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Further drop in trainee early years teachers

New government statistics have revealed that only 365 people are training to be an Early Years Teacher (EYT) in the current 2018-19 academic year, down from 550 in 2017-18. Back in 2013-14, there were 2,327 students enrolled in Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT) – 84 per cent more than today.

A new report from Save the Children published today is calling for reform, and recommending that the Government:

  • Increases awareness of the employer incentive, which providers can claim if they support a member of staff to train to be an EYT
  • Improves the induction and career support which EYTs receive in order to improve their retention and to help them have the most impact on children’s development
  • Targets investment to support EYTs in disadvantaged areas through trialling salary supplement schemes and early career payments.

Earlier this year, PACEY and Voice the Union published research on EYTs and called on the Government to take urgent action to prevent the loss of more specialist early years graduates. Our key recommendations include reinstating the target that every setting should benefit from graduate pedagogical leadership, and providing funding for the free entitlement that enables all settings to be able to pay graduate-level wages to at least one staff member. PACEY and Voice also believe that the Government should also replace Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS) with a new early years specialist route to QTS, specialising in the years from birth to 7, as recommended by the respected Nutbrown Review.

PACEY Chief Executive, Liz Bayram, said, "This report echoes all the concerns we have consistently raised with government. The fact we now have only 365 Early Years Teacher trainees enrolled this year confirms PACEY’s predictions that, without improved wages and career progression, we won’t have the EYTs the sector needs to support high quality early education, especially for our most disadvantaged children. 

"This is a dire situation that could be easily remedied through sustainable funding, so settings can pay EYTs wages that are comparable to their primary teacher colleagues; ensuring EYTs can gain qualified teacher status (QTS) and so on. Government has removed any policy commitment to encourage more Early Years teachers, claiming most childcare settings are good or outstanding without an EYT. This is short-sighted. All the evidence shows the better qualified the practitioner, the better the outcomes are for the children they care for. Our own recent research shows fewer and fewer practitioners are taking time to study for relevant qualifications. One reason they state repeatedly is that there is no point as it doesn’t lead to career progress nor higher salaries.

"We urge government to revisit its decision not to encourage more EYTs through a comprehensive workforce strategy, before we lose early years teaching as a career option in this sector."