Editor's view - In need of examination

Monday, July 13, 2015

The fluctuating situation with Level 3 and above early years qualifications and the need for GCSE English and Maths at Grade C or above is beginning to feel so complicated that you need a high-level degree just to understand it!

Whatever the ins and outs, it's all having quite a devastating effect on recruitment to childcare courses and ultimately to nurseries themselves.

In this issue, our exclusive news story looks at the dropping of a commonly-used equivalency test from the list of valid alternatives to GCSE, which has led to people starting courses from September 2014 qualifying but not being able to count in ratios (pages 4-5).

The position on equivalencies and functional skills may yet have more twists and turns to come, but too late to avert the current recruitment crisis.

Should everyone at Level 3 or above have good GCSEs in English and Maths? There is much debate on this on our social media pages. It's a hard question - of course we want to raise the standards of those educating and caring for the youngest children, but are GCSEs the only or even the best way of doing this?

It is knowing how birth to five-year-olds develop their early literacy and numeracy skills and how best to support them that counts, rather than being able to do algebra or calculus. Practitioners do need to be highly knowledgeable and skilled, but is there more than one way this can happen?

It seems ironic that those taking teaching assistant and learning support courses don't need the GCSEs even though they may be working directly with children taking those exams. And sad that many potential childcare students are choosing health and social care courses instead.

This really needs a comprehensive policy debate before the crisis deepens.

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