Qualifications within the Early Years sector are important in being able to understand the children and what is best for them, however, can furthering your childcare qualifications post level 3 improve practice?
It is often debated whether childcare qualifications or experience is more important in the Early Years sector. Many settings will now solely employ practitioners who are qualified to level 3 or those willing train on the job; however having a highly qualified workforce is a bonus for Ofsted.
There are many routes that can be taken after achieving a further education level 3 childcare qualification, some practitioners may go on to study for their foundation degree, with the option of topping this up to a bachelor’s degree. Many managers will continue to study after their level 3 in order to broaden their skill set and knowledge of theoretical practice.
There is a variety of benefits from continuing study after completion of your level 3 childcare qualification. Higher education options combine theoretical and practical skills, ensuring a well rounded qualification. Although a level 3 course will teach practitioners some theory, it is a heavily practical qualification that will require placements allowing the student to gain a great deal of knowledge through experience. Foundation degrees are much more theoretical, teaching the student about other areas of the role such as senior positions and team roles.
Some settings will pay a substantial amount in wages to hire highly qualified staff members, however due to the financial strain others will only pay higher qualified staff the same as a level 3 practitioner. This can be detrimental to keeping a highly skilled and qualified workforce, causing practitioners to go elsewhere for higher wages. Practitioners that have invested a great deal of time into continuing their professional development can be left feeling under valued by their employer if their childcare qualification is not recognised or appreciated.
Higher qualifications can add a great deal of value to your workforce, with newly qualified employees being up to date with modern pedagogy. This can open up plenty of mentoring opportunities, sharing best practice and keeping a high standard of provision within your setting.
Cathy Nutbrown released her views on having a graduate workforce in the Nutbrown Review in 2012, stating “Research has shown the huge positive impacts of graduate leadership on areas of child development such as early literacy and social development.”
She continues to say “The evidence for the positive impact of good pedagogical leadership in the early years is overwhelming. I believe that it will be these highly qualified and passionate leaders who play the biggest part in raising standards in the sector and improving the quality of provision for children and their families”
Although experience does play a vital part in understanding young children, it is important that leaders in the sector have the theoretical knowledge to create the best outcomes for children, and mentor staff in providing the best quality of practice.