I have just finished writing an article for the trade press about the issue of first aid, and this followed a lot of discussion amongst our managers about recruitment challenges. It is no news that recruitment in the early years sector is very difficult at the moment, following the GCSE debacle that the Government managed to engineer, and the pipeline of new recruits is slow. The expansion of some settings caused by the 30 hours funding has increased pressure on supply, and many nurseries are finding it hard to recruit and retain staff.
Many of us are turning to agencies to help us to fill the gap, but it does feel that some of the agencies are not pulling in the same direction. We are committed to achieving Millie’s Mark at all our nurseries, which demonstrates excellence in paediatric first aid. This kite mark requires us to have all of our staff who deal with children qualified in paediatric first aid, and in order for us to be compliant, we have to ensure that this includes agency staff as well.
Before Christmas our Ops Manager contacted all the local agencies whom we used, assuming that they would be aware of this and would be starting to ask all their agency staff to work towards this standard. Unfortunately we were largely met with a negative response and there was no suggestion from any of them that they would be requiring this in the future. Agency staff need a minimum of a 6 hour paediatric first aid certificate to meet the requirements of Millie’s Mark, and this is something that the whole sector is being encouraged to adopt. It is time for the expectations around first aid to be raised, and we would like to see agencies leading the way on this, so that nurseries are able to provide the safest possible environment for all children.