Alliance comments on early years apprenticeship eligibility criteria change

Pre-School Learning Alliance

The Pre-school Learning Alliance has welcomed news that GCSEs will now be an exit, rather than entry, requirement for apprentices undertaking Early Years Educator (EYE) Level 3 qualifications – but is urging the government to review its current stance on equivalent qualifications, as well as eligibility criteria for learners undertaking standalone EYE qualifications.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said:

“While the majority of the sector support the intentions behind government’s drive to improve the qualification levels of the workforce, many practitioners –  and in particular, setting managers –  were concerned that the previous eligibility criteria had created a serious barrier to entry for otherwise suitable learners. As such, we warmly welcome the news that the existing GCSE requirements for Level 3 apprenticeships will now apply on exit, rather than on entry.

“Following on from this decision, we would urge the government to review its current stance on GCSE equivalents, such as functional skills qualifications, given that the majority of early years employers agree that such qualifications are a valid demonstration of competency in English and maths. A decision not to accept equivalent qualifications is likely to lead to significantly fewer qualified employees in the workforce, at a time when the government is actually looking to expand early years provision in this country.

“Additionally, the fact that this decision only currently applies to EYE qualifications undertaken as part of an apprenticeship risks creating an unbalanced position where practitioners wanting to undertake an EYE as a standalone course will still be required to have GCSEs on entry. In the interests of fairness and consistency, we would urge the government to reconsider its position on this issue.”