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LETTER OF THE WEEK

DON'T BASH STUDENTS

I read the letter 'Training standards' (27 January) with interest and disappointment. The writer describes what they perceive to be the differences in terms of quality and depth between NNEB and current childcare qualifications. For me, as a lecturer in early years, the letter highlights what appears to be an obvious misunderstanding and confusion among practitioners about current qualifications.

Hopefully this issue will be partly addressed by the introduction of the Children and Young People's Workforce Qualifications. I would, however, like to respond to some of the points raised.

First, the writer said many newly qualified level 3 practitioners had scant knowledge of the EYFS. The qualifications replacing the old NNEB cover children from birth to the age of 16 years. Therefore their teaching of the EYFS is likely to be in terms of understanding its purpose, use and objectives.

When taking this underpinning knowledge into work placement, these foundations should be built on by skilled and experienced mentors who demonstrate it through their own work. Theoretical knowledge often only becomes understood when it is seen in practice.

The writer will also appreciate the fast-moving and ever-evolving profession in which we work. Since their own qualification in the early 1970s, the face of childcare has changed beyond recognition with the introduction of the EYFS, Children Act, Every Child Matters, and Ofsted inspection and regulation.

Theoretical perspectives come in and out of fashion. Much of the work of pioneers who formed the backbone of our understanding of child development has been superseded by more recent informed research.

My main concern with the letter was the undertone of 'student bashing'. Similarities could be drawn between the suggestion that GCSEs and A levels are getting easier.

As experienced practitioners it is our responsibility to ensure that we are enthusiastic, welcoming and pro-active when working with students. This will help to ensure that our beliefs and values are passed down to a new generation of capable and motivated practitioners who benefit the children they care for.

Hayley Marshall, early years and child care consultant and lecturer, Milton Keynes.

- Our letter of the week wins £30 worth of books


FLAWS WITH OFSTED

As a nanny agency adhering to strict guidelines for registering applicants, we have become increasingly aware that the Voluntary Ofsted Childcare Register (VOCR) creates a false sense of security for parents who use it to ascertain a candidate's suitability for a position in their home. The VOCR is promoted widely as a necessary and positive addition to one's professional portfolio.

But the process to apply is lengthy, costly, and at times confusing to the applicants - this is feedback we have had from our registered nannies.

It is disturbing that the applicants are not met and interviewed in person. More so that the application form takes the form of 'tick boxes', with the method of verifying the qualifications, first aid training and insurance being placed in trust, and outsourced by Ofsted to others. Parents are falsely led into an idea that being 'registered' as a childcarer with Ofsted guarantees that the childcarer meets Ofsted standards and guidelines for registration.

It must be noted, however, that there are many excellent nannies registered on the VOCR, and we would not want to be seen to be disrespectful to these nannies.

My guidelines for employing any member of staff in households where children are present are a face-to-face meeting to ascertain suitability and to check identification, qualifications, references, enhanced CRB, insurance and relevant first aid training certificate. I believe that until these guidelines are met, the VOCR cannot be trusted as a means to ensure a child's safety. It only takes one VOCR registered 'childcarer' to slip though the very broken net, and for the unthinkable to happen.

Frankie Gray, director, Harmony At Home franchised nanny agency group.


Send your letters to ... The Editor, Nursery World, 174 Hammersmith Road, London W6 7JP. letter.nw@haymarket.com. 020 8267 8401.

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