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Department of Education Workforce Strategy

In March the DfE published the Early Years Workforce Strategy. The main focus of attention has been on the decision to amend the current regulatory requirement that anyone holding the Early Years Educator qualification must also hold GCSE Maths and English at grade C or above in order to be counted in the ratios at level 3. Following a long campaign within the sector the Department broadened the list of qualifications accepted as equivalent to GCSEs to include Functional Skills. Many employers and training providers had provided evidence that the GCSE only requirements had impacted on staff recruitment, progression and retention.

The document recognises that the formal qualifications framework for early years is not comprehensive nor does it offer specialist areas of work. The value of a level 2 qualification is recognised as a route into the sector, but current programmes will be reviewed to ensure they provide a solid progression route to level 3. Whilst qualification reviews are necessary to ensure programmes remain fit for purpose and up to date, it would be wrong to suggest that there are no effective level 2 courses currently available. The Alliance is confident that the Cache award it offers does prepare learners effectively to progress to further study.

In terms of graduate level staff the document outlines the benefits they provide in offering a high quality curriculum and narrowing the gap between wealthier and more disadvantaged children. Consultations and reviews are promised to consider whether Early Years Teacher (and Early Years Practitioner) graduates should be permitted to lead nursery and reception classes in maintained schools, if Qualified Teacher Status should be granted to them and how to attract more early years graduates into disadvantaged areas.

The Strategy does not repeat earlier targets, goals and aspirations to have all provision led by an early years graduate. 

A welcome addition is the proposal to develop a qualification, by 2018, to recognise the skills and competences of staff who chose to focus on supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities. 

Click here to read the Early Years Work Force Strategy