Ministers have agreed to fund Skills for Care and Development to develop an interim framework to include Early Years Educator (EYE) qualifications, but have set a requirement that this should contain a new GCSE entry requirement in maths and English.
However, this is at odds with the existing framework, which by law requires all Level 3 apprentices to have achieved Level 2 functional skills, or equivalent, in maths and English by the end of their apprenticeship.
The existing framework - part of the Apprentice Skills Children and Learning Act/the Specification of Apprenticeship Standards for England (SASE) - predates the EYE qualification and consequently needs to be adapted, so that there is funding for EYE until the new employer-led standard is approved early next year.
The current framework will cease when the Deregulation Bill becomes law later this year.
The SASE requires frameworks to give apprentices a choice of ways to meet the maths and English requirements by the end of their apprenticeship, including through functional skills.
Training providers argue that stipulating that apprentices must have GCSE English and maths before they start their apprenticeships is unnecessary as the EYFS already stops EYEs counting as Level 3, unless they have GCSE maths and English.
Director of PBD Training Ross Midgley, who sits on the early years trailblazer group tasked with devising the standards for the new early years apprenticeship, argues that the current arrangements should stay in place as this is only a short-term extension. He warned that adding in the requirements for GCSEs on entry could, in his view, be unlawful, as well as bring Level 3 recruitment to a stop and leave Level 2 qualifiers with no progression and no job.
'Every time we write to ministers, we get a standard reply saying that EYEs need to have good maths and English skills. Nobody in the sector disagrees with this - but what we can't seem to get across is that the EYFS changes already have already raised the bar,' he said.
'Cathy Nutbrown said that maths and English would be a distraction from EYE studies Where this is the case, employers and training providers can be trusted to recognise it - they have lots of experience in initial assessment and no interest in setting people up to fail. But it is patronising to apply this to everyone. A blanket entry requirement will exclude many who are perfectly capable of studying for GCSEs and an apprenticeship at the same time.'
- Look out for our Training Today special in the 30 June issue of Nursery World, with features on apprenticeships, Early Years Teacher Status and CPD.