Workforce and QualificationsNursery practitioner

The nursery sector is currently facing a recruitment crisis. View workforce and qualification policy updates and guidance below.


The nursery sector has been facing a recruitment crisis caused, in part, by the Government’s stringent rules on GCSE qualifications required for entry to level three early years educator courses, the ‘industry standard’ to which 75% of childcare professionals are qualified.

The need to have GCSE English and Maths at grade C or above has meant many otherwise suitable candidates could not gain entry to courses and new recruits have been much harder to find. 

Following lobbying from NDNA and the sector, the Government agreed in March 2017 to allow functional equivalents – practical tests showing a good working knowledge of English and maths – to be accepted as an alternative alongside GCSEs.

Other issues are that chronic underfunding from the Government limits the salaries that nurseries are able to pay and levels of training and development. This is leading to talented and hardworking staff members leaving the sector to earn more money and gain better career progression elsewhere.

Also following lobbying from NDNA and the sector, a Workforce Strategy was announced by the Childcare Minister Caroline Dinenage and NDNA looks forward to working with the Department for Education on this. 


First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced £1.5 million investment for more nursery teachers and graduates in deprived areas of Scotland - read more here