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The disparity between Early Years Teacher (EYT) and Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) - despite the Government saying they are equivalent - has come under the spotlight in a new survey.

According to the research from PACEY and Voice only 37% of those with EYT status had improved pay as a result of qualifying. This compared with 66% of those with QTS.

In the light of this, and other findings from the survey, PACEY and Voice are calling on the Government to take urgent action on the pay and status of EYTs to prevent the loss of 'talented and dedicated teachers who understand the uniqueness of a child’s early development' from the profession.

The online survey questioned EYTs, Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT) course leaders and EYITT students about the availability of EYITT courses and different routes; career aspirations, prospects and pathways of EYTs; barriers to recruitment and retention of EYTs; and how to improve graduate Early Years qualifications.

While the 428 respondents displayed a commitment to, and passion for, working in the sector there was widespread agreement that the status quo is not working.

Nearly all respondents were concerned that an EYT does not earn the same - or have the same recognition - as a teacher with QTS, even though they receive training of a comparable rigour and deliver the same curriculum.

Key findings:

  • The picture concerning the number of EYITT routes offered and students enrolled is mixed; in some places these are declining and in others they have remained steady or even increased.
  • Most people who hold, or are pursuing, EYTS have a strong desire to work in an Early Years setting directly with children.
  • The majority of EYTs find it difficult to gain graduate-level employment.
  • Schools are by far the employer of choice for the majority of current and prospective EYTs, though a minority are currently employed by them.
  • Most EYTs have not gone on to further courses to gain QTS, but a significant minority have.
  • Half of current EYT trainees think it is likely they will go on further courses to gain QTS.
  • A majority of course leaders are in favour of granting QTS to EYTs.
  • There is a stark difference between the impact of EYTS on confidence and everyday practice compared to career and income. This is much less marked for QTS.
  • Improved pay, conditions and recognition are crucial to recruiting and retaining specialist Early Years graduates and improving the EYTS qualification.

PACEY Chief Executive Liz Bayram says: “Our children are losing talented Early Years Teachers who understand the uniqueness of a child’s early development and are key to helping close the gap for disadvantaged children. This has to stop. We know that quality in the Early Years is reliant upon well-qualified staff who remain in post so that children can build a strong relationship with their key worker..”

Voice General Secretary Deborah Lawson adds: “Recent research has pointed to a downward trend in qualification levels, as settings experience high staff turnover because they cannot afford to retain their experienced staff, invest in their training and development - or even recruit them in the first place. To stem this exodus of specialist graduates working in Early Years, the Government needs to take urgent action."

PACEY and Voice have made a number of recommendations to the Department of Education:

  1. Allow Early Years Teachers to lead nursery and reception classes in maintained schools.
  2. Reinstate the target that every setting in England should benefit from graduate pedagogical leadership.
  3. Provide sustainable funding for the free entitlement that enables all settings to be able to pay graduate-level wages to at least one member of staff.
  4. Provide better guidance and support for settings about graduate qualifications.
  5. Require more transparency of EYITT course structures and outcomes.
  6. Improve statistical data used for reporting and planning for EYITT qualifications.

In the medium-term, the Department should:

  1. Replace Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS) with a new early years specialist route to QTS, specialising in the years from birth to seven.
  2. Establish accessible and affordable routes for individuals holding Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS), or its predecessor Early Years Professional Status (EYPS), to be able to access routes to obtain QTS as a priority.
  3. Require Reception teachers to have Early Years training.