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The impossible apprenticeship

Nick Boles MP
Minister of State for Skills and Equalities
Department of Business, Innovation and Skills
1 Victoria Street
London SW1H 0ET

4 December 2014

Dear Minister

Early Years Educator apprenticeship framework
I write further to previous correspondence about the contradictory rules for maths and English in the early years sector. I would be grateful if you would consider the following points.

1. I take no issue with the EYFS rule which requires Early Years Educators to have GCSE passes (as distinct from functional skills) in maths and English in order to practise at Level 3.

2. However for this purpose the DFE accepts GCSEs of any age, as well as equivalents such as O Levels and some international GCSEs.

3. Deleting functional skills from the apprenticeship framework was

(a) unnecessary (because the EYFS changes had already secured the policy objective)

(b) unlawful (in my opinion)

(c) disastrous (because of the unintended consequences)

4. These unintended consequences are that, with the functional skills from the framework,

(a) apprentices who hold GCSEs more than five years old (which are acceptable under the EYFS) now have to re-sit them purely in order to complete their framework

(b) because the specific rules governing controlled assessment in GCSE English make it logistically impossible for work based learners, nobody without GCSE English (or who achieved it more than five years ago) is now able to complete an early years advanced framework. The qualifications which they can complete (such as the Edexcel Level 1/2 Certificate in English Language, which is Ofqual accredited, funded, fully equivalent to GCSE and confirmed as acceptable for the EYFS) are not allowed for framework certification (bizarrely, because of a lack of enhanced functional content).

5. Following my judicial review application, the Government has recently agreed in principle to delete the five year rule from SASE. However this will have no effect unless the change is also applied, retrospectively, to the existing framework.

6. A retrospective deletion of the five year rule from the framework would deal with the re-sit problem in 4a above. However because of the problem in 4b, apprentices without a GCSE in English would still be unable to complete their framework – even after achieving an English qualification entitling them to practise as Early Years Educators

7. If a qualification such as the Edexcel Certificate was allowed to count towards the framework, this would mean that there was one single qualification in English which allowed apprentices both to complete their framework and to practise. This would be completely logical and consistent with the government’s current thinking.

8. Alternatively, functional skills could be restored to the early years framework (in line with all other advanced frameworks). Apprentices would still need to undertake a GCSE or equivalent qualification as well, in order to meet the EYFS requirements, but at least there would be a way for them to complete their apprenticeship.

9. As things stand the number of apprenticeship completions under the latest framework will be negligible.

Yours sincerely

Ross Midgley

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