EXCLUSIVE: Early Years Educator course funding faces axe

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Funding for some Early Years Educator courses is set to disappear once T-levels come in, Nursery World can reveal.

t-level

The introduction of T-Levels could see the end of some EYE courses

The Department for Education has confirmed that ‘as T-levels are introduced, we expect to withdraw funding from other Level 3 qualifications [that] do not serve a distinct purpose’.

Early years sources say this is likely to mean the full-time college-based version of the EYE qualification will not be funded.

A DfE spokeswoman told Nursery World, ‘In future, we expect funding for 16- to 19-year-old students studying Level 3 qualifications to largely be for T-levels and A-level programmes. As T-levels are introduced, we expect to withdraw funding from other Level 3 qualifications that do not meet quality expectations, serve a distinct purpose, or support students’ progression.’

The spokeswoman also said that the DfE has ‘committed to carrying out a review of post-16 qualifications at Level 3 and below, excluding A-levels and GCSEs. The aim is to simplify the current qualification landscape. For those Level 3 qualifications that remain, however, we do not expect to change the existing funding arrangements.’

Nursery World also understands that a DfE official told a group of stakeholders last autumn that Government policy for all vocational courses where there is a T-level would be to remove the equivalent Level 3 qualification.

A source said, ‘The whole direction of travel since the Sainsbury review [into skills] is to simplify the vocational qualifications on offer. The ultimate aim is to replace existing Level 3 college-based full-time delivery with the TQ – the qualification in the T-level. This will get rid of the EYE for college-based courses.

‘We are not going to see the EYE disappear completely because the work-based qualification will still be available.’ This is commonly delivered as an apprenticeship.

The DfE has said that the new Education and Childcare T-level would give students a licence to practise at Level 3. Nursery World understands the DfE has since said the new technical qualification, which is not yet available, should meet the EYE criteria which allow this.

This technical qualification will come in as part of the Education and Childcare T-level in 2020, which spans the birth to 19 age range and takes two years. Funding is not expected to be withdrawn until T-levels are rolled out fully, which may not be until 2024, the source added.

The EYE was introduced in 2014 following a sector-wide review of early years qualifications, one of which was the Children and Young People’s Workforce Diploma, which also spanned the 0-19 age range. In her report on qualifications, Cathy Nutbrown said the sector felt this was ‘too broad’ with not enough focus on the development of babies and young children.

The removal of Level 3 qualifications is also likely to cause concern in other sectors, according to the Association of Employment and Learning Providers. AELP chief executive Mark Dawe said, ‘There have been enough indications to show the Government appears to be giving serious consideration to the idea [of scrapping Level 3 qualifications where there are T-levels]. But this would be a big mistake and likely lead to failure.

‘Well-taught alternative qualifications are available and this is another example where social mobility and student access could be damaged by once again officials looking for what they think is a neat solution.’

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