Out of school care - draft framework: consultation analysis
This is the summary report of the 2019 consultation on the draft framework for Out of School Care in Scotland. It will inform the final Framework and provide evidence for future development of School Age Childcare policy.
Supporting the Out of School Care Workforce
Four questions were asked in order to understand how best to support the out of school care workforce to deliver high quality services. These included:
- Q15. What qualifications, skills and experiences should the out of school care workforce have? What is most important and why?
- Q16. Thinking about the full range of provision - regulated out of school care, childminders, holiday programmes and other activities - should qualification requirements for staff working across these provisions be the same or different? Why?
- Q17. How can we promote working in the out of school care sector as a more attractive career choice?
- Q18. How can we increase diversity in the out of school care workforce?
Workforce Qualifications, Skills and Experience
Q15. What qualifications, skills and experiences should the out of school care workforce have? What is most important and why?
Overall, 1,072 (84%) respondents provided feedback in relation to the qualifications, skills and experience which were felt to be important for the out of school care workforce.
Many felt it was important to provide a range of qualifications, skills and experience both within and between out of school care services:
"A variety of skills, experiences and qualifications should be encouraged in the team." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
There was a slight preference at the aggregate level for out of school care staff to have, or be working towards relevant formal qualifications, with around half of all those who answered the question supporting or suggesting qualifications for all staff. However, there was also a notable a split in opinion with many (with around a third of those who provided a response) suggesting that a person's experience and personal skills and attributes were more important. Parents/carers and other individuals were more evenly split in this regard, while all other groups were mostly in favour of the need for qualifications.
Some felt that those looking after children should be formally qualified in order to provide high quality services and to raise the status and recognition of the work/sector. Others, however, felt that qualifications were less important than other attributes, with a few highlighting experiences of fully qualified childcare professionals not being well suited to working with children while others without formal qualifications had been considered to provide better care.
A wide range of possible qualifications, certifications and training requirements were cited fairly consistently across all respondent groups.
In relation to formal qualifications and training, many felt that out of school care workers should have obtained or be working towards a relevant childcare qualification, or qualifications in child development/behaviour. Leadership qualifications were also considered important by some. The level of the qualifications varied, however, with some suggesting an appropriate SVQ or an HNC/HND should be required. Degree level qualifications for managers were important for some, and considered too high/unnecessary by others (only a few parents/carers suggested this should be required). Youth work, education, teaching, social work/care, or community education/care based qualifications were also mentioned (typically by parents/carers). Some also felt it was important that practitioners were registered with the SSSC:
"Childcare qualifications and experience, I want them to be experts in their field and know what they're doing." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"Having trained qualified or staff working towards qualifications maintains standards and provides a better quality of service and experience." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"I feel that especially now, this workforce require to have the correct qualifications for their job role and also to register with the SSSC. This not only enhances the quality of care for the children but ensures that this workforce are regarded as professionals." (Individual, OSC Provider)
Other important qualifications, certifications and training focused on:
- health and safety - such as First Aid, Personal Hygiene, and Food Hygiene;
- security checks and child safety - full Disclosure Certification or PVG scheme membership were considered essential, while others included Safeguarding, and Child Protection; and
- Play Work (or youth work) - including outdoor learning/education, forest and beach school training, youth and sports related qualifications, and imaginary play. Several OSC providers suggested that play work (and other courses of relevance) should be recognised by the SSSC.
Other aspects that were considered important by a few respondents each included an understanding of attachment; knowledge of child psychology; learning support training; disability awareness training (including specifically for dyslexia, autism, ADHD, and learning disabilities); knowledge of mental health and how to tackle bullying; understanding of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs); understanding of trauma informed practice; equalities training, training in allergies and diabetes; and knowledge of UNCRC.
Continuing professional development (CPD) was also seen to be necessary by several OSC providers.
Several parents/carers and other individuals suggested that all out of school care staff should be qualified and trained to similar levels as required for nursery staff/those providing early years care, those who work in schools (such as Pupil Support Assistants), or registered childminders. A few local authorities were also keen to ensure that out of school care staff were trained and qualified to the same standards as ELC practitioners so that staff can move between the roles more easily. A few, however, (including parents/carers and other individuals) felt the qualifications should be similar to youth workers as this better reflected the work undertaken.
