18 Nov 10

Mixed messages on children's workforce development not a sure start

The Department for Education has announced that it is withdrawing investment from the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) "with its functions brought into the Department".

It has also announced that it will remove "the requirement to offer full day care for Sure Start children's Centres in the most deprived areas" and reduce "bureaucracy for professionals in Sure Start children's Centres in the most deprived areas by removing the requirement to hire someone with both Qualified Teacher and Early Years Professional status". Apparently the timing of this "depends on local authorities who have to consult before making significant changes to Sure Start /Early Years".

Voice is no fan of the CWDC and has expressed its concerns about the CWDC watering down early years qualifications but taking its "functions" in-house, in a similar manner to the GTC, gives the impression that developing the children's workforce is not a priority and will be more under political control.

Childcare members, including through long-running correspondence in Voice's journal, have also expressed their concerns about the requirement in the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage that at least one member of staff in maintained nursery schools and nursery classes must be a school teacher, arguing for their own professionalism as childcarers.

Voice has also raised concerns about the dangers of introducing for a highly prescriptive, inflexible academic curriculum at too early age the 'too much, too young' approach.

However, why is the Government announcing these changes? What will replace the "full day care" ("This does not mean children's centres in disadvantaged areas will stop providing full day care") and why only in "the 30 per cent most disadvantaged areas"? Will the "15 hours of free early education" be formal early education or more flexible and play-based? Why change the requirements only for Sure Start children's centres, rather than all settings, and why only for Sure Start centres "in the most deprived areas".

Does this also mean that the Government has abandoned plans to develop a "graduate-led" profession by 2015?

Why are cutting red tape and reallocating "budgets" and "resources" the DfE's motivating factors? What about the needs of children or the training and professional development of staff? They should come first.

This looks like a further "watering down" of professional standards and cost-cutting, or is it a sign that the Government sees early years professionals and qualified teachers as separate professions with separate roles within more flexible provision?

If you work in early years, do let us know your views


as ever I feel that qualified nursery nurses are under paid, under valued and being cut out in favour of NVQ2 holders or unqualified people!

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