We are pleased to announce the findings of our new research, conducted by the Open University, that explores the Montessori workforce and challenges facing Montessori settings in England.
We commissioned this report to help dispel the myth that Montessori nurseries are exempt from the challenges affecting the early years sector because they are ‘privileged’. We aim to change these misconceptions and show that Montessori settings are impacted by a range of challenges, just as traditional nurseries are. The report also provides recommendations on how to overcome them.
The research was carried out by Professor Jane Payler and Dr Stephanie Bennett in conjunction with The Open University and the findings were collated via a survey with participants comprising of nursery schools, day nurseries and childminders from all over the country. Here’s an overview of the key findings.
The research showed that Montessori settings often have a greater proportion of higher qualified staff than other nurseries. These practitioners are also more likely to stay at their setting for over five years compared to the general Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) workforce.
Montessori settings were also more likely to have achieved a Good or Outstanding Ofsted rating than the general sector, particularly a rating of Outstanding, showing the quality education that many settings are offering to children across the UK.
Our research found that fewer Montessori staff were studying for qualifications than the general workforce, against a national pattern of falling rates. Additionally, professional development for existing Montessori practitioners seems to be more challenging than the general sector, with fewer choices and less assurance of quality and value.
Access to training is vital to practitioners in the Early Years sector, and we hope our partnership with Leeds Beckett University to create the International Montessori Institute will help fill this gap. We will continue to work to ensure there are accessible choices for professional development for Montessori staff in future.
Safeguarding Montessori education in the UK
The findings revealed that a higher majority of Montessori staff are older than the general ECEC sector. It also found that the percentage of Montessori staff with teaching qualifications and those studying for qualifications has fallen since 2013. This may correlate with findings which showed there were fewer accessible choices for Montessori professional development.
Montessori settings also reported their biggest recruitment challenges over the last two years, largely as a result of lack of access to Montessori trained staff or staff with sufficiently high-quality qualifications, a concern shared on a national level. The cost of advertising for Montessori roles often did not bring the results of suitable applicants. This insecurity could be further affected by future Brexit agreements.
To safeguard Montessori education in the UK, it’s imperative that we ensure enough individuals are entering the sector as Montessori-trained practitioners. We hope our new 2020 pledge, the new International Montessori Institute, and our work building awareness about the value of the Montessori method in the modern world will help ensure that Montessori education survives and thrives in the UK.
Read the full report, ‘Workforce composition, qualifications and professional development in Montessori early childhood education and care settings in England’, here.