redundant and 7% of staff voluntarily terminated their contract, with 30% of settings reporting ‘finding alternative employment during furlough’ as the reason for termination. Indeed, settings report employing 9% fewer staff in August than in March.

The least qualified and least experienced staff have borne the brunt of the impacts of total or partial closure of settings: they are more likely to be furloughed, made redundant or to have left for other work.

The findings suggest that early years settings value experience more than qualifications, with 48% reporting that they take qualification levels into account when making furloughing decisions, compared to 68% of settings taking experience into account.

The County Councils Network has today (Friday 25th September) issued a warning that one in ten providers in England’s counties are at risk of closure this winter and that that remoter rural could be impacted the most by childcare closures.

Tulip Siddiq 100x100Tulip Siddiq MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Children and Early Years, said: 

“Parents rely on childcare to be able to do their jobs. Those jobs and our economic recovery will be put at risk if one in ten nurseries and childminders are forced to close over winter, not to mention the impact on children who rely on early education. 

“Labour has been warning about childcare closures for months, yet Ministers have sat on their hands as the early years sector and workforce move ever closer to a cliff edge. 

“It is time for this incompetent Government to start listening and start targeting support at sectors like childcare which need it the most.” 

“This report highlights the appalling toll that the coronavirus crisis has taken on the childcare sector, which is now on the brink of collapse.

“We are already starting to see early years staff being made redundant, and the jobs of thousands more workers - mainly women - are at risk without targeted support for the childcare sector.

“Childminders, nursery staff, and the families who rely on their fantastic services must not be forced to pay the price for this Government’s incompetence.”

Key findings

Early years settings have furloughed 71% of their staff since March

Staff most likely to be furloughed were those who held lower levels of qualifications:

  • 79% of staff with no qualifications had been furloughed
  • 79% of staff with level 2 qualifications had been furloughed
  • 74% of staff with level 3 had been furloughed
  • 59% of staff with level 6 qualifications had been furloughed

4% of early years staff have been made redundant

Staff with higher levels of qualifications were least likely to be made redundant:

  • 6% of apprentices were made redundant
  • 5% of staff with no qualifications were made redundant
  • 2% of staff with level 4/5 qualifications were made redundant
  • 1% of staff with level 6 qualifications were made redundant

Early years settings were more likely to furlough staff if they had higher redundancy rates

  • Settings that had made a greater-than-average proportion of staff redundant since March also expected to furlough a greater proportion (26%) of their staff in the following three months than settings that had made a lower than average proportion of staff redundant (16%).

Commenting on the new findings, Dr Sara Bonetti, Director of Early Years at the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said:

“This report highlights the striking scale of furloughing and redundancies made by early years settings from March to August of this year. In spite of most settings reopening from June, 1 in 5 staff remain on part or full time furlough, suggesting that come the end of the scheme in October, we can expect even more redundancies than we have seen to date.

“Early years settings are facing highly uncertain operating conditions. They are expected to make staffing decisions for the coming months, despite it being difficult to predict demand for their services. This is particularly alarming, given the existing, widely publicised recruitment crisis ongoing in the childcare sector.”

 Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive Officer at the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), said:

“Prior to the pandemic the childcare sector was already facing serious workforce challenges but Covid-19 risks pushing this into a full-blown crisis. This is a time of great uncertainty for early years providers, staff and families. Childcare must be at the centre of any economic recovery as people look to return to work.

"That’s why we’re committed to tracking the impact of the pandemic on early years and the workforce as it unfolds. This is just the first part of a year-long study but already the findings are proving important and I want to thank all the providers who took part in this survey.

“High quality early education is crucial to giving every child the best possible start in life. Having a well-qualified, secure and motivated workforce is central to this quality of care and education. Only by having the latest data can we understand what the sector needs to ensure childcare places are available when families need them.

“The findings so far point to a lot of uncertainty, especially with the end of the furlough scheme in sight. We’ll continue to work with the sector and governments to ensure the challenges are understood and addressed."

KevinCourtney100x100Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:  

"This report by the EPI is further evidence of the deep financial and structural impact the Coronavirus continues to have on the Early Years sector as a whole.  The Coronavirus has only exacerbated the serious challenges the Early Years sector was already facing.  Financial pressures prior to the pandemic had already forced some private providers and Maintained Nursery Schools to close or make significant savings through staff redundancies.  It is now clear that without government intervention, this situation is only going to worsen in the immediate future.   

"Government inaction is jeopardising the education of millions of children, who are missing out on vital early years education and hindering the ability of parents looking to return to work. Access to good quality early years education vastly improves future educational attainment and the life chances of those pupils, and can significantly improve social mobility. The NEU in its submission to the Comprehensive Spending Review is asking for sufficient funding and resources for the Early Years sector to ensure every child has access to good quality early years education." 

peter lampl100x100Sir Peter Lampl, chairman and founder of the Sutton Trust, said:

“It is deeply concerning to see further evidence of the pandemic’s damaging impacts on the early years sector. The Sutton Trust’s own research has highlighted that a third of early years providers in deprived areas believe they may have to close within a year.

“The early years are the vitally important first stage of the education process. We know that a high-quality workforce are an important part of delivering this, so it is worrying that this report suggests a likely worsening of the staffing crisis after the furlough scheme ends.

“It is vital that the sector is supported through these uncertain times, so that we are able to continue to provide the early learning and development that is so crucial for social mobility.”

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

PwC CPD Webinar: Social Mobility

PwC CPD Webinar: Social Mobility

NGWLive: Aldi Graduate Hints & Tips

NGWLive: Aldi Graduate Hints & Tips

Jo Moriani added a new event 55 minutes ago

Protecting your psychological health and wellbeing from...

Overview This webinar will discuss the following: • Why and how amid and in the pandemic recovery phase supporting students to be able to stay on...

  • Wednesday, 04 November 2020 10:00 AM
  • Online

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page