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The Early Years Teachers Status, which was introduced by the Government nearly two years ago, has been “very positive for the sector as a whole as it has given people who work with young children more credibility and more confidence”, according to a leading training provider.
Maureen Lee, director of early years, at Best Practice Network, a provider of the Early Years Teacher programme, has already seen over 400 trainee Early Years Teachers pass through its doors since the qualification was introduced back in September 2013, in a bid to boost the quality and status of childcare practitioners.
She says: “Being awarded Early Years Teacher Status means those who have trained as teachers through Early Years Initial Teaching Training (EYITT) are accredited early years specialists. Having a graduate level career structure has been very positive for the sector as a whole as it has given people who work with young children more credibility and more confidence.
“Having ’teacher’ in Early Years Teacher Status may give greater clarity to parents than perhaps Early Years Professional Status did – and, it is important to remember too, that all those who achieved Early Years Professional Status are now able to describe themselves as Early Years Teachers. This was made clear at the point when the system changed to Early Years Teacher Status in 2013.
“It has been really important to the early years sector having Early Years Teacher Status and before that Early Years Professional Status. It is a very specialised award for teachers of children from birth to five years old.”
The Early Years Teacher Status replaced the Early Years Professional Status programme, which was launched in 2007.
Early years teachers are expected to be specialists in early childhood development, trained to work with babies and young children from birth to five. They have to meet the same entry requirements and pass the same skills test as trainee primary school teachers.
Early Years Teachers don't have QTS
However, despite having to undergo the same skills tests as primary school teachers, Early Years Teachers do not have the all-important Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).
Professor Cathy Nutbrown, who suggested introducing Early Years Teachers in her report ‘Foundations for Quality’ said at the time that because her “recommendation on QTS was not accepted, the hoped for parity with primary and secondary school teachers will not be realised”.
Ms Lees agrees and says: “I often think it is a shame that ‘qualified’ is missing from the terminology of this important and rigorous professional status. In other ways Early Years Teacher Status is absolutely parallel to Qualified Teacher Status (awarded to teachers of older pupils) with the same entry requirements and training and assessment procedures.
“But, understanding of this fairly new professional status is growing fast and, for schools and early years settings, the benefits of employing a trained Early Years Teacher with the specialised knowledge to improve outcomes for babies through to five year olds are considerable,” says Ms Lee.
Becoming an Early Years Teacher very much involves being a reflective practitioner and there is a big emphasis on working with the other professionals within and outside the setting.
Having an Early Years Teacher in a setting can also help significantly with the children’s transition from nursery to school - EYITT training involves a school placement and so an Early Years Teacher has direct experience of how a school works and how children can best be supported to make this important educational transition, according to Ms Lee.
Rosie Goodrich, is currently working towards Early Years Teacher Status on the Assessment Only Route.
She works with children aged from 6 weeks to 4 years at Oak House Montessori Nursery in Southend-on-Sea.
She says: “I have worked there for four years, beginning as a volunteer and working my way up through different roles. I am now a pre-school room leader, mainly working with children aged three to four years but also with younger children throughout the day. I have also spent time in other nurseries and in a local school’s Reception and Key Stage 1 classes.
“As an early years practitioner I feel that it is important that I continually develop my practice so the children receive the best quality of care and education, preparing them for their further education and future. In 2012 I completed my Early Childhood Studies degree (studying part time) and I have now taken the next step and am working towards Early Years Teacher Status. In December 2014 I started the three month Assessment Only Route and am thoroughly enjoying it.”
She adds: “Through compiling my evidence for the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years) I have become much more confident about my practice and my ability to lead and support other colleagues. I have had to reflect constantly on what I am doing with the children, how to improve my teaching and how to ensure they are learning in the best way possible.
“My managers are supportive and understanding of the requirements of the EYITT programme and are allowing me extra time for collecting together my evidence. They believe that by completing this programme it will not only develop my practice but also have a positive impact on the quality of care and education for the children who currently attend and for the children who may attend in the future.”
EYITT is open to both new entrants to the early years profession – for example new graduates and career changers – and to those currently employed in the sector in any early years school or other setting, including child minders. For new entrants EYITT is a full time course with 120 days of placement. For those employed, it is a part time programme with placements as required to build the individual’s experience of different types of early years provision.
The Graduate Entry and Graduate Employment Based routes are fully funded with no fees payable and, for employed people, funding is available to support their release for study and placement. There are bursaries available for Graduate Entry trainees with 2.1, 1st, Masters or PhD degrees.
For graduates who are very experienced in Early Years, there is also a three month Assessment Only Route for which fees are payable. This is popular for experienced people who don’t need training in order to meet the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years). You can find out more from at www.bestpracticenet.co.uk/eyitt
09 Apr 2015 2:50 PM
'despite having to undergo the same skills tests as primary school teachers, Early Years Teachers do not have the all-important Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).' And herein lies the problem. Unless Early Years Teachers (and EYPs) are awarded QTS, they will not attract the same remuneration package and will struggle to achieve a position which equates with their level of skill and professionalism. I achieved EYPS in early 2013 but was never able to get beyond the interview stage for any teaching post. I count myself as extremely fortunate that at the ripe old age of 51, I shall be returning to university in September 2015 to study for an Early Years PGCE (Schools Direct-Salaried) to ensure that I achieve QTS. It remains a disgrace that talented and dedicated Early Years specialists are being consistently badly treated in this way.