Hevey, D. (2007) Early years professional status: an initiative in search of a strategy. Paper presented to: 17th European Early Childhood Education Research Association Annual Conference (EECERA), Prague, Czech Republic, 29 August-1 September 2007.
The UK has long lagged behind other developed countries in the level of government investment in Early Education and Care as a proportion of GDP (OECD 2006) and has maintained commitment to a ‘mixed economy’ including the private, voluntary and independent (PVI) sector. Scandinavian countries traditionally have had much higher levels of state investment and have required graduate levels of qualification for their ‘pedagogues’. Evidence from a large scale, longitudinal study in the UK (Sylva et. al 2003) confirmed that quality in pre-school provision is indeed linked to higher levels of qualification in staff. As part of a new Children’s Workforce Strategy (DfES, 2006) aimed at raising standards, a new form of graduate, multidisciplinary Early Years Professional Status (EYPS) has been created. The University of Northampton has been responsible for piloting the Validation Pathway (assessment only) across the East Midlands region of England during autumn 2006 and for the introduction of preparatory training programmes from January 2007. This paper builds on previous research, which reported a preliminary evaluation of the pilot programme (Hevey et al. 2006). It critically evaluates EYPS as an initiative in search of a strategy and considers the currently unresolved issues of status, recognition, pay and conditions, transformation funds (supply side subsidy) and the need for effective demand side subsidies to support affordability as fees inevitably increase. These are all essential features of a more strategic approach to professionalising a workforce that is fragmented, poorly qualified, poorly paid and located largely in the PVI sector.
Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Presented to 17th EECERA Annual Conference ‘Exploring Vygotsky’s Ideas: Crossing Borders’, Prague, Czech Republic 29th August – 1st September, 2007.