Passing exams at late stage of career is ‘neither desirable nor feasible’

Minister Maree Todd and Tory welfare spokesperson Michelle Ballantyne.

By Bill Heaney

Are West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute councils about to lose the services of a significant number of managers, particularly older managers, who already run successful, high-quality private nurseries?

And will these people might now be forced out of their careers because undertaking a level nine qualification at such a late point in their careers is neither desirable nor feasible?

Michelle Ballantyne, the Tory welfare spokesperson in the Holyrood parliament, said: “The Scottish Government knows that we need a high number of experienced managers for the expansion to 1,140 hours to succeed.

“Will the Government commit to reviewing whether an exception to the demand for a level nine qualification should be made for an individual who is already in post and where an inspection process has already provided an assurance on the quality of the services being delivered?”

Maree Todd, the Minister for Children and Young People, told parliament that a significant body of evidence and analysis—not least the 2017 Rapid evidence review: Childcare quality and children’s outcomes by NHS Health Scotland—links having a well-qualified, high-quality workforce to improving outcomes for children.

That was why the “Funding follows the child and the national standard for early learning and childcare providers: principles and practice”—published jointly with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities in December 2018—requires that all staff who are included in adult to child ratios must either have obtained or be working towards the benchmark qualification for their role.

For the first time, childminders will be required either to be qualified or to be working towards a qualification, to the same level as other early learning and childcare practitioners.

The Minister confirmed that from August 2020, all registered staff who are delivering the funded entitlement will have at least started to work towards their qualification, rather than waiting until the end of the full five-year registration period to secure the relevant qualification. We believe that that will further enhance the quality of ELC.

Maree Todd said: “There are very few changes, given that the registration of the ELC workforce is regulated by the Scottish Social Services Council. Since 2011, all registered ELC managers and lead practitioners must either hold the Scottish credit and qualifications framework level nine benchmark qualification or agree that their registration is subject to a commitment that they secure it in their first period of registration. The requirement for those staff to obtain the qualifications has not changed as a result of the national standard.”

Labour’s Elaine Smith asked: “Do the new childcare qualifications include training in tackling poverty? That is particularly relevant given the revelation this week that staff in one nursery are feeding children and their parents with donations from local businesses.

“Although compassionate staff are to be commended for taking direct action, does the minister agree that such poverty is unacceptable in our rich country? What exactly is the Scottish Government going to do about that shocking situation?”

Maree Todd blamed the Conservative government at Westminster: “I absolutely agree that that situation is unacceptable. The member will know that this issue is a particular passion of mine: we live in the sixth richest country in the world and have the hungriest children in Europe. That is largely down to the United Kingdom’s Government’s welfare system.”

Leave a Reply