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Higher status for early years The Government has announced plans to raise the status and quality of the early years workforce as part of its childcare policy. It wants to encourage more highquality graduates into early years teaching and to improve the status of the profession, according to More Great Childcare, which was launched by early years minister Liz Truss at the end of January. The Government also wants to improve the quality of people working in the sector who do not have degrees. Anyone who wants to use the ‘Early Years Educator’ title will have to achieve at least a C grade at GCSE in English and maths.

Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the NAHT, was cautiously positive, but warned that simply increasing expectations would not be enough. “Research has shown how vital effective early years education is in a child’s later development and so we welcome an increase in the level of minimum qualification expected for nursery staff,” he said. “However, any increase in the expected level of qualifications should also be echoed in the salaries and the status of those working in the early years sector. “While parents would welcome a reduction in the cost of childcare, any such cuts should not be made at the

expense of safety. Increasing the ratio of children to staff, for example, may not only compromise safety but possibly also affect the quality of the education very young children receive,” he said. “Just having better qualified staff in place does not make very young children easier to supervise.” Speaking at the Policy Exchange, Liz Truss said: “We won’t get where we want to be overnight, but we are moving in the right direction on quality and qualifications. “But we cannot overlook the fact that the commitment to make further improvements means giving providers the headroom to pay higher salaries.”


‘The NAHT is seizing control of the agenda’ NAHT Annual Conference is approaching fast. The theme this year is: ‘Leaders for Learners: stronger together’. The programme includes professional development seminars and themed policy workshops focusing on the top campaigning priorities for the NAHT in 2013, as well as debate, policy making and guest speakers. In addition, the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, has agreed to participate in an unscripted question-andanswer session. A further innovation is optional workshops on the Friday morning, which are free to all NAHT members, not just those attending the conference. Among the issues up for

debate are important decisions about the future of the Association - such as TUC affiliation and radical plans to attract new members. Other items on the agenda include an alternative accountability model, a new NAHT research strategy and the issue of facilities time. NAHT Vice President

Bernadette Hunter told LF: “As a professional association, we are uniquely placed to influence educational debate, policy and practice. We are fighting back and seizing control of the agenda. We are being proactive and developing positive alternatives: ways of working that show our

ambitions for our schools “We are developing a new school-improvement model, an alternative approach to inspection, working on a curriculumdesign project with the Royal Society of Arts and making more effective links between research and practice. “Delegates will experience a great venue in an exciting and vibrant part of Birmingham and it’s easily accessible,” she said. “Conference sets the agenda for the coming year and we are keen to hear your views. Come along and be part of it.” • The conference takes place 17-19 May at the ICC in Birmingham. For more details, visit: uk/annualconference2013


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