The Education and Training Foundation (ETF) has published a report, Training the Early Years Sector, which identifies the training needs of the early years teaching and training workforce in the Further Education (FE) and Training sector.

The ETF is the national workforce and professional development body for the Further Education and Training sector, supporting the continuing transformation of technical and vocational education across all subjects, including early years.

The report has a particular focus on the professional development needs of early years tutors delivering initial training to early years learners, and the experience of learners currently enrolled on early years courses as well as the ongoing professional development needs of early years practitioners.

The small-scale study was carried out through desk research, interviews and focus groups.

Imke Djouadj, ETF Head of Maths and English, said: “This report shows a real need to keep industry experience up to date for the current and future early years workforce. This is especially so with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), child development and psychology, and in supporting children with SEND. Like all teaching workforces, there are barriers of time and cost, however it is clear early years practitioners are keen to continue improving their practice, which is a sign of how serious the profession is.”  

Key findings and recommendations

  • Early years tutors typically undertake professional development through self-directed study and/or peer learning with colleagues. While these approaches are favoured because of the low-cost and flexibility that they offer, early years tutors are also keen to have the time and funding to attend in-person training courses to enhance their professional development further. Key recommendations include improving access to in-person training and expanding existing regional professional exchange hubs for early years tutors; and ensuring that early years tutors have access to high-quality local authority training.
  • Early years tutors are keen to participate in professional development training, as well as taking advanced qualifications, to improve their practice. Time and cost remain the principal barriers for both. In response to these pressures, early years tutors are increasingly accessing online training and/or in-house training delivered by senior practitioners and managers.
  • Early years tutors were also keen to see the development of an online resources database that would be dedicated to early years subject and training resources specific to their needs, together with an online forum to share best practice. A key recommendation was to raise awareness of existing portals available, including for example the DfE-funded EYUpskill.org.uk, across the sector, as well as undertaking a full review of existing resources.
  • Early years tutors were interested in improving their own knowledge and understanding of emerging numeracy and literacy amongst pre-school aged children. With respect to skills development, tutors felt that they would like to see more targeted resources to help them embed literacy and numeracy skills more effectively within early years qualifications for the benefit of learners that experienced significant challenges with maths and English.

Read the full report. 

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