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Childcare minister announces review of GCSE requirement rule

The government is set to review controversial early years qualification rules following widespread concerns its impact on recruitment in the early years, childcare minister Sam Gyimah has announced.

Speaking at a sector conference at the end of June, Mr Gyimah confirmed that the review would be delivered alongside the government’s upcoming early years workforce strategy, saying: “I will be reviewing options of how to make sure [there is] the structure to deliver both the right number of staff and quality of staff to deliver the 30 hours.”

Currently practitioners qualified as early years educators at level 3 have to have at least a C grade in GCSE maths and English to be counted in staff-child ratios. However, many in the sector have warned that this is making it increasingly difficult for employers to recruit suitable staff. Cross-sector campaign Save our Early Years, which is backed by the Alliance, is calling for functional skills to be accepted as a suitable alternative to GCSEs.

Commenting on the announcement, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: ‘Many providers have told us of the staffing challenges that the current situation presents, and it is concerning that the requirements are acting as a barrier preventing talented potential practitioners from entering the early years workforce.

‘With the imminent introduction of the 30-hours free entitlement offer, it is crucial that the sector is suitably staffed in order to meet the additional demand for places. And so, we hope that the review will recommend that functional skills be accepted and recognised as GCSE equivalents.’