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Weaving the early-years threads back together

The Government's consultation on the structure of a children's workforce wraps up later this month. It should give shape to something that until now has developed piecemeal (see TES, July 1).

For the first time, the Department for Education and Skills wants to establish the role of "early years professional", and one of the most encouraging aspects is the centrality of child development, which has shamefully been lost from teacher training courses over the past 15 years.

The Government is looking at several models common in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe. For "social pedagogues", learning, care and upbringing are inseparable. "The child is seen as a social being, connected to others and at the same time with his or her own distinctive experiences and knowledge," the consultation document says.

Meanwhile, "new" teachers work across care and education settings, from nurseries to sixth forms. In Sweden, the three professions of pre-school teachers, school teachers and "free-time pedagogues" working in school-age childcare have been merged into one profession, with integrated pay and training systems.

With the aim of one qualified early-years professional in every children's centre by 2010, followed by one for every full daycare nursery by 2015, supply is a huge issue.

One way forward is to develop a new pedagogy degree, but this could mean a gap of four or five years before the first graduates emerge. However, a one-year post-graduate course could see "new" teachers at work in only two years.

More details at www.dfes.gov.uk

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