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Pre-School Education

House of Lords written question – answered on 3rd November 2014.

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Photo of Lord Storey Lord Storey Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to reduce attainment gaps in literacy and numeracy between boys and girls in pre-school education in the short and long term.

Photo of Lord Nash Lord Nash The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is the statutory framework for all early years providers [1]. The EYFS seeks to provide quality and consistency in all early years settings, so that every child makes good progress, attainment gaps are reduced and no child gets left behind. The EYFS specifies areas in which early years providers must support children to develop, including literacy and numeracy. It is the responsibility of early years providers to identify and meet the learning and development needs of the children attending their setting. The EYFS requires providers to carry out ongoing assessment of children’s development and needs and should address any learning and development needs in partnership with parents and/or carers, and any relevant professionals.

The Department for Education is increasing the level of required English and maths qualifications for members of the early years workforce. This will ensure that all those working with young children have the right skills to support all children to achieve appropriate levels of literacy and numeracy.

1. We have published guidance on Teacher’s Standards (Early Years) which includes a requirement for Early Years Teachers to demonstrate a clear understanding of synthetic phonics and strategies for teaching early mathematics. The standards also require Early Years Teachers to plan and adapt education to cater for the needs of individual children, to make accurate assessments to inform children’s learning and development and to promote equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice.

2. Early Years Teachers must pass the same professional skills tests as trainee school teachers and must have GCSE English and maths at grade C or above on entry to training courses.

3. NCTL published new, more robust, criteria for level 3 qualifications in July 2013 – the “Early Years Educator” criteria. They set out the minimum requirements for the knowledge, understanding and skills which learners must demonstrate during assessment for their qualification to be considered qualified at level 3. The criteria include a requirement for qualifications to include a focus on recognising and meeting the individual learning and development needs of children.

4. From 1 August 2014, Government funding of Level 3 Early Years Educator training courses through the Skills Funding Agency will require trainees to have GCSEs in English and maths, at grade C or above, on entry. The EYFS has been amended to require staff holding a new Early Years Educator qualification to have achieved GCSEs in English/English Language and maths, at grade C or above, in order to count in the staff ratios at level 3. From September 2014, GCSE English and maths, at grade C or above, will be required on exit from a level 3 early years apprenticeship. This is an interim measure to support the sector in reaching the higher standards required. From August 2015, the GCSEs in English and maths, at grade C or above, will be required on entry to an early years apprenticeship.

The Department is also working with experts in the voluntary sector and charitable organisations to support work in these key areas. We have funded English and Maths Champions programmes through the National Day Nurseries Association to spread good practice in teaching literacy and numeracy in the early years.

We are investing £1.4m in the Early Language Development Programme – which has so far helped well over 100,000 parents and family members to spot problems and get support with their children’s speech and language. This work is being led by I CAN, the children’s communications charity. We are also investing almost £1m in the work of the Literacy Trust to develop a model to improve targeting and engagement of the most vulnerable families by staff in Children’s Centres and support volunteers to improve children's early literacy and language skills. -foundation-stage-framework--2)

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