I have just read a slightly confused article in Nursery World. Heart is in the right place – early years needs its own higher apprenticeship – but they are going the wrong way about it. I’ve just sent this letter to the editor:
Your article on level 5 funding contains a confusing blend of accurate and inaccurate statements.
It is true that there are currently two very different level 5 qualifications around. The first is a care qualification containing two sets of pathways – for adult and children’s social care. Neither was designed for early years and not all awarding organisations consider it suitable.
The second is the City & Guilds Diploma in Leadership for the Children and Young People’s Workforce (Early Years)– a specialist qualification for the sector, launched in April 2013.
However, it is simply not true that “childcare students were able to access funding through a shared pathway with health and social care, but this has now been stopped”. Some training providers believed that, by persuading nursery managers to take an unsuitable level 5 in social care, they would be able to exploit a loophole to get funding. However, this loophole never existed. Although the level 5 in care is part of a higher apprenticeship framework (02140) in adult care management, this framework has always been reserved for those taking the adult pathways of the qualification.
PBD shares the view that there is massive demand for career progression beyond level 3 and that the early years sector deserves a higher apprenticeship framework. However, we believe strongly that it should be based on a proper level 5 qualification, not on one borrowed from a completely different sector. That is why we have invested in schemes of work and learning materials to make this a genuinely challenging early years qualification, at the level of a degree but without the need to take time off for college.
Even if apprenticeship funding comes in “some time in 2014”, those over 23 will still have to borrow to fund the level 5 qualification, not to mention all the other elements of an apprenticeship like functional skills and ERR. And of course, under the Richard Review, apprenticeship funding is supposed to be reserved for those in new job roles.
Instead, hundreds of qualified practitioners are choosing not to wait but to progress their careers now with the specialist early years level 5, which PBD is offering at a low price with interest free instalments. By 2014, while those who waited are filling in their loan applications, many of these practitioners will be entering direct to the second year of a foundation degree, well on the way to early years teacher status.