Issues with Requiring Qualifications
A few parents/carers, other individuals, third sector/charity organisations, and several OSC providers stressed that the sector was not typically well paid and that wages should rise to recognise the need for professional qualifications, and that this could impact costs. Again, a few respondents suggested the system should follow the Nordic countries where they stated all educational staff (including nursery, primary and secondary school and out of school care) were paid the same:
"…if staff are expected to be qualified to provide their service then their pay should be reflected in this." (Individual, Not Specified)
"Graduate leaders have raised quality and reflective practice, however pay scales need to be equivalent to the state sector and this requires funding or the burden is in fees." (Organisation, OSC Provider)
While some OSC providers felt that the current qualifications and training framework was appropriate and necessary, others (including OSC providers and a few local authorities) suggested that imposing strict qualification requirements had (and could continue to) result in some negative consequences, including:
- good staff being dissuaded from entering or remaining in the profession and/or leading to staff shortages (particularly for smaller/rural services);
- staff retention issues with staff leaving the profession and moving to better paid and more 'respected' careers upon qualifying;
- missing out on suitable candidates whose qualifications are not recognised in the sector or who are less academic/able to commit to studying;
- discrepancies in funding for the differing SVQ levels and by age; and
- the retrospective nature of the SSSC change in qualification requirements being seen as unfair and resulting in a loss of experience:
"If you empower people with a degree then they feel like "Why are we here with poor pay and hours?" (Event, OSC Provider)
"The workforce are losing great staff members due to lack of funding and registration requirements even if they have worked in childcare for many years and are key members of staff." (Individual, OSC Provider)
Several OSC providers felt that a more tailored qualification for out of school care was required. One OSC provider suggested that courses could provide greater flexibility, allowing all education based qualifications to maintain core units and to offer a range of optional units tailored to the different sectors - they suggested the Scandinavian Social Pedagogy model as a basis. A few also suggested that more vocational based qualifications were necessary, with on the job training counting towards the final qualification, and that the SSSC registration should recognise a wider range of degrees and/or qualifications to assist with recruitment.
The range of skills and experience respondents felt was important was largely consistent across the various respondent groups. This included the need for:
- experience with either a range of age groups or with the target age group;
- the ability to engage with children and young people and being skilled at building relationships with children and their families;
- being able to boost children's confidence;
- experience of the curriculum and/or an understanding of GIRFEC;
- being able to utilise different forms of play and/or having knowledge of different games;
- experience of delivering specific activities (where appropriate) such as sports, outdoor activities, drama, dance, music, arts and crafts, languages, STEM, other subjects for help with homework or study groups for older children; and
- having specific skills, e.g. knitting, woodwork, baking/cookery, chess, and gardening.
Having a range of life skills and experience was also important to both parents/carers and many OSC providers as well as a few respondents across the other respondent groups.
Personal qualities were also seen as being important, with many respondents across the respondent groups (including young people who participated in events) listing vital and desirable qualities that staff should possess. This included kindness, role-modelling, stability, consistency, reliability, approachability, being caring, nurturing, supportive, compassionate, enthusiastic, having a genuine interest in and desire to work with children as well as having a good rapport with children, good communication and interpersonal skills, patience, understanding, being non-judgemental, fun, fair, having common sense, being energetic, honest/trustworthy, having humour, being empathetic, creative, flexible, encouraging and creative.
Indeed, some respondents (including several who supported the need for qualifications) indicated that a person's experience and personal qualities were often more important than the qualifications that they had:
"It is attitude and character that children thrive on not certificates. The more diverse the workforce the better." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"Demanding qualifications excludes too many people that are great with kids and validates others that are not." (Individual, Not Specified)
A few suggested that, as long as managers had relevant qualifications, then the skills, experience and qualities of other staff were more important than professional qualifications. Similarly, parents/carers and OSC providers suggested that a core group of supervisory level staff should be qualified, but others could have lesser qualifications, or work whilst in training/train on the job. This was seen as a way to allow the retention of valued staff members who were reluctant to commit to pursuing professional qualifications for whatever reason. Several also suggested that volunteers could be useful (either parents/carers, or high school pupils and students looking for experience, etc.), although others were against the use of teenagers:
"College qualification for at least one senior member of staff. I would be happy for the rest to do on the job training as long as gone through all the safety checks." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"3/4 staff should have a Play worker qualification but the quarter remaining shouldn't need to have qualifications. Staff range from 16 to 78 and especially the staff members that are still scared of computers and don't use them, they have enough life experience to be able to love and support children." (Organisation, OSC Provider)
Several respondents highlighted that training and/or experience of supporting children and young people with additional support needs was important. Specific requirements that were mentioned included staff being trained, skilled or qualified to administer medication, deal with toileting issues and dietary requirements, awareness of sensory issues and sensitivities, and being skilled/experienced in both appropriate activities and de-escalation. Being trained in Makaton and British Sign Language were also mentioned by a few parents/carers and other individuals, while young carer awareness training was also suggested by a third sector/charity organisation.
