Teachers in the pre-five sector

21st December 2012 at 00:00

When will this issue (the role of teachers in the pre-five sector, TESS, 14 December) ever be resolved from the perspective of what is right for children and not a political decision based on trying to reconcile the complex combination of cost and individual professional groups' self-interest?

I am pleased that the Education Scotland report, Making the Difference, acknowledges that it is the particular skill mix of teachers and early years workers that gives the best experience for children - a view that I and many of my colleagues have held for as long as I can remember.

But the report is flawed in that it compared the quality of centres led by staff holding a BA degree with centres where a teacher was part of the staff team. The true test would have been to look at the quality of experiences provided by basic grade early years staff and that provided by unpromoted teachers working continuously and directly with children daily.

Another interesting study would be to look at the professional standards required of teachers and those required of early years practitioners.

The cynic in me says that it suits political purposes to keep the waters muddied, as by keeping the early years sector separate in terms of qualification, professional status and conditions of service, they can pay them at a lower rate. As the workforce is predominately female, this could be construed as an equality issue.

The realist in me sees that improvements to the qualification levels, pay and conditions of service of any professional group cannot be won overnight. But while these changes are being discussed, let's not demean the contribution that teachers have for decades made to the nursery sector; let's not undermine their professional confidence and make them feel as though they are not valued.

We should be looking at taking the best of what both groups have to offer and making sure all children get the best quality education and care while the politicians work out what future early years professionals should look like.

gc1449 (via TESS website).

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