Yes, you can scroll through job adverts for posts being advertised within the early years sector to find out more about the likely wage being paid for a specific role, but what does that give you?

How reliable is the information?

There may be many other factors that come into play when considering salaries being paid in this sector.

What considerations do employers need to make when considering the salary paid for a particular post?

If you are an employer, how can you gauge how your salaries compare with others in the local area?

If you are an employee of a nursery or preschool business, how do you know if you are being paid a reasonable rate compared with others in local settings?

I can help answer some of these questions through work carried out with the network that I run.

Members of the Hampshire Early Years Network (HEN for short) which has been operating for over five years now, have sought my help to ascertain more information on the current pay scales and factors that need to be considered for staff working within different roles in the sector in this part of England. As before, they have allowed me to share the findings of my survey.

The network has over the years had many interesting discussions including on pay. We have often had guest speakers, bite-sized training events and support sessions and the group of business owners and managers have learnt a lot from each other.

A small group of enthusiastic and committed people, sharing ideas and information, and seeking solutions to problems together in a safe and confidential environment.

This has been so invaluable over recent times.

See here if you want to know more about the network itself.

What is readily available on EY pay scales

As mentioned, you can look at current job adverts for an idea of salaries.

If you are a member of a national organisation you may have access to surveys that the organisation has carried out, but often geographical variations are not that clear.

The National Day Nursery Association published Workforce Surveys and Reports in 2019 which includes some highlights, but two years on things have changed.

The Social Mobility Commission (an independent advisory non-departmental public body) published a report on the stability of the EY workforce in August 2020. Highlights around pay and conditions were also included.

And the press release makes for an interesting read. For information, the research, based on analysis and qualitative data, was carried out by the Education Policy Institute (EPI).

Current issues for the sector which are having an impact on pay

Covid-19 has inevitably had an impact on the sector.

It will be worth looking out for part four of the latest year-long survey from July 2020 – June 2021, being carried out by the NDNA, again in conjunction with EPI, considering the wider issues within the sector.

You can see the previous three survey results here.

As always in this sector there is a lot to consider when deciding on salaries to pay, as well as many pressures, not least from government underfunding. See the recent overview from the Early Years Alliance highlighting key findings from their Freedom of Information Request (FOI).

And their report entitled ‘The Forgotten Sector’ published in June 2020:  highlighting the impact of key Early Years policy failings by government during coronavirus.

Findings from the local Hampshire Pay survey carried out in April 2021 at the start of the new financial year

The data was provided by ten members across Hampshire and within the unitary authority of Southampton running a total of twenty-five settings between them.

The makeup of provision was five preschools and twenty nurseries (a few of which also have preschools as part of their provision). Two are small rural settings, some are small groups of settings.

Key points and issues that came out of the survey for consideration in agreeing on wages to be paid to staff at different levels and within different roles:

  • National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage (NMW) has had an impact on the level of pay (since introduction) with more limited ability to differentiate.
  • A few settings pay 75p/hour extra (above rates stated in table below) for L5 qualified staff working as Nursery Nurses, Room or Team Leaders/Seniors or Nursery Deputy Managers.
  • A few settings pay £1/hour extra (above rates stated in table below) for L6 qualified staff working as Nursery Nurses, Room or Team Leaders/Seniors or Nursery Deputy Managers.
  • Roles, responsibilities, and size of settings means pay rates for the role of manager as well as Team Leaders/Seniors is very variable within data sets.
  • Some Team Leaders/Seniors have bigger responsibilities than others and are required to deputise in the absence of the senior management team.
  • A small percentage of members employ a Preschool Manager and Level 2 and Level 3 Preschool Workers – data set is therefore small for these roles.
  • One provider pays for private health care cover for the Nursery Manager.
  • Many Managers work 40 hours per week on average. Some work more than 40 hours. One provider’s Deputy Manager and Seniors work 37 hours per week.
  • Two providers increase their payment to Apprentices from £4.30 per hour to the NMW after one year of service.
  • One provider applies loyalty holiday leave: after five years they are entitled to an extra days’ leave and an additional day for every successive year of service up to a maximum of five extra days in total.
  • Lunch-time cover staff are paid as nursery nurses but only if they are qualified as such – data set is small for this post.

Table showing the minimum and maximum wage paid for each role (within the data sets provided) plus a calculation showing the average minimum and the average maximum for each role listed, but see caveats in notes boxes.

Minimum Maximum Average Minimum Average Maximum Note
L3 Nursery Nurse £6.56 £10.75 £8.62 £9.43 NMW paid by some
L2 Nursery Assistant £6.56 £9.20 £7.71 £8.23 NMW paid by some
L3 PS Worker £8.91 £8.92 £8.91 £8.92 NB limited data available
L2 PS Worker £8.91 £8.91 £8.91 £8.91 NB limited data available
Unqualified Nursery/PS Assistant £6.56 £9.00 £8.02 £8.78 NMW paid by most
Apprentice £4.30 £8.91 £4.75 £5.60 Minimum rate paid to many
Nursery Manager £12.38 £18.20 £15.28 £16.38 See note below
PS Manager £10.25 £17.66 £13.30 £13.30 NB limited data
Nursery Deputy Manager £9.24 £13.77 £11.32 £11.73
PS Deputy Manager £9.49 £10.00 £9.75 £9.75 NB limited data available
Room Leaders/Seniors £8.90 £12.47 £9.86 £10.38 Roles & responsibilities variable between settings
Cook £8.72 £10.50 £9.45 £9.58
Lunch-time Cover £6.56 £9.00 £8.16 £8.94 NB limited data available

You can also download a PDF with points and issues noted above included.

A special thanks goes to all those members of HEN that participated in the survey and allowed me to publish the findings!

Download HEN Pay Scale Survey