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Children and babies at risk from changes to childcare qualification

4 November 2009 | last updated: 29 October 2019

UCU Cymru has today called on Welsh Assembly ministers to urgently review the impact of radical changes to childcare qualifications amid fears that child protection and child development will be put at risk.

The major implications of the changes, which will be introduced for courses starting in 2010, include:

  • a switch from a two year, full-time academic programme of study to a work-based programme
  • a reduction from the present minimum 1100 taught hours to as few as 200.

The changes could mean students will qualify to work as a childcare practitioner and have unsupervised care of children and babies in the equivalent of just ten weeks of study.

Guy Stoate, a lecturer in childcare at Coleg Morgannwg and chair of the UCU Cymru further education committee said: 'These changes will have serious implications for the quality of childcare in England and Wales. They will weaken the standard of child protection and child development in pre-school education.

'Safeguarding children must be a top priority for everyone who works with children, as recent tragic cases have all too graphically demonstrated. Busy places of work are often not conducive to in-depth exploration of sensitive issues. Only a college-based education can provide such a learning environment. If these changes are introduced children and babies will be put at risk.

'We can't believe this was the intention, but it will certainly be the effect. Assembly ministers need to urgently review the proposed changes.

'Parents must have confidence in the qualifications that practitioners have. The process of gaining a childcare qualification must be rigorous and practitioners must leave with a clear understanding of child protection, nutritional standards, developmental sequence and a range of health and safety issues. This depth of study can't be crammed into a one-year, part-time course.'

Childcare lecturer and UCU member Shan Bowen states: 'We cannot understand the rationale behind these changes when the Care Council for Wales' own survey found "most employers stated a preference for such qualifications (which involve two years of full-time study and a more academic approach rather than work-based training)....the Diploma in Nursery Nursing is still seen in the sector as the 'gold standard' qualification."

'These changes not only seriously effect the quality of childcare provision, but will inevitably result in widespread job losses among childcare lecturers. UCU calls on ministers to halt the scrapping of existing qualifications so a full debate can take place involving all those in the childcare sector.'

From September 2010 the existing Level 3 childcare qualification will be scrapped and replaced with a new Level 3 Diploma. The new qualification, as with the current qualification, will give childcare workers a licence to practice and to have unsupervised care of children and babies.

Please find the proposed changes to childcare qualifications here.