Education Matters - a column by Brian Hobbs
THE recent suggestion that higher ratios of children to adults in the nursery environment will lead automatically to higher standards is not only lamentable in relation to likely outcome but once again illustrates how dangerously out of touch politicians are with the needs of children and society in general. The proposal has more holes in it than a very large colander.
Childcare we are told will become less expensive. The idea being that if children ratios go up by between 30 and 50 per cent the fewer staff will be required to be employed in the Nursery setting and hence the childcare provider will instantly turn their attention not to increased profits but to lower fees! Furthermore what will the future hold for staff for who discover that under the new Government proposals they are now surplus to requirements?
The creation of more "highly qualified" nursery staff through a process of only employing applicants who have achieved maths and English at GCSE grade C or above is in my opinion an utter folly. Not only does this suggestion miss the skills set that are most important, crucial and required in becoming an outstanding carer for young people but it nullifies the argument that child care will become less expensive as these new "highly qualified" staff will cost more to employ.
Academic achievement is without doubt desirable for all our young people in all walks of life and just as important if not more so is also continued professional development throughout any chosen career pathway. However to restrict employment into the nursery education sector by providing such academic barriers seems to me to have two negative outcomes. Firstly the skills of numeracy and literacy when dealing with young children from the ages of one to five must be of secondary importance to the skills of empathy, trust, compassion for others, common sense, a natural energetic and enthusiastic outgoing nature combined with patience and an awareness of health and safety issues alongside a willingness to change nappies and wipe noses!
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Secondly my experiences have brought me into contact with numerous young adults whose sole ambition in life was to look after others and in particular the young. Many of these fine young adults had all the qualities mentioned above but not all had the two much sought after C grades. What career opportunities will these young adults now have?
When will Governments and politicians realise that working with young people whether that be in the nursery, primary, secondary or the higher education sectors is a calling, a vocation it is not a career that simply calls on the ability of a young person to remember facts or figures or and pass the ever meaningless examination test.
Brian Hobbs has 15 years of experience as a director of sport in schools in London and Bristol and eight years' experience as a GCSE PE moderator in the South West. He has responsibility for schools delivering GCSE PE from South Gloucestershire to Cornwall