Those leading sports and other activity clubs were expected to have relevant training in the specific activity.
Qualification Requirements by Type of Provision
Q16. Thinking about the full range of provision - regulated out of school care, childminders, holiday programmes and other activities - should qualification requirements for staff working across these be the same or different? Why?
Overall, 987 (78%) respondents discussed whether qualification requirements for staff should be the same or different across the range of out of school care provision. For parents/carers, other individuals, early years providers, education providers, and local authorities there was a relatively even split between those who felt that the same qualification requirements should apply across the full range of provision and those who felt that differences should be accepted. Among third sector/charities, more respondents felt qualifications should be different, while the opposite was the case for OSC providers, where more indicated that qualification requirements should be the same across the sector.
Reasons for Supporting the Same Qualifications
Many respondents (across all respondent groups) who considered that it was most appropriate for there to be the same qualification requirements felt this was necessary because staff faced the same risks, issues, and needed to provide the same level of support to children. It was also felt that standardised training would allow for staff to transfer between the different settings with greater ease. This latter point was important for local authorities, with a few suggesting that OSC could be aligned more with ELC to allow both workforces to combine more and work across both sectors. Further, it was felt this would provide a consistent standard and higher quality of care across all the settings. A few OSC providers also felt this would help to professionalise the sector:
"They should all provide the same level of care so why shouldn't they all be qualified to the same standards. There needs to be consistency." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"Should be the same, then all children are getting the high standard of the play workers knowledge, support, nurturing, caring etc." (Organisation, OSC Provider)
A few parents/carers, who were generally in favour of standardised qualifications were, however, concerned about this impacting negatively on costs and supply:
"Ideally but I can't afford holiday cover as it is, but if staff costs are higher, I can't see me managing at all." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"Ideally yes, however, this would perhaps reduce childminders/ nannies available which would make position worse for working parents." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
Many (across all respondent groups) also suggested there should be the same minimum qualifications needed, and/or basic safety requirements (such as first aid, disclosure/PVG certification, child protection and safeguarding training), but that different additional training specific to the setting would also be appropriate:
"Should have the same basic minimum requirement then more specialised requirements based on the setting." (Individual, Not Specified)
Reasons for Supporting Differences
Many others (across all respondent groups) felt that, while staff should have appropriate qualifications, these should be varied in order to best suit the setting and activities being offered, the age/nature of children under their care, and the nature/level of the job. It was also considered important to support volunteers within the sector, for example, for small community groups and volunteers like those leading brownies and guides it was felt inappropriate to require them to gain formal qualifications in childcare:
"Depending on age/range of activities different qualifications would be required." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"The differences are what makes each setting unique and the choice should be with the families to make. By providing a universal qualification approach, the provision risks losing its individuality thus stripping parents of choice." (Individual, OSC Provider)
The low wages and part-time hours typically experienced by staff working across the sector was also mentioned by a few respondents, with them generally feeling that it was unrealistic to expect all workers to be well qualified as a result.
Activity and Holiday Clubs
There were mixed views over the staff qualification requirements for both activity and holiday clubs. This was noted across all respondent groups but was a particular feature of OSC providers' responses.
Many respondents (largely, although not exclusively, parents/carers, and other individuals) felt that activity and holiday clubs would require different qualifications to regulated care settings. In particular, it was highlighted that they may require sport coaching qualifications, or people who are experienced in the activity which would be less relevant to after-school care and childminders:
"Some variation is needed - someone providing a creative writing club does not need a qualification in childcare for example." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
Several felt they should require less in the way of formal qualifications as after-school clubs or childminders as they were considered to be less formal, were often provided over relatively short time periods, and holiday clubs were provided less frequently. Rather, it was considered more important that staff were qualified/trained/skilled/experienced in the specific activity being offered.
Others, however, felt that the same minimum childcare qualifications should apply across all sectors, and that any activity specific qualification/training should be additional. In particular, holiday clubs were cited as often having children in their care for longer periods per day than after-school clubs. A few respondents, however, suggested that requiring activity holiday clubs to hold the same formal qualifications as regulated care providers could be detrimental to the provision of such services as they are often run/lead by volunteers.
