I have been on all sides of childcare. I have been a student (yes it was some time ago but I did it), I have been a nursery worker, team leader and on the management team. I have been a childcare tutor and assessor and more importantly I have been a parent who used childcare from an early age in my children's lives.
Let me take you back, it was late 1993 when I went to visit a local college to try and decide what I wanted to do with my life post school. At that age I couldn't boil an egg properly let alone make such difficult decisions. I always wanted to be
- a social worker
- a teacher
- or work with children in some way
so as you can see, I had an idea of the type of people I wanted to work with I just wasn't sure in what capacity. I had applied to complete A levels in case I wanted to go to Uni to complete the Social work degree, but out of curiosity I was drawn to the college. Admittedly I went to see about the Health and Social Care course but somehow found myself in the Childcare rooms talking to the tutors about becoming a Nursery Nurse. I applied, was interviewed and offered an unconditional place on the course. the course I was completing was an NNEB and to get on this course you needed to have a minimum of GCSE grade C in Maths and English. To cut a long story short, I completed my course, gained my experience and went out into the big wide world. I was so excited, until I realised I would only earn £5ph
Now my course required me to attend college for three days a week and two days in placement in year one and vice versa in year 2, I had 6 placements in total in different settings - invaluable experience which I don't believe students gain nowadays. I was NOT allowed to be counted in the ratios as I was a student and only learning. I was taught to a high level and the knowledge I gained can NOT be learned whilst 'on the job'.
The current system of NVQ's, of which I know a great deal about since I assessed them, doesn't offer this level of in depth knowledge and relies on the individual and the setting to learn/teach all the underpinning knowledge they need. Imagine this, if you are trying to run a busy day nursery or classroom, you just don't have the time. NVQ's can be manipulated to ensure the learners meet the criteria and it all boils down to the assessors ability to assess them and ensure they have all the right attributes and knowledge required. This you might think would go without saying, but they are also under pressure to meet targets and get as many learners through as possible with none leaving or not completing the course. I had to complete exams and lots of observations/plan/activities etc etc. I am not saying those who have completed an NVQ are in any way shape or form are less qualified or any less of a worker than I am, what I am saying is that it is my belief that NVQ's aren't sufficient in ensuring competency of staff and standards need to be raised. These people are looking after and teaching our most precious creations.
In order to raise the standard of people looking after and teaching our children we need to ensure they are paid appropriately and qualifications are reflective of the fact that they are our children's first teachers (apart from us parents of course).
I like the idea of an Early Year Teaching qualification and an Early Years Educator Qualification, as long as the pay is reflective of the job role.
It's about time people stated to realise that childcare is not just sitting and playing in sand, water or pushing cars around a mat all day, it is much much more.