40. The crucial importance of a well trained and
well qualified Early Years work force was emphasised throughout
the inquiry as a major factor in the development of high quality
early education and care services. Parents who would not dream
of hiring a plumber without qualifications seem to be prepared
to leave their children in the care of unqualified staff.
|"Effective education requires both a relevant curriculum and practitioners who understand and are able to implement the curriculum requirements. Effective education requires practitioners who understand that children develop rapidly during the Early Yearsphysically, intellectually, emotionally and socially."QCA Curriculum Guidance, page 13.|
QCA goals page 13.
41. The link between practitioner training and children's
educational progress was highlighted by several witnesses. For
example, Early Education told the Sub-committee: "Teaching
in the early years demands particular skills in educators which
go beyond the direct transmission of knowledge. This is the stage
when the foundations for life long learning are laid".
The Professional Association of Early Childhood Educators
in its written evidence drew attention to the "ample evidence
that fully qualified early years teachers offer enormous benefits
to children's learning: the work of Pascal and Bertram (1998),
Sylva (1999), and Moyles and Suschitzky (1998), in particular
show unequivocally that quality outcomes to children's learning
are a result of the involvement of qualified teachers".
Similarly, Dr Gillian Pugh of Coram Family drew upon the research
"There is a clear link
between the quality of early years provision and the quality of
the teachers and other early years educators working with them
... Effective early education requires a well qualified workforce,
all of whom should be appropriately trained. All early years settings
should employ or have regular access to early years teachers.
Teaching young children is a skilled and demanding job. As the
RSA Report (1994) argued, early years teachers require a breadth
of knowledge, understanding and experience which is not required
of those trained to teach older children".
42. There was some debate about the role of qualified
teachers within the early childhood workforce and the requirement
that all early educational settings should be led by a qualified
teacher . In her analysis of the written evidence submitted to
the Sub-committee, Ms Eva Lloyd of the National Early Years Network
told the Sub-committee that:
"The majority of respondents
see it as essential that all those working in the Foundation Stage
should have a recognised early years qualification. However, independent
day nurseries and the Children's Society believes that it is 'vital
that education in the early years is not seen as the prerogative
of teachers'. Opinion varies as to the appropriate qualification
for those in charge of early years settings delivering early education,
but the majority of respondents, including PLA, come down firmly
on the side of a qualified early years teacher being the appropriate
person. Alongside this person, qualified support staff such as
nursery nurses and classroom assistants should be employed. The
Sub-committee is urged not to overlook this 'invisible professional'."
43. The National Day Nurseries Association has long
argued for the enhancement of Early Years qualifications and the
development of a ladder of progression, but "we do not, however,
accept that the present focus on all early years qualifications
should lead to qualified teacher status ... the ladder of progression
should enable early years staff to achieve qualifications that
allows them to attain a status of equivalent value to that of
a teacher. We would see this as running parallel and complementing
the work of an early years teacher".
44. Dr Pugh told the Sub-committee: "The majority
of early years practitioners are not teachers, and although many
are very experienced, lack of funding means that not all are sufficiently
well qualified. As recommended by the Early Childhood Education
Forum and the recent review of playgroups (1999), all managers
of nurseries or playgroups should be qualified to graduate level
or equivalent, and all practitioners to NVQ Level 3".
The Early Years Curriculum Group supported the drive towards establishing
a graduate teacher in every setting "in order for that setting
to be managed by a professional who is sufficiently trained to
understand the complexities of how children learn, how areas of
learning progress and how to respond to individual and collective
learning needs. This is a challenging and complex task and needs
high intellectual ability".
The Early Years Curriculum Group argued further that "the
second and other adults in every setting should be qualified.
It is not acceptable that at such a crucial perhaps the
most crucialtime in a child's life, that their learning
is planned, taught and managed by unqualified adults".
45. The current enormous diversity and complexity
of the qualifications base for Early Years workers was evident.
Witnesses talked about the low qualification base of the Early
Years workforce, the 'muddle' of training options available and
the difficulty for employers and parents to make sense of the
different types and levels of practitioner training found in Early
Ms Margaret Hodge, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
for Employment and Equal Opportunities, outlined the scale of
"I think it is going
to take time to get to our objective. We will not achieve this
overnight. It is going to take time partly because of the diversity
of the settings that are out there and with which we are working,
and partly because of the lack of qualifications and training
within the workplace. 44 per cent of people in the last workforce
survey we had, which was in 1998 and we are just about to commission
a new one, did not have an appropriate qualification, one in four
in pre-schools do not, 70 per cent of child minders do not. One
in five private nurseries do not. Those are the figures. There
is a huge task ahead of us in supporting and training those who
work with young children".
