Last reviewed 31 January 2020

There is little evidence that government policies over the last decade have improved the qualification levels of the early years workforce, according to a new report by the Education Policy Institute (EPI).

The report, Early years workforce development in England, says that the last policy to have a positive impact on qualifications was the Graduate Leader Fund, which was withdrawn in 2011. It also states that Government lacks a long-term strategy to develop the early years workforce, which is key to improving the quality of early years education and supporting the outcomes of disadvantaged children.

It recommends that the Government revives its Early Years Workforce Strategy, which provided an overarching framework for policy development, early years programmes and funding.

The report also highlights that information on career paths and qualifications of early years workers in England is highly fragmented and often inaccessible. To support the development of the workforce, it says the Government should establish an online data collection system for all early years workers, based on a similar model in the United States. This would give practitioners, providers, researchers and policymakers access to information regarding worker qualifications, skills, career paths and training.

Dr Sara Bonetti, Director of Early Years at the Education Policy Institute (EPI) and author of the report, said:

“Policymakers frequently make pledges on providing quality early years education for families, but this can only be realised if there is a highly-qualified workforce in place to deliver it. This report shows that many interventions over the last decade have failed to do enough to either attract those with higher qualifications into the sector or develop the skills of existing workers.”

“The government should draw lessons from those policies that have been successful and develop a long-term plan for upskilling workers for the new decade. Failure to secure the workforce could threaten the quality of early years provision, and risks widening the attainment gap.”

The full report is available here.