Like many awarding organisations, we have witnessed the impact the GCSE requirement has had on the number of young people entering the childcare profession.

Training organisations, colleges and employers are registering fewer learners on the level 3 early years qualifications and apprenticeships than in previous years. Many are choosing to withdraw from offering the qualifications altogether, because of the challenge of delivering GCSEs or finding learners who have already achieved them.

Employers tell us that staff shortages are a very real issue and yet young people who are passionate, enthusiastic and committed to working with children are being discouraged from working in the sector because of the requirement to have GCSE at A*-C.

Like many, we believe the government should look again at Functional Skills qualifications. Feedback from employers and learners across many industries illustrates the positive impact they have on the development of English and maths skills.

They may not have the academic focus of GCSE, but they give people the skills to operate confidently in work and life. In so many ways, they are more beneficial to a young person who has chosen a work-based-learning path.

Skillsfirst are happy to support the call on Government to #SaveOurEarlyYears and to encourage them to recognise the value and validity of Functional Skills in Early Years Education.

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