Editor’s view - Don’t duck the challenge

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The Government should not abandon its proposals on early years graduates because there is not an easy way forward

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Liz Roberts

Robert Halfon MP and the Education Select Committee seem to be doing a good job of pressing the Department for Education for information about its progress on policy.

The letter sent last week by children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi to Mr Halfon contained news about elements of the early years workforce strategy that it has so far proved impossible to prise out of government.

After months of stalling on graduate workforce commitments, Mr Zahawi has confirmed the not-so-good news that these are being ditched – seemingly because they are a bit ‘challenging’.

The plan to do a feasibility study on growing the graduate workforce in disadvantaged areas has been abandoned, partly because the proportion of ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ providers in disadvantaged areas now nearly matches that in the least deprived areas.

More tellingly, perhaps, the letter acknowledges that recruiting graduates into the PVI workforce is ‘very challenging’. The commitment to ensuring routes to graduate qualifications ‘remains’.

All this doesn’t acknowledge that providing the best early years education in disadvantaged areas is about far more than Ofsted grades. Research shows the effect that graduate leadership can have, and when the Graduate Leader Fund existed, significant progress was made with recruitment to PVI settings, as there was the political will and some funding.

And the plan to enable EYPs and EYTs to teach in school EYFS classes was consulted on, claims Mr Zahawi (though this was by writing to stakeholders, not by a public consultation). Again, this plan will not go ahead – giving parity with QTS pay and conditions is obviously also too difficult to tackle!

Sidestepping the graduate challenge is not the way to take the early years workforce forward.

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