CACHE celebrates government’s decision to reinstate Functional Skills as alternative to GCSEs for early years workforce

Date: 03 March 2017

CACHE – the UK’s sector specialist in health, care and education – has welcomed today’s long-awaited confirmation that the government will reinstate Functional Skills as an alternative to GCSE maths and English for Level 3 Early Years Educators.

CACHE, which is part of national awarding organisation NCFE, has been at the forefront of the drive to persuade the government to reverse the controversial decision it made in 2014 to alter the requirements for Level 3 practitioners. This meant that they had to have at least a grade C in GCSE maths and English – without acceptance of equivalent alternatives at Level 2, such as Functional Skills.

Functional Skills equip learners with the literacy, numeracy and ICT skills they need to succeed in the workplace. As a core component of apprenticeships, these qualifications are designed to provide learners with a foundation of transferable skills to underpin their work-based learning.

Julie Hyde, Associate Director of CACHE, has led the Save Our Early Years campaign – which is made up of leading childcare organisations, concerned parents and educators from across the country – over the last year in order to put pressure on the government. The campaign called for one thing: a level playing field, in line with other sectors. This would mean that Functional Skills would be considered as an acceptable equivalent option to count in the ratios for Level 3 Early Years Educators.

The Save Our Early Years campaign’s work resulted in more than 2,500 individual letters sent to former Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan. It also marked the launch of a Department for Education consultation on literacy and numeracy requirements for Level 3 practitioners at the end of last year, which generated thousands of responses.

Julie Hyde commented: “There is no doubt that the GCSE-only policy has seriously impacted the early years sector, and in turn on parents and children, as staff shortages have increased. The existing demand for childcare plus the introduction of the 30 hour free childcare entitlement meant that there was a real chance of a childcare recruitment crisis.

“We are absolutely delighted that, after all the efforts of our sector and the Save Our Early Years campaign, the government has done the right thing. This decision will enable early years settings to again hire the excellent practitioners they need, and to allow staff to progress and remain in the workforce. Good literacy and numeracy are vital for early years staff, and alternative Functional Skills qualifications in these subjects provide these skills, as well as the practical soft skills so essential to being a high quality practitioner.

“I’d like to thank the Minister for Early Years, Caroline Dinenage, for listening to and understanding our concerns, and everyone in the sector who has supported our goal and got involved in the Save Our Early Years campaign. I’m very proud of the part we’ve played in this and I look forward to seeing the positive impact of this decision on early years practitioners, employers, parents and children.”

CACHE celebrates government’s decision to reinstate Functional Skills as alternative to GCSEs for early years workforce