Low pay and limited hours are push and pull factors which create a churn in the Out of School Care Workforce

We recently published the results from our 'Workforce' and, 'Recruitment and Retention' Surveys from 2019; publication was delayed from earlier in the year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

What did we find out? Along with plenty positives there were a number of concerns or issues which continue to weaken the sector by encouraging a 'workforce churn': these issues mostly related to pay, work hours and conditions as opposed to the day-to-day practice of caring for children, which for the most part, staff enjoy.

It was positive to see that overall, 77% of staff saw working in OSC as a career with only 9% saying they didn't. Likewise, 66% said they were very satisfied in their job with only 1% saying they weren't. Those saying they were very satisfied represents a 10% increase on last year.

Furthermore, it was heartening to see that working with children, building positive relationships, seeing children develop and having fun were cited as the best things about working in out of school care, which in turn show the workforce's commitment to deliver the best possible wellbeing outcomes for children.

Although children's behaviour was seen to be the biggest challenge about working in OSC, this was followed by staffing issues, premises issues, lack of professional recognition and limited hours or times of work. And when asked what the workforce would most like to see change, the most common answers related to more or different work hours, the OSC being based in its own premises, greater professional recognition, and better wages. (That said, it should be recognised that the 5th most popular response was that 'nothing' needs to change.)

It has been long reported by the sector that insufficient hours and low wages are amongst the 'push' and 'pull' factors responsible for the ongoing loss of staff from OSC, which has been further exacerbated in recent years by the increased number of Early Learning and Childcare jobs to cover the 1140 hours expansion. The results from our Recruitment and Retention Survey to some extent supported these impressions.

Of the services which had lost staff in 2019, most said that the staff members had moved to different jobs, although some had returned to college/university or left for personal reasons. Of those who had moved to another job, most were either to Early Learning and Childcare positions or a job outwith the childcare sector. Only a small proportion of staff moved to jobs in other OSC services. The most common reasons given for movement of staff were more hours and increased pay.

Of course, not all staff are low paid- as always, we found that OSC staff pay in OSC varies greatly across the country. Whilst we have a talented professional workforce committed to providing the best outcomes for children, at times pay and conditions means that they are forced to leave the sector to find more financially lucrative work. Workforce churn can create instability and ultimately potentially compromises the quality of services which means that children lose out.

Download and read SOSCN's 'Out of School Care Workforce Survey 2019':


Download and read SOSCN's 'Recruitment and Retention 2019 Survey':


last updated: 07/09/2020