This week saw the arrival of the long-awaited government response to Cathy Nutbrown’s review of early education and childcare qualifications, published last June.
Contained within the government’s report, Make Childcare Better, were a raft of changes to childcare policy that represent the biggest shake up of the sector since the introduction of the Early Years Foundation Stage in 2008.
One of the key aims outlined in the report, published on Monday, is to improve the level of education among childcare professionals. This will be achieved in a number of ways – principally through the introduction of two new job titles with more stringent requirements: the early years teacher and the early years educator.
Both of these roles will require a higher level of basic education. The early years teacher position will have the same entry requirements and skill tests as for a trainee primary school teacher, although it won’t receive qualified teacher status accreditation.
Sitting below the early years teacher will be the early years educator, a new Level 3 qualification. Early years educators will often act as assistants to early years teachers, and the role will provide a new way into the childcare profession.
Anyone wishing to become an early years educator will be required to have a pass at grade C or better in English and maths GCSE or equivalent – further cementing these core qualifications’ status as the true standard of basic education.
For working professionals, finding the time to attend a class to gain core qualifications can be practically impossible. Full-time employment, often in conjunction with raising a family, means studying at college can be a completely unrealistic prospect.
And while increasing the level of education among childcare staff is undoubtedly a noble aim, tougher entry requirements could make getting into the profession more difficult and more expensive. There’s also the possibility that childcare workers will have to take time out of their setting in order to gain new qualifications, which could impact on their ability to work.
The government hopes that one day all group childcare will be delivered by early years teachers and early years educators, and that the qualifications will be regarded as benchmarks of quality by parents. If the new qualifications lead to the childcare profession being better-respected, and childcare staff being viewed with the professionalism they deserve, the change is to be applauded.
NEC works closely with the industry’s leading awarding body, CACHE, and will aim to offer routes to these new qualifications as soon as they become available.
The college also offers GCSEs and IGCSEs in a range of subjects, including maths, science and English. If you lack those vital passes at grade C or better in any of these subjects, but don’t have time to attend regular classes, distance learning is the perfect option.
Find out more by visiting the NEC website.