‘We’re broken’: Northamptonshire nursery staff feeling ‘disregarded’ as early years settings remain open

The owner is concerned about her staff as they are all told to continue despite being unable to implement social distancing

By Carly Odell
Tuesday, 5th January 2021, 3:01 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th January 2021, 3:02 pm

A Northamptonshire nursery owner has spoken out about the difficulties her and her staff face as they remain open during the national lockdown.

Little Learners Childcare nursery branches in Cliftonville, Northampton and Occupation Road, Corby, will remain open despite all schools only opening for children of keyworkers and vulnerable children.

Sam Evans, the owner of the early years company, has been left feeling frustrated and confused as to why it has been deemed safe for nursery workers to continue.

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Little Learners nurseries in Northampton and Corby will remain open.

Sam said: “We have been completely disregarded.

“We know the chances of dying are very small, but people are still getting Covid and getting really poorly from it.

“While children don’t suffer from it as badly, they do still catch it and spread it.

“There’s no logic behind it. There’s no justification as to why it’s safe for us to carry on working but teachers who can enforce some social distancing with some pupils are not safe at work.

Some parents have chosen not to send their children to nursery during the lockdown. (File picture).

“We have no PPE or social distancing but as a sector we have to carry on, so staff are rightly so worried.”

Parents of a small number of children across both nurseries have decided their child will not attend during the third lockdown, but Sam says it is not enough children to be able to furlough any staff.

As the early years sector is able to remain open and as Sam is unable to claim any money via the furlough scheme, she has had to make the decision to ask parents to continue to pay if they decide their child will not attend the nursery during lockdown.

Sam added: “We still have full staff wages to pay, plus bills and a lot of children due to start this month have delayed their start.

“We have to make enough to pay staff and keep the place open and we’re not getting any help.

“We have had upset parents on to us about this saying I’m putting profit before the children’s needs, but I’m not. I’m operating at a loss, I’m just trying to minimise that loss and keep everyone in a job.”

Despite concerns about safety, sleepless nights and a workforce which feels ‘broken’, nursery workers are still putting the needs of the children first.

“Obviously we want to support our families,” Sam continued.

“Staff spent the night crying, but have got up this morning with a smile on their face, which is probably a fake one, to come and look after the children.

“We have to put a smile on and do everything we can for the children, but we have no support or respect and we are all broken.

“It’s a horrible dilemma to be in as we don’t want to let the children down and we all do this job because we love it, not for the money.

“My staff have been amazing and have worked tirelessly through this in what is a pressurised job anyway.

“They’ve powered through and I can’t thank them enough so I feel so guilty that they have to work through this without any support, when they keep getting disregarded.”

To help with the request to continue working and keep nurseries open, Sam wants more support from the Government and some justification as to why it has been deemed safe for early years staff to continue.

She also believes that nursery workers need to be prioritised for a vaccination, alongside other workers who are unable to implement social distancing.

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