Early years education improvements planned in Wales

Children at nursery Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The plan aims to change the perception of a career in early years education

Plans to develop a highly-skilled workforce to improve early years education are to be unveiled.

It is hoped it will help recognise the "vital role" of those educating and caring for children aged up to seven.

Education Minister Huw Lewis said the Welsh government's draft 10-year plan would help support "raise the status" of early years carers.

Since 2008 children aged between three and seven have been educated through the play-based Foundation Phase.

Reports into the effectiveness of the programme in May said that while it was having a positive impact on how children learned, it varied between schools and raised concerns about how well children were being prepared for exams later on in their education.

'Highly regarded'

The draft plan will go out to public consultation until 15 December and should be published next April.

It would cover everyone who works with children in both state-run schools and nurseries and private childcare settings.

The plan wants to see staff highly skilled and "highly regarded" in their career, who understand children's development, help all children to meet their potential and are bilingual.

Mr Lewis is visiting a staff training session at Herbert Thompson Primary School in Cardiff to unveil the plan.

He said: "The ages of 0-7 are a crucial time in every child's development.

"It's important, therefore, that individuals like those I will meet today, that play such a key role in supporting children during these important years, receive the right level of support, are highly motivated and skilled and feel that they are valued.

"We're determined to raise the status of careers in early years, childcare and play to a level which better reflects the vital role these practitioners play in supporting children's development."

Some of the proposals include:

  • developing early years learning hubs for staff development
  • changing adult to child ratios in school reception classes
  • raising the minimum standard required for childcare workers
  • structured inductions for people starting work in early years education
  • a progression route through the sector up to degree level equivalent qualifications

Communities Minister Lesley Griffiths said: "We owe it to our future generations to get this right.

"If we reach our goals we will improve the lives of young children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds."

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