How will Early Years providers and children in the UK be affected by Brexit?
On 23rd June 2016 the country was divided with 52% of voters winning the decision for the United Kingdom to leave the EU. Brexit has made history but how will this decision impact on the Early Years sector and most importantly, the children?
Equality and Diversity
Over the past thirty years Equality and Diversity has played a huge part in Early Years settings. The EYFS states that Early Years providers must be promoting diversity in their settings, teaching children about the importance of respecting one another and other religions, backgrounds, cultures and life choices. The British Values embeds this into practice and supports practitioners in providing equal opportunities for all.
Racism has hit the headlines since Brexit, with more and more racial abuse happening across the country. Most of this abuse has happened in broad day light with individuals openly shouting racial abuse and ‘No More Polish Vermin’ flyers distributed outside primary schools. This will of course have an effect on young, impressionable children in the UK. Britain has worked hard to bring up a tolerable and respectful generation that appreciates the wider community and celebrates their differences; however this racial outburst may undo years of equality and diversity.
Early Years Workforce
One of the biggest factors of leaving the EU for many, has been the issue of immigration and the end to free movement for those wanting to enter the country. This may have a devastating impact on the recruitment of bilingual staff for Early Years providers. It is unknown exactly how many of those working in the Early Years sector are EU migrants; however research has suggested that it could be as much as 6%.
The Early Years workforce is already a struggling profession, especially recently due to the changes around the GCSE requirement. This could lead to a further lack of staff generally, without thinking about the bilingual aspect. Children and parents who have English as an Additional Language rely heavily on bilingual staff to support communication and translate between home and the setting. This valuable resource is bound to be affected in the light of Brexit.
Financial strain on the sector
With the economy unstable since Brexit, there are suggestions that we could be heading for another recession. This in turn will have a knock on affect with parents potentially finding themselves unemployed and no longer in need of childcare. Early Years providers were hit hard during the last recession with childcare fees at the bottom of many parents financial priorities.
A drop in public spending may also impact heavily on the funding that Early Years providers receive, many of which are already struggling financially as it is. With the added financial burden of the fast approaching 30 hours funding increase due to begin next year, a number of Early Years providers will be struggling to stay afloat.
There is a great deal of uncertainty around the decision to leave the EU and the Early Years sector will be waiting to see what the future holds for childcare out of the EU.