Sector wins review of GCSE equivalents

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The Government has decided to review rules on GCSE equivalents after it emerged that they may disqualify childcare graduates from being able to count in ratios.

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Chrissy Meleady

Inconsistencies in Government guidance over the validity of exams from a company called Equivalency Testing, which are accepted by nearly 200 universities as equivalents to GCSEs, were highlighted by members of the sector in Nursery World this week.

Chrissy Meleady, of Early Years Equality met with Department for Education civil servants on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

Ms Meleady called the meeting ‘very productive’, adding that the trailblazer group is grateful that the ministers … ‘have listened to employers and the wider sector'.

She added, ‘We are hopeful that the review will not be a protracted one and will be premised upon seeking solutions.'

A spokesman for the DfE told Nursery World, ’We are reviewing the rules around equivalent qualifications and will report the outcome in due course.’

The confusion came in the wake of Government guidance, which states that ‘to count in the ratios at Level 3, graduates must also have achieved GCSEs in English and maths at grade C or above'. Equivalency Testing equivalents are not an accepted alternative for the purpose of ratios.

However many universities currently allow candidates onto childcare courses with the Equivalency Testing exams as alternatives to GCSEs, based on contradictory government guidance saying they are allowed.

The rules affect anyone with this type of GCSE equivalent who started a qualification at Level 3 or above on or after 1 September 2014. If a candidate already has a qualification taken before this date, which allows them to count in ratio at level 3, they will not be affected.

Ian Barron, vice-chair of the national Early Childhood Studies Degrees Network, explained earlier this week that early years initial teacher training providers, for example, can choose to accept evidence from equivalency tests, but equivalency tests will not be considered equivalent to GCSEs for the purpose of inclusion in ratios. ‘Thus someone could legitimately qualify as an EYT [at level 6] but not be eligible for inclusion in the ratios as qualified,’ he said.

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