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DfE withdraws plans for graduate feasibility study

By Rachel Lawler
Nadhim Zahawi
Plans to undertake a graduate feasibility study, originally announced as part of the Department for Education’s (DfE’s) workforce strategy, have been dropped.
Minister for children and families Nadhim Zahawi, announced the update in a letter to Robert Halfon MP, chair of the education select committee.
Recruitment challenges
In the letter, Zahawi said: “It is clear that recruiting graduates into the PVI workforce "remains very challenging", he said this was "despite significant investment since 2006”.
This is why, he explained, that the plans were dropped. Instead, Zahawi said that the DfE would be considering “alternative but complementary approaches” to improving quality.
Zahawi said that the DfE would be investing £20 million into professional development focused on disadvantaged areas. He said that further details of these plans would be released “in due course”.
The graduate feasbility study was originally announced in 2017 as part of the Department for Education's Early years workforce strategy. The strategy was designed to help employers attract, retain and develop early years staff.
Quality childcare
Michael Freeston, director of quality improvement at the Alliance, said: “Few will be surprised that the graduate feasibility study has been quietly abandoned.
“For many in the sector the calibre of an early years education has never been dependent on practitioners’ having the highest level of qualifications – a view supported by the fact that the quality of early years education has risen at the same time as differences between more and less affluent areas have narrowed. 
“The £20 million now put aside as a result of abandoning this feasibility study joins a patchwork of similarly small pots of money - none of which are enough to cover the true cost of delivering quality childcare, let alone ease the recruitment and retention crisis the sector faces. If ministers are serious about maintaining high levels of quality and improving the status of childcare professionals then they must look at the overall funding. Until they do, strategies and studies will continue to come and go without ever really addressing the needs of the workforce or our youngest children."
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