In 2014 the Government altered the requirements so that all Level 3 Early Years Educators (EYEs) must have at least a C grade in GCSE English and in GCSE maths to count in the ratios. Previously, Functional Skills had been accepted as an equivalent or alternative to GCSEs – but the new policy has changed all that.
This change is now having a hugely negative effect on the sector, with serious concerns being raised by childcare providers across the country about the real problems they are now facing in recruiting Level 3 practitioners. This shortage threatens both the quality and cost-effectiveness of childcare available to parents. It will also undermine the Government’s policy on ratios and its pledge to provide working parents with 30 hours’ free childcare.
A recent survey by the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) found that less than 50 per cent of nurseries say they will be able to deliver the 30 hours’ promise, and this is without taking into account the effects of the latest policy change.
Of course English and maths are vital for the workforce – we absolutely agree that Level 3 Early Years Educators should be able to demonstrate good standards in both these subjects. But the current policy is at odds with the Government’s approach to other sectors, where Functional Skills is accorded equivalent status to GCSEs, and is causing the sector such difficulties. We simply want a level playing field.
The current requirement is turning away potential entrants to the workforce and providers are therefore unable to recruit enough staff. They cannot meet parents’ demand for childcare and costs will rise. We are sure the Government did not intend for its policy to cause these problems – and so we really hope it will change its mind and allow Functional Skills again. Functional Skills do provide for good standards of English and maths and also the soft skills that are so crucial for childcare professionals.
That is why CACHE is calling on the Government to #SaveOurEarlyYears and again recognise the value of Functional Skills in Early Years Education.
Julie Hyde is the Executive Director of CACHE