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Early years push to get qualifications up to scratch

UNQUALIFIED early years and out-of-school staff have been given two years'

notice to improve their expertise. Around 40 per cent of childcare and play staff currently have no qualifications.

Shuna Cant, head of early education and childcare in the Scottish Executive, last week told a Children in Scotland conference of plans to strengthen the quality of the staff training and qualifications by 2005, the date for registration of the workforce with the Scottish Social Services Council.

Ms Cant said there was considerable variation. "Some 75 per cent of pre-school centre staff hold a qualification, compared with 38 per cent of out-of-school care staff and 25 per cent of childminders. So there is some way to go."

She added: "What is important is that we register the right people, we have the resources in place for the workforce to obtain qualifications and that we set the level of qualification at a realistic level which neither excludes too many workers nor devalues the sector."

No decisions have been taken about which groups of workers will be required to register or which qualifications will be accepted, or their level.

Ms Cant told the conference of concerns about the increasing numbers of childminders who are deregistering in rural areas and welcomed Children in Scotland research into the causes. Minders were vital to rural communities.

The Scottish Executive's consultation on integrated strategies for the early years ends next month. Ministers want agencies in child care, health visiting and pre-school education to work together to reach all children up to the age of five and their parents and carers.

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