Having read about the E-degree being offered by Glyndwr Universty in Wrexham, North Wales (News, 13 May), I must express my reservation about encouraging participants on to what could surely be the slippery slope in standards of qualifications in the Early Years Foundation Stage.
The scramble to attain relevant qualifications at Level 5 by 2015 for all EYFS managers and leaders to fulfil the Government mandate should be monitored carefully, and all courses should be evaluated constantly for standards of delivery.
The reasons for completing a Foundation Degree in Childcare and Education or Early Years is not just for the qualification itself, but the opportunity to study with other practitioners from a wide variety of settings and cultural backgrounds, which can be most stimulating. This is the case for students and lecturers alike.
Regardless of my extensive experience in teaching and early years, I constantly learn from my dedicated, enthusiastic students.This, in turn, feeds into curriculum and good practice for all. This would not be possible for e-learning students in the same way.
Also, my visits to settings and student presentations in the workplace or to other professionals at university is an important aspect of their higher education and provides valuable practical experience in teaching, leading and management for the future.
The idea that practitioners need not be working directly with children, but in a supervisory role, goes against the ideals of the EYFS, with its 'hands-on' approach and emphasis on play and talk in learning.
E-learning may have its advantages for students, particularly those living in isolated areas. But it may, I suggest, be disadvantageous for the children, who deserve lead practitioners to be as highly qualified and experienced as possible.
There needs to be assurance for parents and carers that their children are in outstanding settings with staff who are as highly qualified as possible. Children will not have a second chance for their learning at this age. We must all strive to 'get it right'.
Lynne Bennett, programme leader for the foundation degree in Childcare and Education, University of East London/Leyton
Letter of the Week wins £30 worth of books
REIN IN THE SUBSIDIES
I was astonished to read the letter from Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Daycare Trust (Letters, 13 May), which effectively states that until different arrangements can be made, it is perfectly right and proper that private settings should continue to lose money by being forced to subsidise the Nursery Education Grant.
She continues to refer to the 'free entitlement' in the way that the previous Government did - believing that if something is constantly referred to as being 'free' people will believe it to be so. It is not, has never been, nor currently shows any sign of ever being 'free', and we should stop referring to it in this way.
Ms Garnham also seems to be under the misapprehension that additional subsidy is the only solution. Not so. If the entitlement is reduced to, say, eight hours at the current rate of remuneration, then this would go a long way to resolving the issue for many settings. In the (unlikely) event of any further subsidy, this could be used to support an increase in session times proportionately. This move could be implemented immediately.
The evidence seems to indicate that many private settings are on the point of pulling out of the scheme, with a devastating loss of childcare places. If the delivery of early education really is as vital as everyone in the sector, including the Daycare Trust, believes it to be, then we should all be campaigning to save it. Eight hours a week is infinitely better than nothing at all.
Once this has been achieved, we can all work towards genuine universal free provision of twelve-and-a-half, 15 or 20 hours, according to what can be afforded within the economy.
Brian Cooper, Meir Park Day Nursery, Stoke-on-Trent
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