Anger at proposals to replace EYPs with EYTs

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Early Years Professionals say they feel sidelined by Government plans to replace them with Early Years Teachers.

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Ministers acknowledge that EYPs have helped improve the quality of early education, 'but public recognition of their status remains low'. They say they want more high-quality graduates to work in early years and that Early Years Teachers will build on the strengths of EYPS.

In an interview with Nursery World, minister Elizabeth Truss said, 'The early years teacher is going to be required to pass the same tests on literacy and numeracy as school teachers. We'll be setting that out in teacher standards - Charlie Taylor will be doing that in due course through the Teaching Agency.

'We also want to see more flexibility between early years teachers and primary teachers and we want to see more primary teachers in early years and vice versa.'

However, many EYPs doubt the change will lead to increased pay and professional recognition, particularly as EYTs will - like EYPs - not have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), meaning that they will not be entitled to the same pay and conditions as other teachers.

Claire Dent, (right), lead professional for the EYPS national committee in Prospect's Aspect Group, which represents EYPs, said they were 'very concerned about the change of title and can't see how they will suddenly be higher status. EYPS is already a well-trained, well-qualified workforce. This appears to be saying, we'll call you teachers, but you're still not quite as good as teachers, so you're not having QTS.'

She added, 'It's not very clear how EYPs will become Early Years Teachers. And what's the benefit for them of becoming Early Years Teachers? Re-badging EYPs as teachers doesn't give higher salaries or higher status.

'Schools will want to have QTS, because it ticks a box in their Ofsted requirements.'

Julie Dervey, an EYP from Hull in East Yorkshire, has just completed her final setting visit assessment, but is now 'devastated' about the plans to replace EYPS. She also fears that schools will be reluctant to take on EYPs in future.

She told Nursery World, 'I am certainly not alone in thinking that employers (particularly schools and foundation units) will prefer to employ EYTs above EYPs because the new training will incorporate appropriate use of relevant Teaching Standards.

'Indeed, I am employed at a LA nursery school and have been advised they are unlikely to ever employ an EYP even if they are awarded similar EYT status because of their distinct lack of access to "Teacher Training". However, they will welcome the new cohort of Early Years Teachers because they will have undergone specific teacher training to meet Teaching Standards for the age group.

'I think it is critical that the Government quickly agrees that EYPs are provided with free, fast-track training to ensure they too are qualified in the essential skills that ensure we are truly given equal status in both respect and financial reward, following intensive degree studies and the EYP assessment process.'

Alexandra Skvortsov runs Greetland Private Day Nursery in Halifax, West Yorkshire, and was among the first-ever cohort of EYPs in 2006.

Ms Skvortsov, who has two degrees and a Masters, chose EYPS instead of teacher training.

'An Early Years Teacher is still not a "proper teacher". It's the same thing as an EYP - it still won't have QTS. I don't see that EYT will have higher status, because it won't have the pay and conditions of teachers with QTS.

'I don't feel that being called a teacher rather than an Early Years Professional will improve the status in the eyes of parents. In fact, a lot of parents don't want us to be teachers - what we do as EYPs implies a more caring and holistic role.

'All the money that's being spent on the new teaching qualification could be spent on raising the profile of EYPs. We're the pedagogical specialists for children from birth to five. It seems like a waste of time and money.' She added that she would continue to call herself an EYP.

Barbara Kemp, who recently gained EYPS, is 'frustrated by the lack of understanding about the status, as well as the lack of financial reward.' She originally qualified as an NNEB, has a BA Honours degree in early education and childcare, and has worked in a nursery class in a primary school in south-west London for more than 20 years.

'I am contemplating adding QTS to my list of qualifications,' she said. 'Not because I want to be a teacher, but because that seems to be the only way my skills, expertise and many years of experience will be recognised. The education of very young children is a very specialist area. QTS may not be the best way forward, but isn't that why EYPS was introduced?

'When I started my training course, I was under the impression that I would be in demand for my expertise in young children - how wrong I was. The Government has already invested in early years experts, why are they trying to change it?'

She added, 'I'm wondering what I've qualified for, if I can't be a teacher. The assessment for the award of EYPS was extremely hard work - amazingly rigorous, not harder, not easier than teaching, but different. There are many aspects that are not relevant to teaching, but vital when dealing with pre-school children, and even KS1.'

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