Traditionally pre-schools work with children in the 2-5 year age range during term time only (approximately 33-40 weeks per year). Sessions are usually held in the morning or afternoon for approximately 3 hours. Over the past few years this has slowly changed and now many pre-schools are open between 8.30am and 4pm in term time and a growing number are now operating throughout lunchtime and for periods during school holidays.
Many pre-schools are either privately run or managed by a voluntary committee consisting of parents of children attending the pre-school. For more details about voluntary managed pre-schools visit the Pre-school Learning Alliance.
As a pre-school practitioner you will be working as part of team providing a carefully planned, stimulating range of activities based on the Early Years Foundation Stage. You will also ensure that children are given an appropriate level of care in a safe and caring environment. A key skill required for working in a pre-school is the ability to build a relationship with the children and their parents or carers. You will also need to work with other professionals within the pre-school, such as the SENCO (special educational needs coordinator), as well as professionals in the wider community, such as speech and language therapists. As a key person to a group of children you will be required to keep records on children’s development and welfare.
The Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets out the qualification levels that practitioners must hold to work in the Early Years sector. In group settings, the statutory framework states that the manager must hold a full and relevant level 3 qualification and at least half of all other staff must hold a full and relevant level 2 qualification. However, in practice many nursery childcare providers employ mostly level 3 practitioners, graduates or Early Years Qualified Teachers to ensure children receive high quality care and early education. The Department of Education provides more information about full and relevant qualifications for working in the Early Years.
GCSE’s English and Maths
Practitioners completing Level 3 ‘Early Years Educator’ after 1st September 2014 will need to have achieved GCSE’s in English and Maths at grade C or above to be counted in ratios. If the practitioner did not achieve a grade C in English and Maths they can only be counted as a level 2 practitioner. Practitioners who qualified in a full and relevant qualification before September 2014 do not need a GCSE in English and Maths. However, if they wish to further their qualifications to gain the Early Years Teacher Status they will need English, Maths and Science GCSE at grade C or above.
You can find out more about the Early Years and Childcare Qualification Pathway in the Children’s Workforce Development training and development brochure 2016/17 page16. Copies of the brochure have been sent to Early Years and Childcare Providers in Southampton and will shortly also be available online. Early years and childcare training courses currently available can be found at Southampton Directory | The Early Years and Childcare: Core Training
Further information about local colleges offering early years qualifications can be found on the Southampton Directory | Local colleges offering courses in childcare Introductory courses at level 2 are available as well as the Early Years Educator level 3. Courses may be available as a part time or full time course options.
Children and Young Peoples Workforce Apprenticeships
Some nursery providers take on apprentices to train whist being employed. For information about apprenticeships in the sector please see the Children and Young Peoples Workforce Apprenticeships web page.
The Family Information Service (FIS) hold details of vacancies working in childcare in the early years pre-school sector in Southampton. You can search the vacancies in this directory. If you have a specific enquiry, contact the staff at FIS. One of our advisors will contact you within 5 working days.