Standards unveiled for new early years qualifications

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The long-awaited standards for Early Years Educators and Early Years Teachers have been published.

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Early Years Educator qualifications will equip practitioners to provide 'purposeful play opportunities ' according to new standards published by the National College for Teaching and Leadership.

At the same time the Government also published the new standards for Early Years Teachers,  which it is hoped will raise the status of graduate practice. From September, Early Years Teacher trainees will have to meet the same entry criteria as classroom teachers.

In the Government’s accompanying response to the consultation on the Early Years Educator criteria it says that it recognises play is ‘vital’ . However, it also states ‘We have not amended the Early years Educator criteria to specifically include play. The criteria are designed to allow for a range of pedagogical approaches’.

The new Level 3 standards outline the criteria for six requirements which include supporting and promoting children’s early education and development, planning and providing effective care, teaching and learning that enables children to progress and prepares them for school and safeguarding and promoting the health, safety and welfare of children.

Eight requirements underpin the Early Years Teachers’ standards, spanning promoting good progress and outcomes by children, adapting education and care to respond to the strengths and needs of all children and making accurate and productive use of assessment. The latter requirement includes effectively undertaking the progress check at two.

Childcare and education minister Elizabeth Truss said it is important for parents to have a choice of different approaches in early years. ‘This gives professionals the freedom and flexibility to deploy a range of methods and to decide how best to structure children’s activities throughout the day.’

Charlie Taylor, chief executive of the National College for Teaching and Leadership said that the new criteria would ensure that the qualifications were benchmarks for quality. ‘The new Early Years Educator criteria and Teachers’ standards will help to ensure children are ready to make the most of the opportunities available to them,’ he added.

At 4Children, chief executive Anne Longfield said that the Government had responded to the representation made by the sector, through the consultation process, requesting clarity and focus on the essential aspects of training a professional to support children in early learning and development.

She said, ‘It is encouraging that messages surrounding the significance of attachment and importance of play opportunities have been recognised within the Early Years Educator qualification and we would hope to see the importance of play reflected in the training of Early Years Teachers too.

‘Today’s announcement also helps to identify those areas of policy in need of further clarification. These areas include the potential differential between Qualified Teacher Status and Early Years Teachers; the quality of teaching and system of assessment of the qualification and the placement of students.’

She added, ‘Whilst further fine tuning will be needed to ensure that the reforms meet the intended objectives, 4Children remains optimistic about the potential these qualifications hold to attract bright and ambitious people to the sector and help win the trust and respect of parents as well as other professionals who work with children and families. "

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