Childcare apprenticeships panel has just one PVI representative

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Members of the expert panel which will be vetting new early years apprenticeships have been announced.

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Dandelion Education won Nursery of the Year

The Childcare and Education panel will soon be scrutinising the new Level 3 apprenticeship standard, which was submitted in October.

The panel of eight has just one PVI early years representative, Dandelion Education, which won Nursery Of The Year in Nursery World’s recent awards.

The remaining five panel members are from schools, some of which have nurseries, including independent school King’s College, and universities which offer early years degrees.

The panel, which comes under the remit of the Institute of Apprenticeships, will be chaired by Sir Nick Weller, CEO of the Dixons Academies Trust, Bradford, which runs eight secondary and primary schools in Bradford.

With 48 per cent of childcare places delivered by PVI settings, sector bodies have said the panel is unrepresentative.

Stella Ziolkowski, NDNA’s Director of Quality and Workforce Development, said, ‘This panel must represent the early years sector and be more inclusive. We don’t want the standards to lean more towards academic education and less towards play.

‘We would like more nurseries with outstanding, high-quality provision to come forward to be members of this panel and to really engage with this process.’

Michael Freeston, the Pre-school Learning Alliance’s director of quality improvement, said, ‘We know from our experiences with local authority schools forums that a lack of early years representation – and particularly PVI representation – on panels like these can have a real detrimental impact on the decision-making process.

‘It is concerning that there only appears to be one non-maintained early years representative on the panel at the moment. Not only does that put a lot of pressure on that individual, but it also seems a flawed approach to rely on one person with one set of experiences to represent the whole of what is a very broad and diverse workforce.

‘We hope that Institute for Apprenticeships will look again at the make-up of this panel and ensure that PVI early years sector is adequately represented.’

Dandelion, an outdoor nursery, currently has two apprentices and has been running apprenticeship training for two years. It is currently ‘putting together [its] own training programme’, which will include executive function training, said manager Emma Harwood.

Ms Harwood, who sits on the panel, said, ‘I think the appointment is a direct result of the Nursery World awards – they said they were looking for someone to represent the PVI sector.

‘The reason we said yes is that we feel really strongly about qualifications in the early years.’

The panel will be responsible for recommending whether an apprenticeship standard is ready to be finalised, or if it needs to go back to the early years trailblazer group, currently chaired by Busy Bees, which is tasked with developing them.

It also has oversight of standards for other areas of education, such as for youth workers and teaching assistants.

Early years standards at levels 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are all expected to be delivered before October 2018.

The panel members, revealed on Monday, are:

  • Professor Jean-Noel Ezingeard, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Manchester Metropolitan University (Vice-Chair)
  • Dr Alan Lee, CEO, BEST Schools Trust
  • Dr Lyn Trodd, Dean of the School of Education, University of Hertfordshire
  • Jo Morgan, Chief Executive, Shaw Education Trust
  • Rachel Sandby-Thomas, Registrar, University of Warwick
  • Emma Harwood, Nursery Manager, Dandelion Education
  • Andrew Halls, Headmaster, Kings College School
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