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DfE announces planned changes to early years staff qualification requirements

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced planned changes to early years staff qualification requirements as part of a wider consultation on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework.

Proposals for change include:

  • Removing the requirement for level 3 educators to hold a level 2 (GCSE or equivalent) maths qualification, and instead apply this requirement to managers-only.
  • Introducing an ‘experience-based route’ for educators to gain approved status to work within staff:child ratios, so that "otherwise suitable educators who don’t hold an approved level 3 qualification have a path to gaining ‘approved status’ without having to do a new qualification".
  • Where applicable, reducing the percentage of level 2 qualified staff required per ratio for children of all ages from ‘at least half’ to either 30% or 40%.
  • Changing the qualification requirements for ratios so that they would not apply outside of peak working hours (for example, 9am-5pm).

Commenting on the proposals, Neil Leitch from the Early Years Alliance said

“We’re clear that the needs of the child, and ensuring that the care and education being delivered to them is of high quality, must be at the heart of any changes to early years policy.

“But while we recognise that some of the proposals – such as changes to maths qualification requirements – announced today have been long called for by those working in the early years, it’s hard to shake the feeling that many of the proposals have nothing to do with quality, and everything to do with a desperate attempt to boost workforce numbers ahead of the extension of the 30-hours offer. Taken together, there is a real risk that they will result in a de-professionalisation of the workforce at a time when the need for quality care and education is as high as it's ever been.

“Any changes to qualifications requirements must not – and cannot – lead to a lowering of standards within the early years sector, and we will fully oppose any attempts to do so.”

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Published on 6th June 2023