Early Years Qualifications and Training Study

TACTYC early years education

The Centre for Education Research & Scholarship (CERS) at Middlesex University has been commissioned to undertake an important study on behalf of The Association for Professional Development in Early Years (TACTYC). This study recognises that over the past two decades, the Early Years Qualifications and Training pathways available to the workforce have been subject to numerous, significant revisions with important implications for public perception, financial remuneration and career progression. 

During the 2000s the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC), in its attempts to enact the Children’s Workforce Strategy (2005), introduced the Early Years Professional Status (EYPS) – which went on to become the subject of both critique and praise. Considerable government commissioned research was undertaken to establish an evidence base about the effectiveness of EYPS to create positive change in early childhood provision.

By 2013, following The Nutbrown Review (2012), Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS) replaced EYPS and there ensued a debate about its parity with school teacher qualifications. A number of issues emerged; chief amongst them was that EYTS lacked QTS and all the associated benefits, including observation of practice, support during a NQT year and national pay scales. 

There have been ongoing concerns that EYTs and Training Providers are subjected to the same demands as those in the maintained school sector, but enjoy fewer benefits. 

Alongside the challenges and tensions to arise from the introduction of EYTS and EYITT pathways are those associated with the Early Years Educator (EYE) qualifications, introduced in 2014, for practitioners seeking a Level 3 qualification. A significant issue with the EYE route is the requirement for applicants to hold GCSE English and Maths at grade A-C. For many, this acts to deter them and presents recruitment challenges to training providers.  

These are some of the core issues to be investigated by CERS; a focus on other concerns frequently cited in debates about training and qualifications including the schoolification of early years training content and the erosion of early childhood specialist skills/expertise in the interests of school readiness will also be explored. The costs of pursuing EY qualifications and the ultimate exchange value they represent within the labour market will also be addressed. Sustained policy attention and reform to the qualifications and training pathways available to the EY workforce has been the subject of much research and debate, and this study will make a vital contribution to gain new insights as the terrain continues to shift.

  • About the study

    • Aims and scope

      1. To set the study within context by reviewing relevant policy and research literature 

      2. To provide an overview of the nature of courses (delivery, uptake, success)

      3. To consider the content of the training and its relationship to practice

      4. To identify implications of the training for career/ professional development, reflective practice, resourcing and future provision. 

      The aims outlined above will be addressed through a mixed methods study that will attempt to capture breadth (in terms of the literature and policy reviewed, range of providers included, and geographical coverage) as well as depth (detailed accounts about the experiences of delivering, receiving and enacting the training and qualifications under investigation). 

      This will be achieved by making use of technology where possible to achieve efficient data collection.

    • Methodology

      1. A literature review to include research studies, grey literature, policy texts and media coverage 

      2. Collation and analysis of online marketing materials for courses

      3. Online survey of training providers

      4. Online consultation space for training providers

      5. Telephone interviews with small sample of stakeholders

      6. Three case studies with trainees and their training providers, and in-work colleagues; to include focus groups and interviews

      7. One day seminar (with stimulus paper delivered by Prof Peter Moss, and break-out discussion groups made up of training providers, practitioners, advocacy groups, unions) to consider the future of early years training and qualifications.

    • Timescale

      The study will last approximately one year, from December 2015.

  • About the research team

    • Professor Jayne Osgood

      Professor Jayne Osgood is Professor of Education, Early Years. She joined CERS at Middlesex University in June 2015. 

      Jayne is responsible for the overall direction of the proposed project, contributing to all elements but with greatest input at the writing and dissemination stages.

    • Professor Emeritus Peter Moss

      Professor Emeritus Peter Moss at Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education, UCL has a long and distinguished research profile in early childhood. 

      Peter will act as consultant to the proposed research. His major input will be the delivery of the one-day seminar, which will generate data from the full range of participants about the future of qualifications and training options in the early years. 

      He will also contribute to publications from the study.

    • Dr Leena Robertson

      Dr Leena Robertson is Associate Professor within CERS. 

      Leena is involved in all stages of the proposed research; she has extensive experience of undertaking similar research.

    • Dr Mona Sakr

      Dr Mona Sakr is Lecturer in Early Childhood at Middlesex University and an active member of CERS. 

      Like Leena, Mona will contribute to all aspects of the proposed study. Her expertise in digital research methods will be put to effective use throughout the study, particularly the online survey, online forum and analysis of online marketing materials available via the training providers.

    • Dilys Wilson

      Dilys Wilson is the Programme Leader for EYITT at Middlesex University. She spent many years training and developing programmes for practitioners. This involved partnerships with EY providers, training providers and Local Authority EY teams. 

      She has delivered LA training for EYPS networks and to leaders/ managers in the PVI sector on their role in leading practice, emotional wellbeing/ strong teams and EYFS supervision. 

      Dilys will offer important steerage to the project, as well as access to networks of training providers and practitioners.

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