DfE early years boss defends Workforce Strategy pledges

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The Department for Education (DfE) says it is ‘making good progress’ on the commitments outlined in its Early Years Workforce Strategy, with work currently under way on the SEND qualification.

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Tulip Siddiq, chair of the APPG on Childcare and Early Education

The Department for Education (DfE) says it is ‘making good progress’ on the commitments outlined in its Early Years Workforce Strategy, with work currently under way on the SEND qualification.

Speaking at a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Childcare and Early Education earlier this month, the DfE’s director of early years and childcare Michelle Dyson cited the consultation on the Level 2 qualification launched in December, which has yet to receive many responses, and the development of the Level 3 apprenticeship standards by the trailblazer group.

However, a number of commitments in the strategy have not been met or have been delayed. They include a review of the Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT) routes, which was meant to take place last year, and a report from the ‘task and finish group’ of early years sector stakeholders on the factors influencing the number of men in children and possible solutions to increase this, due at the end of last year. The group, which met for the first time in November 2017, will now present its findings to the DfE in April.

SEND QUALIFICATION

When Nursery World asked Ms Dyson about progress of other commitments, including the overdue review and proposals to let early years teachers lead Reception classes, she said, ‘We’ve got new ministers, we need to discuss these issues with them and come back on that.’

However, the department’s head of quality and outcomes for early years Charlotte Clarke revealed the DfE is working on the SEND qualification.

The DfE previously said in December that there would be no further consultations on commitments in the Workforce Strategy. Neither Ms Dyson nor Ms Clarke were able to confirm this.

The SEND qualification is one of a number of actions within the strategy designed to support staff to offer quality provision. The DfE says it will work with organisations specialising in special educational needs and disabilities to develop a qualification, in 2018, for early years staff who want to specialise in SEND.

WORKFORCE IN LONDON

Other speakers at the meeting of the APPG, chaired by Tulip Siddiq, MP for Hampstead and Kilburn (pictured), the focus of which was the early years workforce, included the deputy mayor of London for education and childcare Joanne McCartney, who spoke about the Mayor’s early years hubs scheme.

Ms McCartney also revealed the Mayor’s office will be launching an early years leaders pilot programme, details of which will be published later. The three-year coaching programme will support setting leaders to increase their leadership skills, knowledge and business skills.

She said by 2019-2020, when the adult education budget is devolved to London, early years will ‘definitely be on the agenda’.

Ms McCartney went on to say that the Family and Childcare Trust has done some work for the Mayor’s office on the cost of childcare and sustainability in London. The research will be published shortly.

Also speaking at the meeting was Jamie Leith, co-founder of Manny & Me, a London-based childcare and education agency that is trying to encourage more men into the sector.

In April, Manny & Me, in collaboration with Cuckooz Nest, will open a co-working space with a crèche in Clerkenwell. Mr Leith said the aim is to get as balanced a workforce as possible by getting more men into childcare.

He said, ‘We spend 60 per cent of our day trying to think of more creative ways to get more men [into childcare and education]. My business partner and I come from a background in teaching and know how fulfilling working in childcare can be. The problem is that [this view] is not shared by the general populous.’

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