More graduates needed in early years says IPPR

09 August 2013

A new report from the IPPR calls for the number of graduates working in early years to be doubled and for better training in early years practice for Ofsted inspectors. 

Twice as many graduates needed

England has one early years graduate to 96 children in day care. Only 15% of England’s early years workforce have a degree level qualification, compared to 60% in Denmark and 80% in New Zealand. The IPPR report concludes that more than 12,000 new graduates are needed to work in early years in England.

The report argues that the Graduate Leaders Fund, scrapped in 2011, should be reinstated because it was highly effective in boosting the number of graduates in nurseries and child-minders.

The report also shows that more graduates would be highly cost effective. New IPPR modelling shows that by introducing two graduates into a centre, ratios could be relaxed and more children could be taken on, generating revenues of up to £88,880 a year. This money could then be invested in further training and development or used to bring down costs for parents.

School Inspectors should be better trained in early years practice

The IPPR also claim that Ofsted is failing to judge the quality of care given by nurseries and childminders to a sufficiently satisfactory standard.

The report argues that Ofsted ratings do not provide an accurate assessment of the care given to England’s youngest children. Centres graded as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted often receive the lowest scores on scales designed specifically for infants and toddlers. The Government plans to end all assessments by Local Authorities and make Ofsted the only judge of quality.

‘Good’ and ‘Outstanding’ scores are often viewed as indications that no further improvements are needed and so the level of quality could remain unchanged until children leave at the age of 5. Those rated ‘outstanding’ will be left for 4 years before any further inspections take place.

There are almost a quarter of a million (224,462) 3 and 4 year olds currently receiving their free early years childcare in centres that are graded as ‘Inadequate’ or ‘Requiring improvement’ by Ofsted.

The report shows that some inspectors do not have enough understanding of early years care which is required by children under the age of five. The report also argues that younger children require different approaches to learning and development and says that ‘schoolification’ should be avoided.

The report calls for changes to be made to Ofsted’s scoring system, incorporating elements of the best measures which include the needs of infants and toddlers. The report argues for Ofsted inspectors to be better trained in early years practice, specifically for the youngest children.

Download: Early developments: bridging the gap between evidence and policy in early years development, by Imogen Parker, IPPR 2013 (link opens PDF on the IPPR website).