Apprenticeships panel appoints Eunice Lumsden following criticism over lack of sector experience

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A panel which approves apprenticeship standards for the childcare sector has appointed a leading early years specialist.


Eunice Lumsden, Head of Early years at the University of Northampton, will sit on the Education and Childcare route panel after being appointed by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

The other members of the panel, which is chaired by the head of a special school Mary Isherwood, come from schools, universities and colleges. Dandelion Education, a PVI nursery, had been a panel member until May this year.

One of the panel’s next tasks will be to get the Level 2 standard, which is currently being devised by a level 2 trailblazer group, ready for September.

The standard needs to be in place then because the current Level 2 apprenticeship contains an old qualification which will stop being full and relevant for new starters.

Also in the in-tray are to scrutinise standards for the childcare apprenticeships currently being devised at levels 5 and 6.

Dr Lumsden sat on the expert reference group which worked with the DfE to devise the level 2 qualification criteria, as well as working on the Early Years Professional Status and Early Years Teacher Status standards. A social worker for 20 years before moving into early years academia, she is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. 

She said ‘It’s my professional and personal mission to raise the profile of early childhood – not just the importance of the early years for our youngest children and their families, but also the value of those people who are gaining qualifications in order to professionally care for those children.

‘I’m looking forward to working with the Institute to support the development of apprenticeships in the Education and Childcare field that have children at their heart and reflect the nuances of Early Years care and education.’

Dr Lumsden’s appointment follows the resignation of the chair of the Level 3 trailblazer group, Busy Bees’ Fay Gibbin, in 2018, because of disputes with the panel over the Level 3 standard. At the time, Ms Gibbin said ‘We are stepping down because we truly believe it should be an employer-led process and unfortunately this has not been the case.’

A source told Nursery World then that the panel ‘doesn’t understand the way the early years sector works as it has very little early years representation on it’ adding it had tried to impose a GCSE requirement, despite a similar move being imposed by the DfE in 2015 which was finally reversed in 2017 following a sector-wide campaign.

A spokeswoman for Dandelion Education said that MD and panel member Emma Harwood felt she had to resign because 'the commitment to travel from Norfolk to London for brief meetings was simply unrealistic for us and put extra pressure on our business' but she was 'sad to leave' and had taken her role 'very seriously'.

The Level 3 standard finally became ready for delivery in April 2019, two years after Ms Gibbin set up the group and five years after the first trailblazer group was set up.




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