The current early years qualifications system is not systematically equipping practitioners with the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to give babies and young children high quality experiences. Some early childhood qualifications lack rigour and depth, and quality is not consistent.
London, July 2012 - Qualifications for childminders and nursery staff are failing to provide the knowledge and skills needed to care and teach young children, a Government-commissioned review says.
The current system is too confusing, inconsistent and “lacks rigour”, according to a report by Professor Cathy Nutbrown, who called for a major revamp of the system, with all staff educated to A-level standard.
Students will also have to have English and maths to GCSE level before they begin an early education or childcare course.
Prof Nutbrown, an expert in early childhood education from Sheffield University, warns that “worrying trends” have developed in early years qualifications.
“I was concerned to find a considerable climate of mistrust in current early years qualifications, and anxiety, which I share on my reading of the evidence, that standards have in some respects declined in recent years.
“I am concerned that the current early years qualifications system is not systematically equipping practitioners with the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to give babies and young children high quality experiences.”
Under the current system, nurseries and early years groups must be managed by someone who has a relevant Level 3 qualification - equivalent to A-levels, and at least half of the staff have to be educated to Level 2 - equivalent to GCSE at grade C or above.
However, Prof Nutbrown argues that Level 2 is not good enough, and someone who only holds a qualification to this standard should not be considered qualified.
She recommends that Level 3 should become the minimum standard, with everyone working with pre-school children qualified to this level by September 2022.
Level 3 qualifications should also be tightened up to include more child development and play, special educational needs and disability among other topics.
Her report adds: “As a country we need to raise our expectations of what it means to work with young children, and attract the best people into the workforce.
“Literacy and mathematical abilities are essential for anyone working with our young children, so I am recommending that students must already hold Level 2 qualifications in English and mathematics before they begin a Level 3 early education or childcare course.”
Prof Nutbrown's final recommendations come just months after she warned in her interim report that colleges demand more qualifications for students training to look after animals than for those who will care for babies.
For more, see the independent.co.uk and telegraph.co.uk.