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Sure Start Programme: Manpower

Volume 471: debated on Tuesday 29 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what was the average staff complement of a Sure Start centre in each of the last five years; what proportion of Sure Start centre staff had qualifications accredited by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority at (a) level 6, (b) level 3 and (c) level 1 or 2 only over the period; and if he will make a statement. (182268)

[holding answer 25 January 2008]: Information on the workforce in Sure Start local programmes (SSLPs) and Sure Start children's centres over the last five years is not available. However the 2006 Childcare and Early Years Provider Survey estimated that there were approximately 10,500 staff working in full day care provision in children's centres, of which 9,370 were paid staff and 1,150 were unpaid staff. The average number of paid staff per setting was 14. 9 per cent. of paid staff working in full day care provision in children's centres held a level 6 qualification as their highest level qualification, 62 per cent. held a level 3 qualification and 12 per cent. held a level 1 or level 2 qualification.

Sure Start children's centres, and before them SSLPs, were set up to offer a range of integrated services for young children and families, delivered by statutory, private and voluntary and independent sector agencies working together. SSLPs had flexibility to decide, following consultation with local families, which activities to provide around a core of health, family support, play and learning, and outreach and home visiting services to meet local priorities and needs. Staffing levels therefore varied considerably. Sure Start children's centres offer a minimum level of service including outreach services to families at risk of social exclusion; health and family support services, help with employment and training, advice and information for parents, and some centre based activities for children and families. Centres serving the most disadvantaged communities provide more intensive support and must additionally provide integrated early learning and full day care for children under five. Any centre offering integrated early education and full day care must employ a graduate with qualified teacher status. Over the longer term we expect all centre managers will follow the National Professional Qualification for Integrated Centre Leadership, all staff working through children's centres will be qualified to level 2, level 3 if they are working directly with children and that volunteers will be trained or mentored by qualified staff.