News Analysis: Qualifications review launched with call for evidence

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The early education and childcare qualifications review, launched on 28 October, is aiming to strengthen the training, qualifications and career opportunities of all those working in the sector.

Children's minister Sarah Teather has asked Professor Cathy Nutbrownfrom the University of Sheffield to lead the review, alongside a panelof early years and childcare experts.

Professor Nutbrown has also launched a call for evidence so that earlyyears workers can give their own views about the training andqualifications they need.

The Government also wants to hear from parents, trainers andemployers.

Professor Nutbrown will focus on improving the confidence, knowledge andskills of people who work with families on all aspects of children'sdevelopment.

The review is part of a range of Government measures to improve earlyyears education and childcare, particularly for disadvantagedchildren.

Ministers say that evidence shows a clear link between a highlyqualified and skilled early years workforce and children'sdevelopment.

The review will focus on:

- the content of early years and childcare qualifications and trainingcourses to improve the skills, knowledge and experience of early yearsprofessionals

- career progression and motivation

- the development of a range of qualifications for early years workersat every stage in their career

- the high standards and quality that are needed to meet the needs ofchildren, families, workers and employers in the early years sector

- raising the status of early education and childcare.

Professor Nutbrown said, 'It's vital that we have a professional,diverse and confident workforce who feel equipped to do their job well.They are often the unsung heroes of the children's workforce -responsible for the care, education, development and wellbeing of overthree million young children.

'I will look at how to improve the rigour and quality of currenttraining and qualifications, and create a clear route for careerprogression.'

Ms Teather said, 'It's essential that people working in the early yearshave the right skills and training to give children the best start inlife. One of the most important factors affecting a child's healthydevelopment is the quality of the education and childcare they receivein their earliest years.

'We want to make sure young children are starting school ready and ableto learn.'

Anne Longfield, chief executive of 4Children, said, 'Great earlyeducation and childcare is delivered by professionals who feel valuedand motivated. In a sector that is full of innovation, it is crucialthat we develop the right range of qualifications that both meets theneeds of the sector and provides the career progression that will ensurewe get the best people - and that we keep them. We need to showprofessionals working in early years that they are valued andrespected.

'We welcome Professor Nutbrown's independent review as indicative of theGovernment's commitment to the foundation years. Practitioners gain muchwisdom from delivering daily care to children, and parents and familiesknow the day-to-day realities of what children need from those whoprovide services, which is why it is important that as manyprofessionals and parents make their voices heard during thisconsultation.'

NUTBROWN REVIEW: TERMS OF REFERENCE

The Review will consider:

What the content of early years and childcare qualifications andtraining courses should include to give the workforce the appropriateskills, knowledge and experience to work in the EYFS. In particular:

- Training needs linked to EYFS response: to review content of trainingin view of the two-and-ahalf year progress check and targeted trainingto strengthen practitioners' confidence around interaction withparents.

- Coherence and inclusivity: how best to develop a suite ofqualifications which is coherent, meets the needs of learners (at alllevels and stages) and promotes diversity, professionalism andmotivation in the workforce.

- Clear career pathways: how best to improve the progression structurefor qualifications through higher level education and training

- Standards: how to ensure qualifications and training are of aconsistently high standard

- Status: how the review will contribute to raising the status of earlyeducation and childcare, with newer qualifications acquiring theequivalence of those like the NNEB

EXPERT PANEL

Nicola Amies, director, Bright Horizons

Michael Freeston, director of quality improvement, Pre-School LearningAlliance

Julian Grenier. early years adviser, Tower Hamlets

Tricia Maynard, director of the Centre for Children, Families andCommunities, Canterbury Christ Church University

June O'Sullivan, chief executive, London Early Years Foundation

Helen Perkins, head of early years, Solihull College

Wendy Scott (TACTYC), Association for the Professional Development ofEarly Years Educators

Chelle Davison, joint chair, SEFDEY (Sector Endorsed Foundation DegreeEarly Years)

Sue Robb, head of early years, 4 Children

Ann Headley, former adviser/inspector in Bradford local authority

Megan Pacey, chief executive, Early Education.

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