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Relaxing the GCSE requirements in Early Years Education

Head of Sector for Child Care at Interserve Learning & Employment, Karen Derbyshire, shares her feelings on this particular fairy-tale ending.

March 2017 marked a huge change in the landscape of the Early Years education sector. A much awaited announcement was made by Early Years Minister Caroline Dinenage to relax the requirement to have achieved GCSEs in Maths and English to a grade C or above on completion for those undertaking the Early Years Educator L3 qualification.

The GCSE requirement was introduced in 2014 to strengthen the academic ability of new learners entering the Child Care sector but did not take into account the knowledge, skills and behaviours that are required to competently undertake a Level 3 Child Care role.

Since then the sector has witnessed a 35% reduction in people undertaking an EYE Apprenticeship which in turn has affected the wider recruitment and retention of staff for both early year’s employers and training providers.

The announcement was made in response to a government consultation which ran throughout November 2016 attracting over 4000 respondents and which highlighted the recruitment crisis the sector has been facing for the past 2 years.

The consultation highlighted that over half of employers and providers had experienced significant difficulties recruiting and that the lack of GCSEs was the main contributor to this.  There was also very little evidence to suggest that the introduction of the GCSE requirement had beneficially impacted the quality of applicants to the sector or the care received by the children.

This decision is a huge relief to us at Interserve Learning & Employment along with our learners and employers.  This will enable us to work with new and existing organisations to create employment opportunities for talented and passionate individuals that want to start a career in Child Care or progress in the sector and develop their skills and knowledge beyond Level 3.

I have worked within the Child Care sector for over 22 years and have had the privilege of working with very passionate, caring and professional individuals who have raised the profile of the sector and continue to improve outcomes for children.  As Head of Sector for our Child Care team I continue to see this with our own workforce of Area Managers, Quality Assurers and Trainer Assessors.

We have already invested heavily in our workforce to support employers in their future training needs to respond to this reform and we are looking forward to developing and delivering a range of new Apprenticeship Standards across the sector in the coming months.

Our Child Care team at Interserve Learning & Employment continues to celebrate consistently high success rates of over 80% which have been sustained for over three years.  This is down to the hard work and commitment of the Trainer Assessors who are themselves sector experts and advocates.

If you’d like to know about our EYE provision and how we can help you then please do get in touch.




Karen Derbyshire

Head of Child Care

07525 903 488

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