New degree-level apprenticeship standards on the way

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A raft of high level apprenticeship standards covering leadership, quality improvement, equality and wellbeing are being developed.


Five new standards, up to level 7, were given the go-ahead by the Government last week as part of its trailblazers programme.

Last year, the trailblazers group, which is chaired by Chrissy Meleady and also has the Pre-School Learning Alliance, NDNA and nursery groups as members, devised a level 3 apprenticeship standard (which contains the Early Years Educator standard) which was accepted and published by the Government last year.

Now, the new list has been approved for development by skills minister Nick Boles, following a formal and informal consultation process with ‘several thousand’ employers in the sector, Ms Meleady said.

The new standards under development are:

  • Early Years Services Leader (equivalent to level 6)

Details: A manager/leadership qualification to cover working with families, business management and finance, compliance with legislation, and managing different services simultaneously

  • Early Years Quality Improvement Leader (equivalent level 7)

Details: Designed to have a focus on quality relating to the EYFS, working with families, developing visionary practice, reflective practice, leadership

  • Early Years Health & Well-being Leader (with Specialist pathways e.g. sport, nutrition) (equivalent to level 4/5)

Details: According to Ms Meleady, this came about because of concern from the sector about health issues including nutrition, diet and obesity, emotional health and brain health. The practitioner would work with a child's family, and staff within the setting, on areas such as changing bad habits and maintaing general wellbeing. The course aims to help deal with these issues early in a child's life.

  • Assistant and Lead Equalities Named Coordinator (two roles, equivalent to level 3 and level 4/5 respectively)

Details: Involves supporting compliance with the equality act, human rights legislation, adherence to British values, inclusion, including SEN, and diversity.

Ms Meleady, also the chief executive of charity Early Years Equality, said the provisional deadline for these standards was next spring, while each apprenticeship would provisionally take around 18 months, though she emphasised that the standards were still in the early stages of development.

Nick Boles told the Early Years Apprenticeship Trailblazer Group: ‘I am delighted that the employers ...[are] extending their work, alongside more than a thousand of the country’s leading employers in designing new top quality apprenticeships in the early years sector.

‘Giving employers in the early years sector the power to design apprenticeships means that apprentices graduate with the skills they require for the job they want and businesses get the talent they need to grow.’

The above apprenticeships are part of the most recent phase of the trailblazer scheme. The group has already developed standards for an assistant and senior early years practitioner (equivalent to levels 2 and 3), and early years centre leader (equivalent to level 5), which are expected to be published later this year.

In addition, Ms Meleady has been contributing to the formulation of the Children, Young People and Families Worker Apprenticeship Early Intervention and Family Support Early Years Pathway (level 5/6 equivalent) – which covers child sexual exploitation and multi-agency working.

Ms Meleady said, ‘Our sector has been given approval now for a suite of ten apprenticeships, within which are included specialist occupational pathways. We are one of the only sectors that has been chosen to develop standards at degree level.

'The group will be working with the sector to ensure that these frameworks meet employers existing and future needs.’

Stella Ziolkowski, NDNA’s Director of Quality and Workforce Development, a member of the group, added, ‘It is excellent news for the sector to have specialist apprenticeships for roles and a range of progression opportunities available to them.’


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