Early years teachers ‘making difference’ for children

Published on Wednesday, 19 November 2014 11:02
Written by Daniel Mason

Early years teachers are key to providing a "world class" birth to age 18 education system, according to the chief executive of the National College for Teaching and Leadership.

In a speech to the Nursery World Business Summit, Charlie Taylor said staff in the early years workforce "do a remarkable and essential job educating and caring for babies and young children".

Change had been "rapid" since the introduction of the early years professional status in 2006, he said. "Eight years ago there was no specialist graduate leadership in early years, no early years professionals and no early years teachers.

"I am delighted we now have over 15,000 graduates who have successfully completed their specialist training and are able to work as early years teachers, making a difference to young children."

He said 42% of providers now had teaching staff with either qualified teacher status (QTS) or early years professional status, working directly with three and four-year-olds, up from 32% in 2009.

Following the introduction of early years teacher in 2013, September this year saw for the first time the entry requirements exactly match those for primary teacher training, including skills tests in literacy and numeracy, Taylor said.

Funding of £14,000 is available to help providers train early years teachers, with £7,000 for course fees and the rest contributing to supply cover, salary and other support, he added.

The evidence was "clear that teacher-led provision leads to better outcomes for children", he said, especially for the most disadvantaged children.

"There is a shocking vocabulary gap of up to 19 months between the most disadvantaged children and their better of peers by the time they arrive at school. This gap remains hard to close throughout their schooling.

"Ofsted reports the stark fact that more than one third of children start school without sufficient communication, language and literacy skills. This proportion can rise to almost half of children in poorer areas. Early years teachers are helping to change these statistics."

Early years teachers also boost the status of the workforce, with the title 'teacher' now appearing across the early years and schools, he said.

However, he admitted there were outstanding questions, such as why early years teachers are not paid the same as primary school teachers given that the entry requirements for training are now the same.

But he said it would "go down very badly" if government tried to tell private businesses what pay and conditions they could offer.

Meanwhile Taylor called for greater collaboration between schools and early years providers to provide better outcomes for children. Partnerships between schools and providers could increase purchasing power for meeting the costs of continuing professional development (CPD) for staff, he suggested.

"The introduction of the early years pupil premium next April is another opportunity to consider innovative ways of working in partnership perhaps by using this additional funding to employ an early years teacher or pooling funding to share and early years teacher between settings."

The premium, worth around £300 for each eligible child, will bridge the gap between free entitlement for two-year-olds and the school-age pupil premium.

Govtoday's Early Years conference, with a public health focus, will be held on 9 December.

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