You are here: News £1 an hour wage increase makes good nurseries outstanding, new research finds

A new study by the Family and Childcare Trust has found a strong link between staff pay and quality in nurseries in England, with a pay increase of just under £1 an hour difference between childcare settings with a ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted grade.

The report – In for a pound – found that nurseries and pre-schools awarded ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted pay their staff an average hourly wage of £8.37 compared to £7.44 in settings that have achieved a ‘Good’ grade. Nurseries graded ‘Requires Improvement’ or ‘Inadequate’ pay an average of £6.92 an hour.

This link between pay and Ofsted grades is replicated in each of England’s nine regions, and is most pronounced in London where £2.58 an hour is the difference between ‘Outstanding’ settings and those that are ‘Inadequate’ or ‘Requires Improvement’. In the North West, this difference is reduced to £2 an hour.

Julia Margo, chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust said:

“It is no surprise that higher pay produces higher quality provision. We know that only good quality childcare makes a positive difference to the lives of disadvantaged children which is why we are calling on the Department for Education to address low pay in its forthcoming early years’ workforce strategy. “Longer term, we want to see a fully graduate-led workforce with a minimum professional rate of pay, bringing early years professionals in line with their school colleagues. Without this, low pay will continue to discourage highly skilled people from joining the profession and will affect the quality of care received by our children.”

Other report recommendations include:

  • Further research by Ofsted on the relationship between early years childcare provider income, staff wages and quality, to provide the Government with evidence to inform policy making.
  • An increase in the amount of dedicated funding to support training and increase the proportion of qualified early years practitioners. Funding should be made available to attract graduates to the profession and to support practitioners working towards level 3 qualifications.
  • The introduction of an admissions code for free early education to support parents’ rights.

Contact: Mark Bou Mansour, Communications and Campaigns Manager. Telephone: 0207 940 7535, mobile: 07538 334 772, email:

Notes to Editor 

  • Our report shows that staff working in ‘Outstanding’ nursery settings are paid on average 12 per cent more than those working in ‘Good’ settings.
  • The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings estimated the gross median for nursery nurses and assistants as £7.44 per hour in 2015, while childcare workers were paid £8.26.
  • Labour Force Survey data from 2012-2014 shows that 27 per cent of England’s early years’ workforce is aged 25 and under, compared with 14 per cent of workers in non-childcare occupations.
  • Only high quality early education has the capacity to narrow development gaps disadvantaged children and their peers.
  • In for a pound is a report sponsored by Community Playthings.


  • The Family and Childcare Trust analysed the hourly pay rates in 900 job advertisements for nursery staff across the regions of England, and tracked these rates against the most recent Ofsted reports for the same settings.
  • Only nurseries in the private and voluntary sector (PVI) were analysed.
  • Pay rates for nursery managers and supervisors were not included in this research.

About the Family and Childcare Trust

The Family and Childcare Trust aims to make the UK a better place for families. We are a leading national family charity in the field of policy, research and advocacy on childcare and family issues, with over 40 years’ experience. Our on-the-ground work with parents and providers informs our research and campaigns. We focus on the early years and childcare because they are crucial to boosting children’s outcomes throughout life and supporting parents to work.

About Community Playthings

Love for children underpins Community Playthings’ product design. Manufactured in the UK, our solid wooden furniture and equipment supports children’s creativity, learning and play in schools and nurseries across the private, voluntary and public sectors. Community Playthings has been creating child-friendly environments for over 50 years. For more information, visit