All children should have fair access to high quality early education where they can explore and start to understand the world, being powerful and active learners. Early years education is concerned with the whole child as a physical, moral, social, emotional and intellectual being. Children can learn through planned and unstructured play both indoors and outside, where they can explore and enjoy experiences in inspiring learning environments.

The early years curriculum framework sets out key areas of learning, skills and attitudes for children from age three to seven. The framework should be interpreted at a local authority level, so that it is set in the context of a national entitlement and strategy but is rooted according to local needs.

People working in early years education should have a range of skills and an understanding of the needs of young children. It is important to use teaching techniques that engages children’s attention with flexibility to develop deep learning in areas suggested by children themselves. Early years qualified teachers should be involved in all aspects of children’s learning with day-to- day engagement to review progress. Early years teachers should be well qualified with access to continuing professional development.

Recruitment & Retention Issues

Figures show that the number of people enrolling on the Early Years Initial Teacher Training course has fallen for the fourth year running, with only 595 people starting the training in 2017-2018 compared to 2,327 in 2013-14.

Although all early year’s providers have trained staff to care for children, only 36 per cent in the private sector have a qualified early years teacher on their team. In England, the East Midlands is the region where the lowest percentage of preschool children have access to graduate teachers with the North East of England being the best performing region.

According to a study by Save the Children, there is a shortage of around 2,000 graduate early years teachers in the most disadvantaged areas, where they are most needed. In particular, the retention rates of early-career teachers (between two and five years into their careers) have dropped significantly between 2012 and 2018. The Government’s Early Career Framework sets out to offer newly qualified teacher more support by means of funded time off in their timetable for professional development and mentor support.

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