William Eichler 26 April 2016

Whitehall’s ‘blinkered’ nursery recruitment policy damaging to sector, campaigners say

Whitehall’s ‘blinkered’ nursery recruitment policy damaging to sector, campaigners say image

The new requirement for nursery staff to have good GCSEs in Maths and English is a ‘narrow-minded’ policy that will have a ‘catastrophic’ impact on recruitment, campaign warns.

Starting in September, all Level 3 Early Years Educators (EYEs) will be required to have C grades or above in both subjects before being able to enter the sector. Equivalent qualifications will no longer be acceptable.

The Save Our Early Years campaign argues the policy will have ‘a catastrophic impact on the Early Years sector, and in turn on parents and children.’

Writing on the campaign’s website, Sue Learner, editor of daynurseries.co.uk, argues: ‘This emphasis on GCSEs is so blinkered and symptomatic of this whole mindset that has led to the reform of the national curriculum where suddenly school children are meant to be performing at a much higher level for their age than they were previously.’

Currently, there is a limit to how many children each member of staff is allowed to look after.

For one-year-olds and younger there must be one member of staff to three children. For two-year-olds its one staff member to four children. For three- and four-year-olds its one member of staff to eight children or one to 13 if the group is teacher-led.

After September, staff who do not have the requisite Cs in Maths and English will be able to work in nurseries, but they will not count towards the ratios.

‘We are very worried about the impact this policy is having on nurseries in terms of recruitment and staff morale, particularly with the 30 hours free childcare offer on the horizon,’ writes Sue Learner.

‘There are very able childcare practitioners with years of experience on a Level 2 who are being prevented from progressing in their career.’

Save Our Early Years is urging the Government to reinstate Functional Skills qualifications as an alternative to GCSEs.

‘Of course it is vital pre-school children are cared for by practitioners with a good level of Maths and English as they play a crucial role in their education and development,’ Ms Learner writes.

‘However, Functional Skills is a tried and tested route, giving practitioners practical skills and teaching them strategies to engage with children and spark a lifelong interest in numeracy and literacy.’

‘The qualification gives childcare practitioners skills which are relevant to their daily jobs which can be easily applied in the context of an early years setting,’ she adds.

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