This Thursday (17 October) is National Nursery Practitioner Day - a fun-filled celebration to thank childcare providers for their hard work and dedication.
National Nursery Practitioner Day was launched by nursery chain Little Pioneers - the new name for Co-op Childcare - in 2018 and the company is urging all childcare providers to join in with this special annual celebration.
A career in Early Years is rewarding, packed with creativity and makes a huge difference to children's lives...but like all careers it comes with challenges and can be tough at times.
National Nursery Practitioner Day aims to make nurseries workers feel special and appreciated and was inspired after research found a quarter of nursery workers were considering leaving their post.
This year, Little Pioneers will be setting up appreciation walls for parents and children to share positive feedback about the work practitioners do and hosting ‘thank you’ parties for staff across all 44 of its nurseries, as well as launching a competition to win a range of prizes.
Sally Bonnar, Little Pioneers chief operating officer, told daynurseries.co.uk: “National Nursery Practitioner Day is a chance for the whole industry to come together to say thank you and make all nursery practitioners feel valued for their work.
"It is so important for us to recognise the inspiring work that they do to shape the minds of the future every single day.
"The launch of National Nursery Practitioner Day received the backing of The National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), as well as a number of providers.
"Working in the Early Years sector can be incredibly tough.
"It’s important to us that the incredible work our staff do for children and families across the UK is recognised that all staff feel valued, regardless of the role they play in the nursery.
"Nursery Practitioner Day is a fantastic and fun way to say thank you and last year was a great success for us."
Early Years practitioners' dedication and commitment is essential to ensuring that children receive the very best start to their formal education - fundamental to their future life successes.
As well as recognising this valuable contribution, National Nursery Practitioner Day also raises awareness of careers in childcare, currently suffering from a recruitment and retention crisis.
The NDNA Workforce Survey for England 2019 found that stacking shelves is more appealing than educating children.
More attractive retail jobs with improving pay and fewer responsibilities are luring qualified nursery practitioners away from working with young children.
More nurseries admitted they were finding it harder to recruit qualified staff than previously as salaries, better hours and a loss of passion were given as the main drivers for practitioners leaving the sector.
Nearly half of leavers (48%) headed for new jobs in retail.
The number of nursery workers qualified to Level 3 has plummeted to crisis levels in the last four years, from 83% of the early years workforce to just over half now (52%).
The research also revealed above-average staff turnover for the sector with experienced staff being replaced by younger, inexperienced, less qualified employees.