'More Great Childcare': Elizabeth Truss backs Teach First in early years

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The minister for education and childcare said the Department for Education would consider extending the Teach First scheme to the early years, a recommendation made by Policy Exchange, at an event hosted by the think tank to discuss the Government's response to the Nutbrown Review.

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Answering a delegate’s question about how changing ratios would raise practitioners' salaries, the Minister for Education and Childcare Elizabeth Truss said she had read with interest the Policy Exchange’s proposal to extend Teach First to the early years and that it is something the Department for Education would be looking at.

The think tank’s report, ‘Quality childcare: Improving early years childcare’, proposes extending the Teach First scheme to attract high-calibre graduates to early years settings that serve disadvantaged areas. Currently the scheme is only open to primary and secondary schools.

Concerns were also raised by delegates at the event that the requirement for all early years educators to have a minimum grade C in GCSE English and maths could mean practitioners who are good at their job are overlooked.

John Woodward, managing director of Busy Bees Benefits, asked the minister how being good with children could be measured as he revealed that some of the staff in their settings do not hold GCSE English and maths, but had passed Busy Bees’ entry tests in English and maths.

The education and childcare minister’s proposals for ‘traditional style’ nursery classes and structured activities for children as young as two also received a mixed reaction.

Speaking at the Policy Exchange event of the same name as the Government’s response, 'More Great Childcare’, Ms Truss said how the DfE, along with Ofsted, believes teacher-led groups with structured activities are a good thing for children.

She went on to say how two is a crucial age where children are learning the structure of language and vocabulary, however she later added that the Government doesn’t intend to get children reading at age two and three and said that activities should be age appropriate.

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