Annie Pendrey, Professional Development Manager, Halesowen College

"Oh …so you only play" is a phrase I have come to know and loathe in the world of Early Years and my own personal vocational and academic journey.

Back in 1983, my careers advisor advised me to take a vocational route as opposed to A levels and University as my socio- economic background dictated that I would not be able to even dream of Higher Education.

Her words resonate with me to this day, ‘you can try being a Nursery Nurse, it’s a great little helper for every teacher and you will get to play’, and so my vocational journey began.

It could be argued that vocational qualifications have been over shadowed and coupled with a possible lack of understanding of the content of a vocational qualification, often seen as the poor relative.

However, last month, 300,000 students have qualified with a vocational qualification and will soon feed the complex and dynamic labour market of today.

Vocational qualifications offer a diverse route into employment and allows students to reflect and embed vocational practice to academic theory, so the ‘oh you only play’, is where as an Early Years vocational student, I would plan an activity which met the children’s age and stage of development, observed their interactions, nurtured their involvement, recorded their milestones, knowing I was playing a major part in the young child’s synaptic development.

It would then be a return to my FE college to cement this vocational practice with learning theories such as Piaget, Vygotsky and Bruner, to name a few and produce my module essays.

My NNEB qualification has long since been replaced with other Early Years Vocational Qualifications, which I now have to honour to plan, deliver and assess as a teacher (yes, a teacher!). The groups of Early Years students I teach study 13 modules with an additional competency unit over the two years and have to complete 750 hours mandatory placement hours in a range of Early Years settings with children aged 0 – 8 years of age.

There are a wide range of modules including Safeguarding, Supporting Children with Special Education Needs and of course Play and Learning, and through a range of assessments and observations students qualify with a license to practice in the world of Early Years Education.

And so, at the end of this academic year 2019-2020, both my students and many other students across the country celebrated their vocational achievements and this was acknowledged for the second year running by the BBC and Steph McGovern.


Such coverage is an encouraging step towards the recognition for vocational qualifications, and in particular for the Early Years sector, in eradicating the ‘oh…you only play’ phrase to one that celebrates the hard work that each and every student approaches their studies with and leaves to enter a workforce that nurtures and educates our children, our future generation.

In addition, with recent Government restructure, the education secretary Gavin Williamson, has pledged that he is, “going to make sure that those people who opt to take a technical or vocational qualification are given the proper recognition for their hard work’.

This is particularly poignant as FE institutions we begin to pilot the new Education and Childcare T level, with some colleges preparing to deliver the new revolution in education from September 2020.

It could be said there is still a lot of work ahead for vocational qualifications to be fully understood, celebrated and recognised as an alternative to the traditional route, both of which are stretching in academic equivalence and unique to best suit the individual.

Annie Pendrey, Professional Development Manager, Halesowen College

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Newsroom Activity

Kerry Boffey added a new event 2 hours

Self-Assessment, validating your provision.

Join Peter Stacey for this informative and engaging session, Self -assessment, the process the accuracy of judgement, clear validation through to...

  • Friday, 11 September 2020 10:30 AM
  • On-line. Longdon on Tern

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page