A success for common sense

By: Esme Winch

Managing Director

Wednesday 15 March 2017

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In a hugely welcome move, the government has amended the requirement that only those who had achieved GCSEs in English and mathematics could be counted in the ratios for Level 3 Early Years Educators (EYEs).

In the long-anticipated response to the consultation on the literacy and numeracy qualification requirements for Level 3 Early Years Educators, the Department for Education (DfE) has set out that:

‘As a result of the [consultation] findings, the current minimum requirement for Level 3 EYEs to hold GCSEs in English and mathematics to count in staff: child ratios as set out in the EYFS has been broadened to include other suitable Level 2 qualifications, including Functional Skills, with effect from 3 April 2017’.

This has been an emotionally charged campaign, receiving a groundswell of support from employers, training providers and colleges in the sector, and it’s hoped that this result will reverse the recent decline we’ve seen in qualification take-up in this area, and the subsequent impact this would have on the workforce.

The U-turn on the requirements introduced in 2014 follows tireless work by the Save Our Early Years campaign, which called for one thing: a level playing field, in line with other sectors. This would mean that Functional Skills would be considered as an acceptable equivalent option to count in the ratios for Level 3 Early Years Educators.

The work by Save Our Early Years – led by CACHE Associate Director, Julie Hyde – resulted in more than 2,500 individual letters sent to former Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan. It also marked the launch of a Department for Education consultation on literacy and numeracy requirements for Level 3 practitioners at the end of last year, which generated thousands of responses.

Julie Hyde commented: “There is no doubt that the GCSE-only policy has seriously impacted the early years sector, and in turn on parents and children, as staff shortages have increased. The existing demand for childcare plus the introduction of the 30 hour free childcare entitlement meant that there was a real chance of a childcare recruitment crisis.

I’d like to thank the Minister for Early Years for listening to and understanding our concerns, and everyone in the sector who has supported our goal and got involved in the Save Our Early Years campaign. I’m very proud of the part we’ve played in this and I look forward to seeing the positive impact of this decision on early years practitioners, employers, parents and children.”


 A full list of suitable Level 2 literacy and numeracy qualifications for EYEs can be found here.

All of us at NCFE and CACHE are absolutely delighted that the government has done the right thing. This decision will enable early years settings to again hire the excellent practitioners they need, and to allow staff to progress and remain in the workforce. Good literacy and numeracy are vital for early years staff, and alternative Functional Skills qualifications in these subjects provide these skills, as well as the practical soft skills so essential to being a high quality practitioner.

Congratulations to Julie and the Save Our Early Years campaign on this result. It represents a success for technical and non-traditional routes into work and sustainable employment, which will benefit not only the prospective EYEs who would have missed out on their chosen career, but also the families who rely on access to well-staffed childcare settings.  

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