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Government announces GCSE-standard exit requirements for childcare apprentices

The Government has announced today that Childcare apprentices will have to show they have a good level of English and Maths by the end of their training, through the creation of an ‘exit standard’ of grade C or above in those subjects.

Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah said:

“All the evidence shows that the higher the quality of childcare; the higher the quality of a child’s learning and development. That’s why it’s imperative that childcare workers have the crucial literacy and numeracy skills needed to give every child the best possible start in life.”

It is intended that through using an exit standard rather than an entry requirement, educational barriers to people looking to join the workforce can be avoided. Apprentices will be offered the chance to study their Maths and English GCSEs alongside their childcare apprenticeship training, while a number of government-funded projects are available to help staff to improve core skills while they are in training or employment.

Liz Bayram, Chief Executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, said:

"It's good news that the Minister has recognised the challenges facing many nursery settings and has decided to retain the GCSE exit requirement for apprenticeships permanently. It will help address some of the staff recruitment challenges many providers are facing.

PACEY is working with the Minister and his team on a number of workforce issues and we are looking forward to building on progress so far to establish a clear career pathway for everyone working in early years, no matter how they enter the profession.

One of the main areas for action – as we highlighted in our recent Building Blocks report – is the need to review the impact that recent improvement initiatives are having on the number of new entrants to childcare qualifications courses, including the need for functional skills to be improved so they can be considered equivalent to GCSE qualifications as entry requirements. We know that this is having a real impact on the ability for settings to recruit and retain staff, at a time when the government is looking to expand early years provision in this country.”

If approved by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the new standard would come into effect on 30th July 2015.