Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from Professor Lesley Abbott (EY 69)


    "The calibre and training of the professionals who work with children are the key determinants of high quality provision".—RSA Early Learning Inquiry (Ball 1994)

  1.  Research findings increasingly highlight the link between quality early years provision and practice and the appropriateness of the training undertaken by staff. MMU 1994: EPPE 1999.

  2.  A "climbing frame" of training opportunity should allow all staff to progress as far as possible both upwards and across the climbing frame.

  3.  Availability, Access and Funding are key issues in determining the success of a "climbing frame" model which addresses initial training and continuing professional development.

  4.  The multi-disciplinary nature of early years work requires staff who are able to work across disciplines. Training at all levels should take account of this requirement and the new training needs in response to initiatives such as Sure Start and Early Excellence Centres.

  5.  There is a shortage of trainers in Colleges and Universities with sufficient experience, knowledge and understanding of the Early Years phase 0-6 years. Appropriately qualified trainers are needed particularly to support staff working with the 0-3 age range and the implementation of (ELGs 3-5). The Foundation Stage and the Early Learning Goals.

  6.  The increase in interdisciplinary degrees such as the BA Early Childhood Studies is encouraging, but lack of funding, particularly to support experienced but low paid staff on part- time courses discourages many potential students. Access to degree level study is particularly important in the light of the recommendations of the Early Childhood Education Forum and the Pre-school Review (1999) that all managers of Centres should be graduates.

  7.  Whilst Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships support training at the local level more award bearing opportunities are needed.

  8.  The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority Framework has been developed in order to establish national standards and career routes. This is welcomed, however it does not yet fully acknowledge the links with Higher Education which are necessary for full development of the climbing frame.

  9.  NVQ Level 4 is seen as the link between vocational and Higher Education but this level has not yet been fully developed for the Early Years.

  10.  There are still major differences between academic and vocational qualifications particularly with regard to the opportunities for staff to gain the necessary underpinning knowledge.

  11.  The UK is still one of the few countries in the world where all nursery teachers are graduates, qualified to teach at any stage in the education system. Whilst the status of Early Years teachers must be safeguarded, increasing pressure is placed upon Early Years students in training.[51] (DfEE Circular 4/98)

  12.  The Teacher Training Agency should recognise the complex nature of Early Years Teaching and revise the standards accordingly.

  13.  More specialist Early Years courses are required which are sufficiently flexible to meet student need and address key issues such as child development, working with parents and carers, management of an Early Years setting.

  14.  New routes into teaching should include part time study and school and centre based training but the status and quality of training and of Early Years teachers must be safeguarded.

  15.  Support for childminders and private and voluntary sector workers in accessing training and gaining recognised qualifications should be increased and every effort made in order to remove barriers preventing access to all levels of the "climbing frame". (Pre-School Review 1999).

  16.  Those responsible for training at all levels must themselves have appropriate qualifications and training.

  17.  It is important that there are Early Years representatives on the General Teaching Council with responsibility to inform and support Early Years teachers, particularly those working across the range of Early Years provision.


  Abbott L & Pugh G (eds) (1998) Training to work in the Early Years Developing the Climbing Frame. Buckingham Open University Press.

  Ball C (1994): Start Right—Report of the RSA Early Learning Inquiry. London RSA.

  Department for Education and Employment Circular 4/98—Teaching : High Status, High Standards. London DfEE.

  Sylva K, Melhuish E, Sammons P and Siraj-Blatchford (1999): The Effective Provision of Pre-School: Education—Technical paper 6.

  Manchester Metropolitan University (1994): Factors Affecting the Quality of Provision in Pre-School Settings. Report of the Esme«e Fairbairn/MMU Research Project. MMU.

  Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (1999): Early Years Education, Childcare and Playwork. A framework of nationally accredited qualifications. London QCA.

  Department for Education and Employment (1999): Tomorrows' children: the review of pre-schools and playgroups. London DfEE.

Professor Lesley Abbott

April 2000

51   To meet additional standards. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 11 January 2001