Minister for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills Jane Hutt today [Wednesday 29 August 2007] launched a major drive to boost recruitment to the childcare, play and early years sector and help workers in this field to gain higher skills and qualifications.
Speaking at the showpiece Rhydyfelin Integrated Day Centre in Pontypridd, the Minister said:
There has never been a better time to consider a career working with children in Wales. More than 26,000 people in Wales are already enjoying rewarding careers helping children to play, learn and grow and there are more opportunities than ever before to train and gain professional qualifications.
Demand for talented, committed people to work in the sector is rising rapidly, due partly to groundbreaking Welsh Assembly Government initiatives such as the Flying Start programme, which provides services including free childcare to families in disadvantaged areas, and the pioneering new Foundation Phase, which will create around 2,300 new vacancies for classroom assistants from September 2008.
The Foundation Phase is a new approach to learning for children aged three to seven years, where the emphasis is firmly on the importance of play, active involvement and experiential learning to develop each child’s personal, social and communication skills.
The Minister said the success of the Foundation Phase and Flying Start depended on the quality and dedication of staff:
It is vital that we get this right – the early years of a child’s life are the most important in shaping their future development, so we are making a significant investment in staff and training to ensure that we have the right people.
We recognise that everyone who is involved in caring for children plays important role – classroom assistants, childminders, play workers, and people working in playgroups, out-of-school clubs and nurseries.
That is why we are encouraging people already working in this sector to consolidate their experience and skills by further training and gaining formal qualifications.
Early years provision plays in important part in contributing to the wider economy of Wales in both the short and the long term; by providing jobs in the short term and educational advantage with improved skills base among children in the longer term.
The Minister said that boosting the level of recognised qualifications and skills within the sector would drive home the message that working with children was a desirable career option with many opportunities to progress.
The Minister said:
We want families to feel confident that, whatever the setting, their children are being cared for by skilled, professional staff who are helping to give them the best possible start in life.
Besides being immensely rewarding, a career in the childcare, play or early years sector also offers a great deal of flexibility, with many full and part-time opportunities. Staff can also train for formal qualifications at a pace that suits them – full-time, part-time, at home, college or while they work.
The recruitment campaign will feature a series of television, radio and press advertisements supported by advertorials, outdoor advertising and a comprehensive guide on the different careers and training opportunities in childcare, play and early years and a website with careers information, training opportunities and a range of case studies of people working within the sector.
People seeking further information are asked to call 0800 100 900 or click on www.playlearngrowwales.gov.uk .
- The Flying Start programme provides a range of services, including free childcare, health and parenting programmes, for 0 to three-year-olds and their families, in the most disadvantaged communities in Wales.
- The Foundation Phase encourages children to develop their skills and knowledge through play and practical activities. The Foundation Phase pilot started in 41 schools/settings in September 2004 and will be extended to a further 42 from September 2007. Statutory rollout starts from September 2008 for all 3 to 5-years-olds. Settings include schools, voluntary and private nurseries, playgroups and childminders. The evidence gathered during the Pilot is being evaluated and used to shape the final requirements of the Foundation Phase. It is intended that from the start of the 2010/11 school year, all 3-7-year-olds will have access to the Foundation Phase.
Wednesday 29 August 2007