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Functional Skills vs GCSEs for nursery practitioners

Article By: Archie Lacey, Academic Director of CloudLearn

Back in 2014, the Government decided that in order to gain entry onto a level 3 educator course, potential educators would be required to hold at least a C grade in GCSE English and Mathematics. This was to raise the quality of literacy and numeracy of new members of the nursery workforce.

The following year in 2015, they backtracked slightly on their decision which required educators to have their GCSE qualifications in English and Maths before gaining entry onto a level 3 course. The new requirements were to have level 3 educators exit with at least a grade C GCSE in English and Maths. It is clear to see from this that they had begun listening to the sector.

Appealing for Functional Skills to be reinstated as an equivalent to the GCSE requirements is a big topic and will be debated for a long time. However, after more than a year of campaigning the Government has yet to budge on its 2014 decision. Although, no one seems to have actually considered or looked at the benefits of GCSE as compared to functional skills.

Firstly, the GCSE in itself is a higher level of qualification that is recognised not only the United Kingdom but also abroad. Functional Skills may seem the easier option or route to follow just now for educators and nurseries. However, if a student wants to progress further and chooses to study an Early Years Foundation Degree, they may find it extremely difficult to enter onto a degree course with Functional Skills compared to GCSEs.

The international variant of the GCSE, the IGCSE contains no coursework and is assessed completely from examination. As a result, educators can start studying the IGCSE at any time and have two opportunities to sit their exam in either January or May/June. This is perfect for educators who lack the qualification at present and need to fast track their course to gain employment or complete their Level 3 qualification.

One key point that is overlooked is the fact that requiring at least a C grade in GCSE English and Mathematics results in a higher level of educational standard across the workforce. Instead of resisting the change that has been put in place, educators should look forward at the benefits of a higher level qualification.

It is clear that any change in an academic setting is a huge headache for both students and trainers within the sector. But it doesn’t need to be that way! There are now plenty of options when it comes to studying GCSEs. Instead of attending a physical college and having to get days off work or miss out on having educators within nurseries, educators can study their Maths and English GCSEs online with an organisation like CloudLearn.

The solution to this problem involves making use of the modern world that we live in where everyone of us has access to virtually any information we want at our fingertips. Many education providers make use of Virtual Learning Environments to deliver online GCSEs.

Students can study at their own pace at a time and place that suits them. Whether that’s on their way to work, on their lunchbreak or at night during the week, students can set their own schedule that fits around their current commitments – not the other way around! Several organisations within the childcare sector are already adopting this method of learning with great success after working with CloudLearn.

The Government may be listening to the sector and there is clearly a lot of support for the Save Our Early Years campaign, but it remains to be seen that they will back track on a decision made to improve literacy and numeracy levels within the childcare sector. Instead of waiting and hoping that functional skills will be reinstated, it makes sense to spend time working together and looking for a solution for the forewarned recruitment crisis before it really is to late.

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