Dear First Minister, Minister for Education, Minister for Health and Social Services, and Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services
On behalf of the childcare and playwork sector we wish to draw your attention to our concerns about how announcements that jointly include education, childcare and playwork are presented and the impact this has.
Throughout the pandemic, we have faced challenges from our member settings and wider sector that the education sector is prioritised over the childcare, early years, and playwork sector. As organisations working closely with Welsh Government, we have addressed these concerns proportionately. We advised member organisations and stakeholders that Welsh Government recognise their contribution in supporting children and their families, and the important contribution childcare and playwork has made to the pandemic response in Wales. We also recognise that Ministers have paid tribute to the staff in the childcare and playwork sector. In particular, the letter from the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services before Christmas was widely welcomed by the sector.
Since January, as umbrella organisations for the sector, Cwlwm has faced increased challenges about why our members are treated differently to schools, being asked to take risks that schoolteachers are not by staying open to all children. Again, we have proportionately and sensitively responded in a collective effort to support Welsh Government and allay fears about risks to staff health. We have based our responses on the scientific evidence shared by Welsh Government.
It is disappointing therefore, that when a cabinet statement, jointly written by the Health and Social Services Ministers and Education Minister is publicly announced, childcare and playwork is not explicitly included in the oral statement. Including childcare and playwork would extend the speech by half a dozen words. When omitted, each Cwlwm partner is faced with managing the emotive reaction from childcare and play providers, again stating that they feel it is education that drives decision making in Welsh Government and is prioritised over childcare and playworkers.
Cwlwm appreciates that the testing policy, announced on Friday 5th February, was constructed across departments for education and health and social services synchronously but the repetition of making such announcements as ‘schools’ creates a momentum that is hard to counter, even in receipt of jointly written statements. Respectfully, we would request that Ministers consider including childcare and playwork in oral announcements alongside schools when the policy applies equally to both sectors. This would have a significant impact on the childcare and playwork sector. It would help in raising the status of the sector. It would demonstrate that the workforce is valued at all levels of Welsh Government. And it would reassure the staff in the childcare and playwork sector that their health, safety, and professionalism is every bit as important as that of colleagues in education.