E-degree to focus on babies

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The first online early years foundation degree to focus on babies and toddlers is being launched by a Welsh university.

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The two-year, part-time course will be available from September from Glyndwr University in Wrexham, North Wales, aimed at experienced early years practitioners.

The programme was trialled partly online last year and has been popular with people working full-time in childcare. Students include nursery managers, childminders, a childminding network co-ordinator, children's centre managers, pre-school development workers and family workers.

Course leader Liz Sheen said, 'It's unique in a number of ways. It's not a distance learning course - it's what we call supported e-learning. We're constantly in contact with the students so they don't feel isolated. There is also a focus on babies and under-threes.'

Applicants for the course should have at least two years' experience of working with children from birth to five and be employed or working in a voluntary capacity with young children.

However, unlike with some foundation degrees, candidates do not have to work directly with children and are likely to be in a supervisory role.

The minimum entry requirement is a level 3 qualification in childcare and early years.

From September the programme will use Moodle, a web-learning environment, used by many universities and colleges.

But Ms Sheen stressed that prospective students should not be put off by the technology. She said, 'It's very simple and straightforward. If you have access to the internet, you'll be fine.'

There are no exams and the course is assessment-based with modules including brain development, attachment and how play influences learning.

Course fees are £600 a year. This is lower than many other foundation degree courses, because the programme is subsidised by the university.

Holly Love from Abergavenny will go into her second year of the foundation degree in September after hearing about the course in an internet childminding forum.

She was keen to continue training after completing a diploma in home-based childcare through distance learning, but lives in an isolated area and works full-time.

She said, 'Where I live in Monmouthshire there are no networks available. I wanted to carry on studying but I hadn't heard of any foundation degrees that were based on e-learning.'

Ms Love said she was attracted by the focus on under-fives and the convenience of doing a degree online.

FURTHER INFORMATION

To apply for the FdA The Learning and Development of Babies and Young Children, visit www.glyndwr.ac.uk or email e.sheen@glyndwr.ac.uk

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