Department for Education Early Years Campaign– Key Survey Findings

Between 18.01.24 – 22.01.24, 2,045 respondents of which 1,012 were parents, were surveyed online by Perspectus Global on behalf of the Department for Education, to find out more about nationwide perceptions of a career in early years.

The survey adheres to the MRS Code of Conduct based on the ESMOAR principles.


  • 51% of Brits would consider working with pre-school children.
  • For 39% of Brits, a one-off payment of £1000 would make them consider a career working with children under five.*
  • Well over half (61%) of Brits are currently considering, or open to considering, a career change.
  • Close to half (49%) of Brits feel there would be career progression if they had a career working with children under five.
  • Almost three quarters (72%) of Brits would like to work in a role that felt more meaningful/made the world a better place.

*Only those respondents that answered that they might, or probably / definitely wouldn’t consider a career as an early years professional were asked this question.

Experience / Skills:

  • Over half (55%) of Brits are confident they have the skills to work with under 5-year-olds.
  • Brits think that the top five skills and qualities needed for working with young children under five are:
  1. Patience (65%)
  2. Calmness (52%)
  3. A positive attitude (39%)
  4. Communication skills (36%)
  5. Creativity (33%) and compassion (33%)
  • Only one in five (21%) Brits think a sense of humour is a skill needed for working with young children.

Reward / Enjoyment:

  • 84% of parents believing working with children would be a rewarding career.
  • The top five things Brits would enjoy as an early years professional are:
  1. Reading books & telling stories (51%)
  2. Helping with early learning skills in counting & reading (48%)
  3. Helping children to use their imaginations (45%)
  4. Helping children to interact with others (38%)
  5. Creative activities like painting (36%)
  • The top five reasons stopping Brits considering a job working with children under five are:
  1. Not having the right qualifications (47%)
  2. Not having the patience to work with young children (31%)
  3. Feeling like the job would be too tiring (29%)
  4. Feeling as though they don’t have the skills to deal with children (26%)
  5. Finding the idea of working with children too challenging (21%)
  • The top three things attracting Brits to working with children are:
  1. Thinking that the work would be rewarding (41%)
  2. Wanting to give children the best start in life (40%)
  3. Wanting to be a part of children’s development (33%)

Impact on Parents:

1,012 parents of under 16 year olds were surveyed, and these parents were asked to think about when their child was under five-years-old. The results included:

  • Almost all (97%) of Brits think that their child’s early years professional had an impact on their child’s development, and almost all (96%) value them.
  • Well over half (66%) of British parents believe their child’s early years professional is one of the most important/influential people in their child’s life.
  • Three quarters (74%) of British parents describe early years professionals as real-life superheroes!

Parenting Experience:

In terms of their own parenting experience, the survey revealed:

  • Over a quarter (26%) of British parents do deals with their children to encourage them to behave.
  • Over half (59%) of British parents have reported that negotiating with toddlers was more challenging than negotiating a new work salary.
  • Over a third (40%) of Brits believe the biggest challenge when communicating with their child was their own lack of imagination.

Changing Parenting Styles:

The difference in today’s parenting style to that of respondent’s parents:

  • Almost four out of five (79%) of British parents say they pay more attention to their child’s mental health than their own parents did to theirs.
  • Close to three quarters say they spend more time taking their children to activities than their parents did (72%), and that they spend more time playing with their children than their parents did (72%).
  • 70% say they praise their children more than their parents did and that they are more compassionate with their children than their parents were with them.