Significant strain on early years settings

A big drop in the number of learners qualifying with a Level 3 between 2014 and 2016 has put a ‘significant strain on early years settings’, according to awarding bodies and training providers.

An analysis of Ofqual figures by awarding body CACHE shows that between 2014 and 2016, the number of students finishing Level 3 courses halved, from 35,275 to just 17,530.

Figures for the third quarter of each year – when the majority of certificates are awarded for completed courses – show an even larger drop of around 55 per cent, from 18,000 to 8,050.

Functional skills were removed as an alternative to GCSEs in September 2014 with the new Level 3 Early Years Educator (EYE) qualification. Following this, functional skills were removed from the early years apprenticeship framework, leaving GCSEs as the principal entry (later changed to exit) requirement. The GCSE requirement was eventually removed in March this year.

While training providers acknowledged that since the GCSE requirement was removed in March, the number starting the Level 3 EYE has risen, many said there is a new set of challenges to overcome, particularly with the introduction of the 30 hours.

Suzi Gray, technical advisor at City & Guilds, shared her concerns. In an online comment piece for Nursery World, talking about the 30 hours, she said:

“Many employers will have to recruit more staff to fulfil the increasing demand, yet how is a sector which is already struggling to recruit going to meet this skills gap in time?

“NDNA had gathered and shared evidence from our workforce surveys in 2015 and 2016 with the DfE which demonstrated the huge impact that this policy was having on the GCSE requirement.

“It is clear that higher qualified staff deliver high quality early years experiences and the GCSE policy clearly worked against this. NDNA campaigned on allowing functional skills to continue to form part of the level 3 qualification, but to also provide a route for those who wished to undertake GCSE as a progression to Early Years Teacher.

“We are extremely pleased that the DfE chose to listen to the sector and implement the change to the GCSE requirement. However, it will take a number of years to rectify the damage caused.  Our workforce survey findings were highlighted in the DfE’s Workforce Strategy and we will be pleased to work with the DfE to ensure they listen to the sector in the development and roll out of this.”

07 Oct 2017

Play in Parks: The legacy of a regional support framework

As many of you will be aware, Birmingham PlayCare Network will always be found in the park during the summer months, offering a variety of play activities for all children across the city, stimulating fun, creativity and enjoyment in the great outdoors.

With up to 100 children passing through our Play in Parks sessions on a daily basis, it’s natural that some children will continue to visit for the duration of BPCN’s stay at a particular park, whilst some may only visit once.

Considering the volume of children using the facilities spanning across parks throughout the city, it’s fair to say that it would be almost impossible for all BPCN staff members to remember every child’s name and face, although we do our best!

However, the history and legacy of Birmingham PlayCare Network’s Play in Parks sessions came full circle this year. During the induction and training process of this summer’s playworkers, the team were in the office getting to know the core staff whilst completing administrative duties.

It was during this particular process that one of our new playworkers, Leanne commented on the large canvas photos that decorate our office space; Leanne recognised one of the boys as her brother.

As you can imagine, this was somewhat of a shock to all in the office, and after making some staff feel a little old it also came to light that Leanne had herself enjoyed some Play in Parks sessions with her brother many years ago, as she now joins the team facilitating the programme.

Her younger brother in the picture, who we estimated to be around nine years of age at the time, is now embarking on his first year at university. Leanne remembers the time she spent in the park as it was her first opportunity to experiment with making a controlled fire and she discussed how her brother had gone back every day with more of his friends.

We are so proud to see that, after so many years, the children we supported through providing play opportunities have grown into adults, and even better still, some now have an interest in giving something back to the initiative by representing Birmingham PlayCare Network, supporting future generations.

05 Oct 2017

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