The amount has been set at £2,000. The extension to 2.2 degrees comes as some courses are struggling to recruit sufficient numbers.
However, the amount paid for graduates with a first class degree has been slashed from £9,000 to £5,000. Those with a 2.1 degree will continue to receive £4,000. All eligible graduates can still claim up to £7,000 for course fees for early years initial teacher training.
A Department for Education spokesperson said, ‘We are making a significant investment in the early years sector and have worked closely with the profession to help raise its status – and as a result salaries have increased, numbers of qualified staff have risen, and a record number of providers are rated Good or Outstanding.
‘The number of graduates in the workforce continues to rise, and we want to see more trained graduates in these roles. That’s why we provide funding course fees and bursaries for eligible trainees, and are also supporting employers to help with their staff training costs. We continue to look at what more can be done to encourage talented staff to forge a career in the early years and this will be a key strand of our Workforce Strategy which will be published in 2016.’
The proportion of full day care staff with a degree or higher increased from 5 per cent to 13 per cent between 2008 and 2013.
Dr Eunice Lumsden, head of early years at the University of Northampton, warned that the lack of Qualified Teacher Status for EYTs continued to be an impediment to progress.
‘The ongoing investment in the Early Years Teacher is welcomed; they play a vital role in supporting improved outcomes for the youngest children. It is excellent to see bursaries continue and the extension, which presumably reflects the challenges in recruitment.
‘However, despite the desire to work in the nought to five age range, the fact that the pay and conditions are not aligned to QTS, though they have to meet all the same entry requirements, impacts on recruitment and morale. There also continues to be confusion in the sector about EYTs’ role, and if they want to work in the Foundation Stage in a maintained school they cannot use their professional title, rather they have to be known as instructors.
‘We look forward to seeing how the workforce review addresses these issues so that the graduate leaders with EYTS receive the recognition and employment conditions that reflect their qualification level and training.’
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said , ‘Given that the government is continuing to struggle to attract Early Years Teacher applicants – so much so that some courses are reportedly being forced to close – it’s not surprising that it has felt the need to extend the bursary scheme.
‘Despite the DfE’s insistence that Early Years Teacher Status is “equivalent” to Qualified Teacher Status, it remains nothing of the sort. EYTs do not benefit from the same terms and conditions, nor the pay, that their QTS peers enjoy, despite being required to meet the same entry requirements. It’s no wonder, then, that so many potential trainees are opting against this career route.
‘Unless the government faces up to this problem, and looks to develop a clear route to QTS for early years teacher trainees, the current recruitment crisis will only worsen.’