Recently, Early Years Minister Caroline Dinenage announced the acceptance of alternative, equivalent qualifications to GCSE’s en route to becoming part of nursery staff, enabling practitioners with a smorgasbord of backgrounds access to early years education. The announcement, released in the aftermath of the proposal to provide 30 free hours of childcare a week for working families, seems to be aiming to run concurrently with the plan, signalling the commencement of a revamp of the early education system. This may ultimately showcase the effectiveness of protests, as the announcement seemed to occur in the midst of campaigns to achieve this goal; these campaigners now seemed to have achieved their aim, and ultimately may set the precedent for contributing to other reforms to benefit society.
Prior to Dinenage’s speech, the government confirmed the instillation of an increase in free child care hours for working families. Currently 15 hours are available, with the vast majority of families eligible, yet in September this may double to 30 free hours a week, available during term times. This may be contributing to the enforcement of the government’s early years workface strategy, aiming to both ease the pressure on parents possessing full or part time jobs, and providing superiorly efficient opportunities for young children to advance their growth, seemingly summarised via the broader aim of creating a more educated society.
At the forefront of the campaign is the NDNA: National Day Nurseries Association. A charitable organisation, they seem to vocalise the opinions of the 20,000 strong sector, and in turn providing opportunities, and increased provision, for over a million children. Spearheading this group is Purnima Tanuku, the Chief Executive of the Senior Management Team, and her support may be pivotal in ensuring the progression of the area; she seems to boast an experienced repertoire, having worked with multiple public, private and charitable organisations, and her involvement in the development of the NDNA’s National Early Year’s Enterprise Centre may highlight these credentials further. In addition, Tanuku was awarded an OBE in 2010 for services to families, proving she understands the desires of young families, and ultimately was recognised due to her accomplishments in the field. Ultimately, the support of established leaders, and politicians, coupled with the aforementioned campaigners, may showcase the vast array of support assembled, and may act as the catalyst in other important societal areas to be scrutinised, and eventually reformed.
Most pivotally, the reform seems to be aiming to contribute to the improvement of the recruitment situation, and ultimately enhance the employment rate. Whilst since 2014 new recruits solely required C grades in GCSE English and Maths, an acceptance of work-based routes seems to highlight the meaningfulness of functional skills qualifications. As such, this seems to allow sector choice, as in order to progress further to early years teacher status, GCSE grades may be key, whilst the desire for level three qualifications may now occur via a demonstration of knowledge, and understanding, of supporting children in literacy and numeracy skills due to a more appropriate work based route. This reform may enable the improvement of employment rate of Britain, as a fresh, young batch of practitioners may have been provided with an opportunity to progress their careers through both motivation and dedication, driving the education system forward with their innovative ideologies.
The modification seems to have already earned the support of the public, most notably due to the positive implications on society; allowing a larger variety of options to enter the profession may enable a wider breadth of practitioners to expand their credentials. These plans, coupled with the increase in monetary assistance to expand early years teaching, may enable a wider quantity of the public to become involved in the profession, and highlight the benefits of functional skills qualifications. Ultimately, the change seems to be enabling both those with an educational background, and those possessing a work-based route, to have an equal platform on which they may achieve and, if successful in nullifying the nursery recruitment predicament, may act as the catalyst in elevating Britain’s standings in comparison to the rest of Europe.
How may the modification allowing alternative routes to become involved in early-years teaching be replicated for other professions?