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STAR LETTER - ASSESSMENT WAS GOOD EXPERIENCE

The news analysis article 'Failed' inspectors lose their jobs (15-28 October 2012) contained several inaccuracies and I believe misrepresented the training and assessment process that inspectors undertook. I attended training for the new early years inspection framework in Manchester in early July and my experience was quite different from that reported in the article. We were supported during this training; every opportunity was given to ask questions and have points clarified.

The training rooms were not overcrowded, disruptive or noisy. On day one we were asked to complete a questionnaire to assess our current level of understanding and knowledge based on the reading material that had been given prior to the training. We were given 20 minutes to complete this task. The second part of the assessment took place at the end of the afternoon of day three. The first completed questionnaire was returned, plus another blank copy, and again we had 20 minutes to complete it.

This was a very useful exercise as it showed inspectors how much progress they had made in their learning and understanding during the training.

The next part of the assessment was to watch a series of scenarios, gather evidence, identify some strengths and weaknesses and a possible line of enquiry that could have been pursued. It is irrelevant as to whether these scenarios were real or staged. We were not asked to write a report. We were asked to make a provisional judgement, based on our evidence and write the strengths and weaknesses in the format that they would appear in a report.

The whole assessment process took just under two hours, not 20 minutes as reported in the article. I do not believe that the training and assessment process will adversely impact on the quality of the inspection and regulation system for early years; quite the reverse. This process should give early years settings every confidence that the person who is inspecting and making judgements on their practice is competent to do so.

Maybe this process has finally weeded out those inspectors whose knowledge and understanding of all early years settings was limited and in some cases based on out-of-date practices. Many managers of early years settings and childminders are very highly qualified individuals and they have a right to be inspected by people who are fully competent to do so.

Sheila Riddall-Leech, Ellesmere, Shropshire

Our star letter wins £30 worth of books

WHY WE MUST BUILD ON EYPS

We are delighted that the DfE's Longitudinal Study of EYPS has demonstrated the positive impact that highly trained early years professionals can have, and how their skills can make a real difference to both children's development and the status of childcare as a profession (online 3 October).

It is important that the childcare workforce should be highly qualified and professional - they are often the first professionals that young children and their families have contact with. For too long there has been a misconception that anyone can care for children.

The national survey highlights the positive impact of EYPS in supporting workforce development. Over three-quarters of those surveyed said that gaining the status had increased their personal professional development and this is long awaited good news.

However, there is much still to be done. The main barriers to progression were identified in the report as low pay, a limited number of roles available and the lack of an obvious career path.

Two-thirds of practitioners surveyed, who have already gained EYPS, felt that other professionals had little understanding of it, and many believe that people outside of the sector did not understand it at all. This particular finding is of great concern to us as a union.

Lack of recognition of a highly qualified, skilled, motivated and enthusiastic workforce will not encourage others to follow in their footsteps and achieve higher levels of qualification and skill.

EYPS now represent a group of more than 10,000 professionals who are confident about taking on a leadership role and we must build on this. Voice will continue to encourage its members and other early years practitioners to aim for and gain EYPS. We will also continue to argue for professional recognition, to include an expansion of opportunity, career development and a salary that fairly reflects the qualification, responsibility and importance of the role, without which, recognition will never truly be gained.

Tricia Pritchard, senior professional officer (Early Years and Childcare) with Voice

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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