Some OSC providers were generally critical of the unregulated elements of the sector, including activity and holiday clubs. However, others felt there was a need to move away from viewing them as typically poor quality and identified programmes that were considered to provide excellent services.
Several parents/carers and other individuals felt that all childminders should have qualifications as they are typically working on their own with no supervision. It was also considered that they provide greater levels of 'care' or more personal care to children than activity and holiday clubs.
Some suggested that the current requirements for childminders were appropriate while others felt they should have a formal qualification, with several suggesting that they should have a first aid certificate, food hygiene certificate, be disclosure/PVG checked and have a childcare qualification as a minimum:
"A childminder is a single person in charge of multiple kids on their own so arguably needs more qualification than someone working under some supervision as part of a team in an after-school club I think." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
Several parents/carers and other individuals, as well as a few OSC providers however, felt that childminders may need different or less qualifications as they considered them to be working in a different environment, providing a different kind of care, often to fewer children. It was also suggested that childminders may have capacity issues or be less financially able to undertake lengthy qualifications and there were concerns that requirements for such qualifications may put people off becoming a childminder and thus reduce availability - although it should be noted this was also a more general concern in relation to the sector as a whole:
"When it becomes too over regulated this causes people to turn away from the profession. Keep it simple." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
Need for Regulation
While considered separate to qualification requirements, some respondents suggested that all services should be regulated. This was mentioned by a few parents/carers, other individuals and some OSC providers. They felt this was necessary to provide a level playing field and ensure an equally high level/quality of care regardless of the setting. Several OSC providers discussed the 'risks' of the provision of unregulated care (including staff with no appropriate qualifications, no requirement to adhere to specific staff/children ratios, not having the appropriate insurances, etc.) and felt that parents/carers did not always know the difference between regulated and unregulated services. Several respondents also suggested that greater transparency for parents/carers was required regarding qualifications and regulation requirements:
"Don't think parents understand the risk or genuine care of the child. Parents don't know the difference, they just see it as cheaper." (Event, OSC Providers)
"I don't have enough of an understanding of the roles and responsibilities so I would like to see more transparency about roles, qualifications, regulation, etc." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
One alternative system proposed by a few respondents (including one local authority, one third sector/charity organisation, and two OSC providers) involved the provision of a core skills certificate for practitioners, while managers would still require a relevant degree. For unregistered/unregulated services it was suggested that local authorities (if provided with funding) could operate a licensing scheme linked to requirements, including the core skills certificate.
Another suggestion (from one OSC provider) was that regulated and unregulated providers could partner to deliver services, particularly for holiday provision. It was noted that it can be challenging/unviable for some regulated providers to provide holiday clubs due to competition from cheaper (unregulated) options, and so partnering may provide a 'win-win' solution.
Some respondents repeated the issues raised at Q15 above, including suggestions that experiences and skills/personal qualities were more important than requiring formal qualifications; that the manager should be qualified but that this was less important for other staff; and that unqualified volunteers could work alongside a core group of qualified staff. These issues were reiterated by a range of respondent groups.
As well as impacting upon the retention of current staff and acting as a barrier to recruitment/supply of staff/services, another unintended consequence of requiring all out of school care staff to obtain specific formal qualifications could be a negative impact on certain third sector/charity organisations. It was noted by one third sector/charity organisation that, where organisations work with school age children, as well as other age groups, they could conceivably be expected to ensure all staff meet the qualification requirements, however, they considered this unaffordable. Rather, they suggested that key training elements could be provided as online modules for staff to undertake, as a minimum requirement.
Promoting the Sector as an Attractive Career Choice
Q17. How can we promote working in the out of school sector as a more attractive career choice?
In total, 995 (78%) respondents provided feedback about how to promote the out of school care sector as a more attractive career choice. Responses typically focussed on either practical changes that could be made to attract people into the profession or on how careers in the sector could be better promoted. Responses given were similar across the various respondent groups.
