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Parents back providers for reversal of GCSE requirements

A new poll has revealed that 70% of parents disagree with the government’s GCSE policy which states that all Level 3 practitioners must have at least a C in English and maths in order to be able to count in the ratios. Alternative qualifications, such as functional skills, are no longer accepted.
Conducted by independent polling company ComRes, the poll also showed that 60% of parents were concerned that the policy may exclude potential recruits who could be well-suited to the sector.
Many in the sector have called for Education secretary Nicky Morgan to reverse the policy, and the Save Our Early Years campaign – backed by the Alliance, CACHE, the London Early Years Foundation, the Voice union, Parenta and others – was launched last week, calling on the government to do just that.
Councillor Nick Small, assistant mayor of Liverpool and cabinet member for education, employment and skills, has also raised concerns.
“We appreciate the good intentions behind the new requirements for maths and English GCSE and share the government's vision to upskill early years education – but functional skills are as important as GCSEs in this profession, and high-quality childcare is proven to have been delivered to date by staff who may not have GCSEs,” Nick said.
“As a direct consequence of the GCSE-only policy, the availability of affordable, accessible quality childcare, that supports working parents and seeking employment, is in jeopardy. The government must review this matter.”
The number of early years practitioners progressing to level 3 has dropped by 70% and 43% of nurseries have said they are struggling to fill vacancies.
Neil Leitch, chief executive at the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said there is no doubt that young children should be cared for by, and have their learning support by, literate and numerate practitioners.
“The question: do people need to have GCSEs to demonstrate these skills? We don’t believe they do, especially when so many other employment sectors are happy and able to accept functional skills qualifications as evidence of literacy and numeracy,” Neil said.
“At a time when the government is preparing to double the free entitlement for three- and four-year-olds, we simply cannot afford to be blocking smart, eager and passionate potential practitioners from joining the sector, just because they don’t have the right type of qualification.”