I strongly feel, and this is backed up by experience, that the GCSE requirement, especially in maths, is a huge barrier for many wonderful staff entering the profession. In many cases, their maths skills are perfectly adequate but they have tried on numerous occasions to gain this qualification and can’t – and therefore become unemployable, which is crazy.
I have been in this business for almost 30 years and had my own nursery for 25. Most nursery practitioners/those in the caring professions are not generally mathematically minded, nor aiming to be highly academic. But they have a great deal of common sense and are incredibly caring and bright. Those are the attributes, alongside good literacy and numeracy, that really matter in our profession.
There has already been a drop in the numbers of applicants choosing Level 3 in childcare and this will only get worse. I generally have a very low turnover but last year I needed to advertise and interviewed at least three very motivated, excellent candidates with many years’ experience who would have been perfect – but none had maths GCSE so sadly I could not take their applications further. One had BA and MA degrees.
Indeed, I myself do not have maths GCSE yet I have run a highly respected, multi-award winning, Ofsted outstanding nursery for over 25 years, and I manage to get the business figures right.
We do track many past children and the ones we are in contact with have gone onto excellent jobs including many lawyers, doctors and an actuary – none of these would appear to have suffered from my lack of maths GCSE.
Carol Medcalf, is the Managing Director of Carol Jane Montessori Nursery School, in Enfield, which was named South of England nursery of year last year by the National Day Nurseries Association.