Salary and Conditions
The main issue highlighted by all respondent groups was related to wages, and a general sense that the sector was poorly paid at present. Some respondents suggested that salaries should reflect at least the living wage, while others suggested that the pay needed to be high enough for this to be considered as a sustainable career, and others suggested that out of school care workers should be paid in line with early years practitioners:
"Better pay. It is crazy that childcare workers are paid so little for having so much responsibility and requiring qualifications." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"A proper salary is key to this, as in some provisions the cleaner is paid more than the play worker, this will not attract people to come into and remain in the sector and does not reflect the value of work done." (Organisation, Third Sector/Charity)
Several respondents felt that the fees charged to parents/carers were already high and so government funding or subsidies for services were required in order to facilitate wage rises in the sector without significantly increasing the cost to families:
"These jobs have to be better paid… But we also have extremely high childcare costs in the UK, and so these wages need to be subsidised so that parents are able to afford childcare." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
Similarly, it was suggested there was a need for improvements in conditions or other benefits, including:
- providing greater job security;
- issues in relation to the hours available (including providing contracted hours and/or increased hours by extending services or combining roles/service offerings);
- providing flexibility (including flexible working/hours);
- providing improved terms and conditions to include the provision of permanent (or at least not zero hour) contracts, holiday and sick pay, and pensions;
- providing high quality facilities;
- having plenty of staff available; and
- providing supportive management.
The hours typically offered for this type of employment were seen as a significant barrier to recruiting staff. The part-time nature of the work with hours available only outwith school hours was considered as off-putting and/or unsuitable for many. It was also suggested that, as a result, out of school care was often a second job for many rather than being their main or sole career. Paying higher wages was seen as one way to overcome this challenge, with many also suggesting that workers could be provided with free or discounted spaces within the service for their own children.
A few also suggested that salaries and the hours worked should map favourably onto state benefits to ensure that this does not create a barrier to employment.
Requiring, supporting and/or funding staff to gain qualifications and/or providing access to high quality training while working was considered important. It was also considered important to advertise to staff that they can access training and would be supported to gain qualifications. Some suggested that it would act as an incentive if staff could increase their salary following the completion of certain training or gaining qualifications. Several also suggested that apprenticeships could be provided as a route into the sector.
Others, however, again suggested that the need for qualifications should be lessened, with transferrable skills and experience recognised and valued.
Offering clear career progression opportunities was also seen as important to some. This included both progression within the sector but also facilitating access to other sectors such as ELC, classroom assistant positions, teaching, social work, and nursing. It was also suggested that providing a blended model where staff had the opportunity to combine roles would allow staff to increase their hours and potentially undertake full-time work. Combinations that were suggested by respondents included working in out of school care and as a classroom assistant, school play worker, school administrator roles, or another role in the school, or combining this with ELC, youth services, or active schools. A few respondents (generally parents/carers and other individuals) suggested this could go a step further and have out of school carefully incorporated within nurseries/schools so the team could be utilised more flexibly and provide a more holistic approach:
"Opportunities for progression are key to allow the sector to be seen as a career pathway where there is scope to progress on to other areas of work and continue to develop and use the skills the staff have." (Organisation, OSC Provider)
Many respondents (across all respondent groups) considered it important that the sector was valued and suggested that, at present, it was undervalued. This needed to include improving perceptions of childcare careers overall in society, within local authorities and education establishments, so that staff feel valued:
"Bring awareness to parents/carers/other professionals/community that practitioners have a valuable role in supporting the learning, development and wellbeing of our children and young people." (Individual, Early Years Practitioner)
"Raising the profile of after-school care to other professionals as well as to the public. We are rarely included in new polices…" (Organisation, OSC Provider)
It was considered important that this was seen as more than just 'babysitting'. It was felt that promoting, marketing and advertising the profession would be helpful, focussing on the professional and qualified nature of the sector, the difference that staff make in children's lives, and the support they provide to children and families:
"Show how important they are in the lives and development of the children in their care. Show them their value." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"Advertising what out of school care actually does instead of everyone assuming they are babysitters, etc. Showing the development of children and opportunities we provide." (Organisation, OSC Provider)
Others suggested that the out of school care sector could be promoted within schools to encourage young people to consider this as a career, develop better links with colleges to attract those studying for a childcare qualification and/or to provide work placements, promote to those with no/older children and older/retired people looking for flexibility, and/or to those looking for a more varied work profile by combining this with other part-time options.
Others suggested promoting the 'perks' of the work, which included that the work is fun, local, part-time/flexible hours, term-time work, offers Christmas and weekends off, and allows people to gain qualifications whilst working:
"Promote the fun element of OSC i.e. sports, outdoor activities etc. Also promoting the fact qualifications can be achieved whilst working in an OSC setting is important." (Organisation, OSC Provider)
In terms of practicalities, it was suggested that social media was a good way to run promotional campaigns. Several suggested that advertising campaigns should be similar to those previously utilised for teaching and early years. Others suggested that providers could/should be invited to careers fairs/talks and that open days for services could provide good opportunities for promotion and recruitment.
Increasing Diversity of the Workforce
Q18. How can we increase diversity across the out of school care workforce?