46. There remains a substantial unmet need for training.
The Pre-School Learning Alliance referred to a survey carried
out by the Local Government Management Board which had found that
more than 67 per cent of pre-schools/playgroups reported that
paid staff had significant training needs. "The survey also
showed that more than half of the pre-schools and playgroups in
the sample reported that lack of time and lack of funding were
constraints on undertaking training. In addition, only 22.5 per
cent of pre-schools/playgroups had a training budget, with the
average annual value being only £380. The cost to students
of undertaking training can be considerable. As mature students,
pre-school workers are unable to access vocational training on
the same terms as 16-19 year olds".
47. There was also evidence that for many practitioners,
particularly in the private and voluntary sectors, there was poor
access to many training opportunities because of inflexible course
delivery and cost.
Over time, this situation has resulted in a poorly qualified work
force with limited access to further professional development.
In their background report on the United Kingdom for the OECD
Thematic Review of Early Childhood Education and Care, Dr Tony
Bertram and Professor Christine Pascal wrote:
"There remains a shortfall
in the numbers of qualified early childhood practitioners coming
into the profession. This is a central concern as the development
of the services and the commitment to quality will crucially depend
on the ability of the profession to attract and retain high quality
and well trained staff. Access to well articulated, coherent and
appropriate training opportunities for many early years practitioners
is improving, and cross sector training opportunities are now
available at every level, from basic vocational training to higher
48. Witnesses welcomed the increased Government investment
in Early Years training which was being planned and led largely
by the local Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships.
Ms Hodge told the Sub-committee: "We need to invest in training
.... We deliberately this year put £8 million into establishing
the training programme around the early learning and Foundation
Stages. Next year there is £13.5 million in the Standards
Fund to that purpose, not enough but it is a good start. A lot
of money is being focussed on the private and voluntary sector".
49. The establishment of the Early Years National
Training Organisation and the development of a national 'climbing
frame' of Early Years qualifications were seen by witnesses to
mark a major achievement in the development of a more highly qualified
and professional Early Years work force. The need for flexible
training options, with open access and affordability, which took
practitioners from NVQ 1 through to postgraduate level was a key
theme in much of the evidence on training. In its written evidence
the Early Years National Training Organisation (EYNTO) told the
Sub-committee that the qualifications level within the sector
is low: "the Early Years NTO believes that new regulations
are needed which require everyone working in the sector to undergo
an introductory training course within six months of joining the
sector so that everyone achieves a Level 2 or 3 qualification
within five years of joining the sector".
The EYNTO pointed out one of the problems in expanding training:
"Childcare workers are keen to undertake trainingbut
the single biggest barrier they perceive is time. This is a structural
barrier which prevents women with family responsibilities (the
majority of the childcare workforce), from accessing training
on a long term basis. If the professionalism of the workforce
is to be increased, therefore, this issue needs to be addressed".
50. The need to increase access for all staff to
continuing professional development opportunities was stressed
by many respondents, who argued that this in-service training
was as vital as initial training requirements, and should be more
equitably available across the sectors. In her review of the evidence
submitted to the Sub-committee, Ms Eva Lloyd of the National Early
Years Network (NEYN) told the Sub-committee: "Virtually all
respondents stress the need for opportunities for continuing professional
development for all early years staff during the working day and
the need for accreditation of prior learning and experience. NEYN
calls for the establishment of INSET days for all early years
workers, equivalent to those for teachers. Regular opportunities
must be provided for in-service training and support from specialist
advisers. A realistic investment in training is recommended by
the majority of respondents".
51. We recommend that there should be continued
Government investment in training at all levels in the Early Years
52. We recommend that there should be national
targets for training so that within ten years all Early Years
practitioners have appropriate and specialist levels of training,
with all heads of centres, nurseries and playgroups being at graduate
level or equivalent and all other early childhood workers at NVQ
Level 3 or equivalent.
53. We recommend that all training should be adequately
funded, and in particular, that there should be Government grants
for mature and part-time students, and better support for those
54. We recommend that all early childhood workers
should have access to continuous professional development as of
right. Qualified Early Years teachers should visit the settings
outside the home to work alongside practitioners to assist their
55. We recommend that further education, higher
education and other training institutions should develop more
flexible training options (such as distance learning, workplace
training and modularised training), to increase access across
56. We recommend that Early Years Development
and Childcare Partnerships should provide positive leadership
and financial support to make training more accessible and affordable
for the private and voluntary sectors.
57. We recommend that higher education institutions,
in conjunction with the Teacher Training Agency, should develop
Early Years training options at higher levels (postgraduate) to
enhance the Early Years trainer work force. We recommend that
the Teacher Training Agency should sponsor places on Early Years
58. We recommend that the Early Years National
Training Organisation should take a strong lead in the dissemination
of the new Early Years qualifications 'climbing frame' to ensure
that employers and parents understand what the range of qualifications