Why GCSE requirements will cause childcare costs to rise further


There’s no shortage of reports highlighting rising childcare costs. Recently, a study by the Family and Childcare Trust (formerly the Daycare Trust) showed that part-time childcare is now costing most families more than their mortgage or monthly food bill.

A few weeks earlier, we reported that the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) had published findings showing that 500,000 mothers could be out of work because the childcare on offer is expensive and inflexible.

Parents are struggling to afford care for their young children and childcare settings, in the majority of cases, certainly can’t afford to cut prices.

That’s why the announcement 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, has come as somewhat of a surprise to many in the industry.

In theory, the aim to raise the overall quality of literacy and numeracy of those joining the workforce is a good idea. You’d hope that competency would be passed down to the children.

In practice, however, it’s hard to see how this won’t cause some problems. At Parenta, the overwhelming majority of entrants to childcare courses (we have around 1500 learners at any one time) take functional skills tests because they don’t have A-C grades.

These functional skills tests still ensure a level of competency, but also give a second chance to those who may have not performed well on the day they took their exam. And, in a number of cases, that exam was taken years ago.

As those that work in settings will know, there is a lot more to caring for and nurturing young children than can be assessed in an academic qualification. And there’s a lot more to education than English and Maths.

With higher-qualified staff come higher wage bills. Instead of developing staff, those with GCSEs will be more sought after and command higher salaries. This, in turn, will lead to higher fees for parents. Some nurseries already look for strong academic grades and, in an ideal world, it’s understandable that a combination of personality and academic achievement would be sought after. Others, however, aren’t in the financial position to do so, or simply don’t have enough of these types of candidate available locally.

Surely, the key for parents is to know that their children are in safe hands, on their way to a good education and to becoming well-rounded human beings. Is this new requirement the way to achieve this? Or will it just prevent some fantastic child carers from developing careers? Leave your comments below.


6 thoughts on “Why GCSE requirements will cause childcare costs to rise further

  • April 1, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    I agree, our children deserve the best.

    Early Years Practitioners are underpaid for the work they do – young children are demanding and you need eyes in the back of your head….early years settings are very dynamic workplaces to be in.

    In principle I agree that we should have Level 3’s working with our children, however, this qualification comes at a cost.

    We’ve just been told that the 15 hours early years educational funding that children access from the term after their third birthday, is staying at the same level in 2014-15 period. It’s been stuck at £3.64 in Devon for several years already (since April 2009 I think), and yet, our costs across the board – rent/electricity/pay/caretaking/replacement costs/insurance have steadily risen since that time.

    Cheap Early Years Care does not equal Quality!

  • March 16, 2014 at 7:51 am

    What will prevent fantastic child carers into the field who do not have the required GCSE’s is the minimum requirement to employ Level 3 qualified staff.

    Whilst I fully support the decision to have Level 3 staff in a setting, it is also necessary to permit staff with a Level 2 qualification as support staff, who at a later date, after additional experience both in the field of child care and of life in general may be in a better ‘confidence’ position to gain Maths & English at GCSE grade C or above at a later date and then obtain their Level 3 qualification. It is a mistake by ‘whomever’, to exclude these ‘fantastic’ people from child care.

    I remain convinced that child care needs all levels of suitably qualified people, at each stage of their careers, the setting benefits from their presence, whether that is a Level 2 person, who aspires to ultimately seeking Level 3 or beyond, or the Level 3 or 4 individual who is seeking to reach Levels 5 or 6. I have seen, in my own experience over the years, members of staff progress from a starting point of Level 2 reach Level 6 – it benefits both the individual and the setting.

    Yes, of course it affects fees charged to have highly qualified staff, but parents who can afford child care will pay for it, those that are unable to afford it should be supported by the Government to do so, especially as the Government have required settings to have highly qualified professionals. My message to the Government – ‘put your money where your mouth is’ its called Equal Opportunity! Inevitably costs rise when the demand for higher qualifications exist, support will be needed for parents on low to middle incomes afford child care if this position continues.

    Why do the Government not see it the same way as they do in Education? Do the vast majority of children in this country not attend school free of charge? It should be the same in early years child care. The Government should give money to settings to provide the level of care and education they are determining necessary through qualifications and standards. If they are not prepared to do so, they should leave the determination of qualifications and standards to those experienced, skilled and knowledgeable from within the Early Years sector.

  • March 15, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    The functional skills tests aren’t just for people who didn’t get a-c grades. They are making it more difficult for themselves making everyone do functional skills! I started my NVQ 3 at 21 and because my GCSE’s were taken 5 years prior to me deciding I wanted to do the level 3 in child are they didn’t count! I got A – C grades at GCSE, revised and put a lot of hard work in at school… For what? To be told when I do actually decide what I want to do for a career they don’t count.

  • March 13, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Higher salary or not children deserve the best all round. Safe hands, secured environment as well as someone who can impact knowledge not an illiterate

  • March 13, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    One unmentiomed consequence could be to motivate young people to work harder whilst at school. If you don’t need a qualification to follow a particular career path why work for it? Every child leaving school with GCSE in English and Maths should be the minimum aim, not giving them an even easier lifeboat option.
    I blame the schools , not the pre-schools and nurseries for previous appalling standards of literacy and numeracy in primary schools. Putting the onus on the children to achieve at younger and younger ages, largely to justify the money now being put into the sector, is a top down approach. Yes we need funding for every child to be able to have a good pre-school experience with knowledgable and dedicated staff, Apart from anything else it saves the haves having to wait for the have-nots to catch up when they join together at school.

  • March 13, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Of course childcare fees will rise. If the government had asked nursery owners before they made this decision to increase qualifications we could have pointed out that higher qualifications mean higher salaries…….but isn’t this just too obvious?! We are told to employ graduates. We employ graduates. Graduates demand higher salaries. Childcare fees rise as a result! Simples!


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