It was recently announced that entrants to early years’ level 3 educator training courses will need to hold GCSE's in English and Mathematics at grade C or above, raising overall quality of literacy and numeracy of those joining the workforce.

The More Great Childcare report from January of last year put in place a case for change, noting that during an independent review in 2012 Professor Cathy Nutbrown wrote, “There is currently no requirement for those studying at any level to demonstrate competence in English and Mathematics”.

She went on to say “Parents trust nurseries to help their children learn to speak and add up in the crucial early stages of their development. Yet early years qualifications do not presently require learners to have mastered basic literacy and numeracy”. Professor Nutbrown put forward the case that ultimately this is damaging both to children’s development and to parents’ confidence in the system.

From this the Department for Education states that that the following changes to entry requirements will be implemented later this year:

  • From 1 August 2014 government funding of early years educator training courses through the Skills Funding Agency will require GCSE English and Mathematics, at grade C or above, on entry.
  • Functional skills will not be accepted as equivalents to GCSEs. Training providers will be required to confirm a candidates prior achievement and record it in the learning agreement before enrolling them on to early years’ educator training.
  • The early years foundation stage (EYFS) will be amended by the Department for Education to make it clear that to count in the existing staff to child ratios at level 3, staff holding a new early years’ educator qualification must also have achieved GCSEs in English/English Language and Mathematics, at grade C or above.
  • For entrants already accredited the requirements will remain the same, with only new applicants facing the latest entry requirement, which sees the removal of functional skills as an acceptable alternative.

It has been noted that this conflicts with the BIS Trailblazer apprenticeship for early years, which allows for qualification for apprenticeships by Functional Skills, so there will need to be clarification before the new rule comes into play.

How will raising entry level requirements affect the competition and attractiveness within the childcare job market?

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