Childcare and early years education need reform to give children a better start to life. Specialist Apprenticeships are recognised as an important part of the solution.
Patchy quality care and wide variations in Ofsted scores have prompted calls for wholesale reform of the nursery and pre-school sector.
The quality of care and education delivered to children below school age has a major impact on their development, but studies show that despite recent investment in the sector low quality provision is having a noticeable impact.
According to National Audit Office data just 59% of children have a good level of development at age five.
With the quality of pre-school care under scrutiny as never before, the focus has turned to training provision.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has proposed a range of short and longer term solutions.
Longer-term suggestions include the re-instatement of the Graduate Leader Fund and the creation of a range of new qualifications for people working in the early years sector.
The IPPR also said current plans to relax the ratios on the number of children under three years allowed to be cared for at once should be rejected and recommended that Ofsted should train inspectors specifically in early years practice, so they have a better understanding of the different types of setting.
In the more immediate future the IPPR has emphasised the importance of all practitioners who have responsibility for working directly with children having, or be working towards, a relevant childcare-related Level 3 qualification.
Elizabeth Truss, Minister for Education and Childcare, said highly-trained staff were vital for the early years sector.
“It’s really important for a child’s development that in the early years they are getting that really high quality attention. All of the evidence suggests that having a qualified teacher or having a highly educated workforce helps a child’s development particularly between two and four, and investing in that can have benefits at primary school and beyond,” she said.
A job for Apprenticeships
One of the best ways employers can achieve the IPPR’s aim for better qualified staff is through Apprenticeships.
The government has been investing substantially in Apprenticeships in recent years, as a way to help employers boost the skills of their staff. It has committed to recruiting 75,000 new apprentices by 2014 and in June’s Spending Review Chancellor George Osborne confirmed that more money will go towards funding Apprenticeships in 2015/16.
Within the childcare sector specifically, from September 2014, Level 3 early years educator qualifications will be introduced, all meeting strict criteria in terms of what people working with babies and young people are expected to know, understand and be able to do, with the aim of ensuring nursery staff are increasingly skilled and professional. Until then, the government has announced a £2 million Apprenticeship bursary scheme for the early years profession which will act as a transitional scheme for those aspiring to a career in early education.
Apprenticeship training is work-based, so your staff will be able to fit their studies in around their job, minimising disruption. And Apprenticeships are both cost-effective and time-efficient – they normally qualify for government funding and take between just 12 and 24 months to complete.
As well as equipping your staff with a recognised qualification, Apprenticeships also ensure that they get thorough on-the-job training and boost their English and maths by taking mandatory Functional Skills qualifications.
There is also evidence to suggest that staff who undertake Apprenticeships are more committed than other employees. Many join companies straight from school, meaning businesses have a chance to mould employees and help them develop their skills, creating loyal workers who are likely to stay in their roles for longer.
Apprentices are also thought to be more productive, with data from Populus showing that 76% of companies say apprentices provide a higher level of productivity, while 81% say that they help boost the productivity of the whole company.
Need more information about childcare Apprenticeships?
Call us on 0800 101 901 for more information or request a copy of our information pack.
Alternatively, you can catch up with us at the Childcare Expo 2013 at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th of September on stand B12. We’ll also be attending the Nursery World Awards on September 28th, where we’ll be one of the sponsors.