Northampton nursery workers ‘may leave for teaching’ if GCSE rules enforced

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Childcare workers in Northampton have voiced fears that the Government-enforced upskilling of staff could lead to a recruitment crisis.

From September, anyone wishing to pursue a career in childcare must have GCSE grades C or above in Maths and English, with alternative equivalent qualifications no longer accepted.

However, campaigners argue that the new requirement will lead to “catastrophic” staff shortages and should be scrapped.

Nursery staff have told the Chronicle & Echo that they agree.

One manager of a Northampton town centre nursery said: “Girls have applied to us recently with just maths or just English and I’ve had to turn them down.

“There’s no way they’ll be able to get the qualification in time.”

According to the manager of another Northampton nursery, while extra qualifications would benefit their children, there is a danger not enough staff will hang around long enough to pass on their new skills.

She said: “There’s lots of us that came into this because we really wanted to be teachers.

“There’s a chance that nursery staff who get to both their GCSEs will then move on and become teachers. In years to come that might make it difficult for us.

“If you compare the two, one is very well paid with school holidays and the other is not particularly well paid, working about 50 weeks a year. Which would you rather do?”

While welcoming the drive to upskill childcare workers, Busy Bees -which has three nurseries in Northampton - said the Government ought to recognise that other abilities were as important as GCSEs.

Fay Gibbin, training manager for Busy Bees’ training academy, said: “We don’t really think qualifications automatically make practitioners better equipped to nurture or inspire a child, specifically a child under the age of five.

“Some skills, such as having empathy, dedication and enthusiasm for helping to shape a child’s future, can’t be taught and ultimately, these are the skills that we look for in all our staff.”