The Department for Education has set out new criteria which Level 2 early years qualifications will be required to meet from September 2019.

The new standards have been described as ‘realistic and fit-for-purpose’ by the National Day Nurseries Association director for quality and training, Stella Ziolkowski.

The Level 2 criteria will be used by awarding organisations to develop new qualifications for delivery. From the 1st September 2019, early years practitioners will be required to undertake qualifications that meet these criteria.

Following sector feedback to a 12-week consultation which closed in February, the job title of ‘Level 2 assistant’ initially proposed by the Government will be replaced by ‘Level 2 practitioner’.

The new criteria has had content added which will build upon areas such as safeguarding, parental involvement and SEND support.

Some of the changes include:

  • Addition of oral hygiene and dental care references to health and safety and wellbeing sections
  • Strengthened communication section to include all children and those with ‘delayed speech’
  • Reference to ‘curriculum’ changed to ‘statutory guidance’ for clarity
  • Additions to the child development section in respect of the Key Person role and how children learn
  • Content added to strengthen the safeguarding section, including types of abuse
  • Strengthened parent/ child involvement in planning/assessment and SEND support sections

The National Day Nurseries Association director for quality and training, Stella Ziolkowski, who sat on the panel of experts looking at the new standards, said: “These standards are now really relevant and up to date. Following consultation with the sector, we know that these changes mean that Level 2 practitioners will have the skills and knowledge that employers need them to have.

“We have made sure these standards are realistic and fit-for-purpose. They really raise the bar for Level 2s and bring them much closer in knowledge and skills to level 3 practitioners.

“They will have a deeper understanding of the EYFS and how to support children’s development. Once these new standards come in, it should raise the level of quality of the early education on offer in our nurseries.”

The DfE has also published a separate specification for a Level 2 Early Years SEND qualification, which it believes will be a useful top-up for Level 2 practitioners who achieved a qualification before the introduction of the Level 2 early years practitioner criteria.

Children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi said, “Our ambition for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is exactly the same as it is for all children – we want them to be able  to do their best throughout school and college, and live happy, fulfilled lives where they can reach their full potential.

“That’s why the reforms we have made to the system, including the introduction of Education, Health and Care plans, put children at the heart of the process and we are investing a record £6 billion on high needs funding for councils this year – an increase of £1 billion since 2013.

“We are providing teachers with the tools and training to support children with SEND throughout school and have introduced new qualifications for early years professionals to provide tailored help to those with SEND in their early education.”

Read the full Government consultation response for the level 2 criteria here.

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