Apprenticeship trailblazer members walk out

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Three members of the Government's 'trailblazer' group for early years apprenticeships have left and been replaced, amid complaints the employers' group 'lacked democracy'.

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Busy Bees and Bright Horizons, two of the UK's biggest nursery chains, have stood down, while nursery owner and training company director Ross Midgley has also departed.

Cheryl Hadland, of Tops Day Nurseries (the Hadland group), has relinquished her position as chair, though remains a member of the group, and been replaced by her former deputy, Chrissy Meleady.

One insider who wished to remain anonymous said, 'I wasn't convinced there was much of a democratic process going on. The lack of democracy was ... evident in the questions asked in the consultations (carried out by the group) and the way the answers were interpreted.

'I think part of the problem was that there wasn't that much for us to do (we started with the EYE qualification, so the job was largely done for us).'

Other current members are also understood to be unhappy with the way decisions were made.

But Ms Hadland told Nursery World, 'We'd done the job for EYE. The target was to deliver the standard. It was a heck of a lot of work. The group still has some of the biggest players in the country. I totally believe in the trailblazer process.'

The Co-operative Group and several smaller employers are to join.

Ms Meleady, now group chair, said, 'We are really excited about the new standards going forward. There was much discussion and debate in the group. Some of the debate didn't suit everyone and accordingly some people decided to step down and we thank them for their expertise but our goals remain the same.'

Following the publishing of the Level 3 standard last week, the group will now work on an assessment strategy, as well as applying to work on other apprenticeship standards.