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The government’s publication ‘More great childcare’ (January 2013) set out the vision for quality in early education and childcare.  The  goal was to make sure there is more great childcare available for parents and children. The introduction of early years educators (level 3) will ensure those who work with babies and young children are increasingly skilled and professional, and early years teachers will be expected to be educated to the same level as a primary school teacher.

Charlie Taylor, chief executive of the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL), said: “There is nothing more important in early education and childcare than the quality of the staff who are delivering it. The workforce supporting our babies, young children and their parents should be well qualified, well respected and well led.”

From September this year, early years teacher trainees must have at least a GCSE grade C in English, Maths and Science, or their equivalent. From September 2014 they will have to pass the same skills test as classroom teacher trainees.  (Download the teacher standards here)

Following an 8 week public consultation undertaken by the NCTL, which ended on 22 April 2013, the early years educator criteria were published last week, to some criticism from the industry.  Early Years Educators will be expected to hold GCSE Maths and English to start the course, which is equivalent to an A-level. (Download the qualification criteria here)

Education minister Elizabeth Truss said: “Good quality early years education, which is teacher-led, has been shown to be beneficial for children, especially those from low-income backgrounds. It makes a difference to young children’s lives and enables them to learn and grow.”

The Pre-school Learning Alliance has, however, expressed disappointment that there is no explicit commitment to learning through play in either qualifications, or reference to working with children with special educational needs.

Chief executive Neil Leitch said: “We are dismayed that the government has chosen to ignore the advice of qualified and experienced early years and childcare practitioners and make no explicit reference to learning through play in both of these qualifications.

“In our consultation responses to the government we stressed the importance of referring to learning through play in these qualifications as this is the cornerstone of high-quality early years provision in this country. That the government has chosen to ignore such a key foundation of early years practice is a grave concern.”

He also disagreed with the government’s claim that the creation of the early years teacher and educator qualifications would improve the status of the sector, noting that although early years teachers will have to undergo the same skill tests as classroom teachers they will not be granted “qualified teacher status”.

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