A total of 731 (58%) respondents provided a response in relation to how to increase diversity across the out of school care workforce, however, 83 (11%) of these stated that they were unsure or did not know. As such, 648 (51%) respondents provided more substantive comments and/or suggestions on how to increase diversity. Again, the range of comments provided were largely consistent across the different respondent groups and focused on the barriers created by the current terms and conditions, widening the distribution/visibility of job adverts, and creating a promotional campaign to raise the profile of the sector and endorse diversity.
Specific groups that were mentioned as important to encourage into the workforce included men (this was a key target demographic mentioned by many respondents), a more diverse ethnic mix, a range of age groups and socio-economic backgrounds, those with disabilities, LGBT, a range of religions/beliefs, and those from care experienced backgrounds. It was also suggested that a range of different roles could be utilised within the sector, including volunteers, students, older and retired people, sports staff, and parents/carers returning to work following a career break.
Again, improving pay and conditions, raising the profile/value of the profession, providing accessible and supported training and/or qualifications, and developing a career path and/or opportunities for progression was seen as a way to encourage diversity in the sector generally, and to help make the role more appealing to men in particular. It was also suggested that more could be done to recognise overseas qualifications to assist black and minority ethnic (BME) individuals into the out of school care sector, and that the provision of free/subsidised spaces for staff's children would help immigrant/ethnic minority women into the workforce, along with others. Providing mentoring and taster sessions was also suggested, as was promoting the role-model element of the work to those currently under-represented in the staff profile:
"…make it a career choice with a decent and attractive salary where there is plenty of scope for progression." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"Improve wages, especially in the private sector, and increase working hours as low wages and hours/split shifts is what puts a lot of people off working in this industry." (Individual, OSC Provider)
Several highlighted that societal stereotypes also needed to be tackled:
"Male out of hours workers are very rare as it can be seen as weird by our society, so breaking that barrier would help diversity." (Individual, Not Specified)
Again, several suggested that less emphasis was needed on qualifications and that skills and experience should also be valued, or that wider qualifications should be recognised to consider transferable skills and experience. It was felt that the need for formal qualifications could limit the diversity of the workforce:
"No qualifications necessary. Life skills and experience of/interest in working with children only pre-requisites." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"Loose the compulsory SVQ and use the many people who have gained a life degree by living and gaining knowledge through experiences." (Individual, OSC Provider)
Likewise, it was again suggested that the sector should be promoted in schools and colleges. In addition, it was suggested that community groups should be consulted to seek support and advice and that the advertising of posts should be done more widely. It was also suggested that advertising or promotional campaigns could target specific groups, that promotional materials needed to show diversity within the workforce, and that the wording of adverts should be inclusive or clearly state that employers welcome applications from diverse backgrounds and minorities. It was also considered important to promote the benefits to the children of having diverse carers in advertising/promotional materials:
"Ensure advertising is spread across multiple platforms to catch as wide an audience as possible." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"If you can see it you can be it, show them pictures of diversity." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
Several suggested that positive discrimination was required in the recruitment process, either by advertising in specific areas/publications, by creating links with equality organisations, or by actively setting equality targets:
"Better recruitment, targeting underrepresented groups and clear messaging on benefits of diverse workforces, engaging with equality organisations especially those with employability programmes." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
Others, however, were not keen on encouraging diversity, were against positive discrimination, or felt this was of a lower priority than getting the best staff possible:
"Employment should simply be based on skill, ability, enthusiasm and suitability for the roll. A focus on diversity 'targets' skews this and shouldn't be considered." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"The most important thing is who is the right person for the job, not whether, they're male, female, black, white, etc." (Individual, OSC Provider)
There was also a role for the services in relation to increasing diversity, with a few respondents in each case highlighting that:
- they needed to be inclusive equal opportunities employers who provide a supportive work environment;
- they needed to be open to diversity;
- they should utilise blind CVs/job applications so candidates are not profiled;
- should be non-discriminatory;
- should develop and adhere to appropriate workforce/workplace policies; and
- they should provide flexibility to accommodate cultural or religious needs.
Finally, it was also suggested that by providing a wide range of activities, both within services and across the sector, this could encourage diversity. In particular, it was suggested that promoting active or outside play, outdoor activities, coaching or sports activities, science activities, etc. may attract more men into the profession:
"With a varied programme, this would bring varied skills and talents. Complementing play workers with sports/dance/drama/outdoor/IT co-ordinators for example." (Organisation, OSC Provider)
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