Thursday, 1 August 2013

Improving the quality of childcare

Childcare and Early Years


At NEC, we help many early years practitioners to gain qualifications by distance learning, whether that be specific childcare qualifications or GCSEs, to become an early years teacher.

With all of the recently announced changes, we thought we’d explain what this means for current staff, and those aspiring to work in early years and childcare.

What is changing?

The government wants to ensure the UK has a ‘dynamic childcare market delivering high quality education’. In order to raise the status and quality of the childcare workforce, the criteria that underpins level 3 qualifications has been revised. A new qualification for early years educator will start enrolling September 2014, and early years educators will be expected to have grade C in GCSE maths and English or equivalent.

Settings will also have early years teachers of graduate level which will be qualified in line with primary teachers, including needing to have GCSE or equivalent in maths, English and science.

What does that mean for me?

If you are already qualified to level 3 it is likely that you will not have to retake your qualification. The qualifications finder on the Department for Education website will tell you if the qualification you have will be sufficient, or if further accreditation is required. For those that have studied recently, either the Diploma in Pre-school Practice or the Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce will still be accepted.

If you are looking to work with children and young people, the qualifications available now are still available for you to enrol on. They will not need to be re-done, and you will not need to finish before the introduction of the new standards in September 2014. If you hope to progress to become an early years educator, you will need to make sure you have GCSE or equivalent in maths, English and science.

What do people think of these changes?

Many feel that the changes being made are overdue, and that we have a right to expect quality childcare provision where parents feel confident in the abilities of the workforce to nurture their children and help them grow. The early stages of childhood are a time when physical, cognitive and emotional development happens at a faster rate than any other time of their lives, so it makes sense to ensure we have a workforce that is qualified and has a good grounding in the basic subjects.

Of course there is another view: will a more demanding and rigorous childcare qualification and requirements for a good academic base exclude people who have a natural disposition and talent for working with children?

The team of tutors that work with NEC’s childcare and early years learners are all experts in the field and have a long history of working within the sector. Here are some of their thoughts:

‘A good grounding in basic knowledge such as literacy and numeracy is, I think, paramount. Furthermore, parents I'm sure expect that those who act in loco parentis have a good level of both basic education and specialist early years qualifications so that they can effectively support their children's learning and development. We owe it to ourselves, our chosen profession and the children we support to maintain a certain rigour in professional standards if we want to be taken seriously.’ Nina Taylor

‘Childcare is no longer letting the children "play together nicely".  It is a serious business which means preparing the children in our care for the real world in the best way we can.  We need a huge range of skills - educator, entertainer, child protection, first aid, planner, nutritionalist, communicator.  These can only be gained if individuals are able to attend workshops, courses, gain qualifications ... all of which need a good solid base of GCSEs or an equivalent.’ Kate Wake

‘As with any teacher at any other level they need to be more than one step ahead. You cannot sufficiently support a child's English if your vocabulary is weak, your spelling is poor and your reading and writing skills are not good examples. Similarly practitioners need good understanding of mathematical and scientific concepts so that they can explain to children not just what and how but why things are so.’ Carolyn Newbert

Contact NEC today if you are interested in taking any of the courses discussed above by distance learning, and let us know what you think of these changes on Facebook and Twitter.

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