Childcare qualifications overhaul


As part of the government’s overhaul of training and qualifications in childcare and early education, the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) has set out what will be expected of the new early years teachers and early years educators.

Early years teachers will be graduate leaders in early years settings on a par with school teachers. They will need to meet new standards, published today, which closely mirror the standards for classroom teachers, and trainees will need to take the same skills tests taken by classroom teacher trainees. These measures will raise the status of the profession and help attract high-quality graduates into early education.

Early years educators will hold A level equivalent qualifications and provide support to early years teachers. At the moment employers and parents are faced with a bewildering number of qualifications, making it almost impossible to know which staff are best able to provide high-quality early education. Under new criteria published today, only the very best qualifications will earn the ‘early years educator’ label.

Ministers hope that employers and parents will come to recognise the early years teacher and early years educator titles as benchmarks of quality.

Education Minister Elizabeth Truss said: “Good quality early years education, which is teacher-led, has been shown to be beneficial for children, especially those from low income backgrounds. It makes a difference to young children’s lives and enables them to learn and grow. It is important for parents to have a choice of different approaches in early years - including teacher-led activity such as story telling; singing and dancing; structured group activities where children learn to interact with each other; and free play and exploration.

“When parents hand their child over to the care of a childminder or nursery they are not just entrusting them with their child’s physical safety; they are also entrusting their child’s brain. These changes will mean parents and employers can have more confidence in the quality of the staff looking after their children. Early years educators will be expected to have English and maths GCSEs so that parents know the people they are entrusting their children to will have literacy and numeracy skills. The more robust early years educator criteria will help to slim down the number of qualifications in the future so it is easier for parents and employers to understand them.”