Early years changes not backed by evidence

Government's early years changes not backed by evidence, warns Prospect

Early years professionals in Prospect reacted with dismay to key proposals outlined by the government today in its document 'More Great Childcare.'

Prospect negotiator Claire Dent said there were three key areas of concern:

  • plans for a new qualification for the early years workforce
  • plans to increase staff to child ratios in early years settings
  • plans to transfer the responsibility for regulation of all early years settings from local authorities to Ofsted.

On the new qualification, she said: "We already have a well-trained, motivated workforce only too willing and able to deliver excellence for children.

"It does not make political, economic or educational sense in these times of austerity to waste time and resources inventing a new process when the outcome for children is already robust, as proven by hard evidence, and the case for such a new and expensive proposition is so thin.

"Early years professional status-holders would welcome the opportunity to work with qualified teachers as equally valued professionals, helping to provide the right care and education for children from birth through to 18 – but as equals, not as subordinates."

Dent said that there are already 10,000 holders of EYP status, together with 2,200 currently undertaking training on funding contracts agreed for the next three years.

She added: "Increasing child ratios within early years settings will seriously impact on the quality of service delivered to the most vulnerable children in society, reducing the quality time professionals will have to work with these children.

"If the cost of childcare is the driver for this change, surely it would make more sense to keep early years professional status as the gold standard qualification, using any money assigned for retraining staff to subsidise childcare fees for working families."

In relation to removing regulatory responsibility from local authorities, Dent added: "The implications are worrying. Ofsted's view can only provide a snapshot of what is happening within a setting in a given period, and therefore cannot robustly monitor the culture and standards within these settings."

Claire Dent is lead professional for the early years professional status national committee in Prospect's Aspect Group. The group represents 4,000 advisory head teachers, directors and managers of children's services, school improvement and early years advisers, education welfare officers, 14-19 coordinators, heads of Sure Start, Ofsted inspectors, parent partnership staff and self-employed consultants.