Why GCSE requirements will cause childcare costs to rise further

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.

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Entry for childcare qualifications to get harder

Entry for childcare qualifications to get harder

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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