Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills and Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty
Today we are launching a consultation on a Draft 10 Year Plan for the Early Years, Childcare and Play Workforce in Wales.
In July 2013, the Welsh Government published Wales’ first strategic plan for the early years, Building a Brighter Future: Early Years and Childcare Plan. This committed us to consult on the right approach for the childcare workforce in Wales in relation to minimum qualification levels, graduate leadership, continuous professional development and career pathways. Today’s consultation launch demonstrates our progress in response to this commitment.
A Draft 10 Year Plan for the Early Years, Childcare and Play Workforce in Wales has been developed through a process of engagement with key stakeholders. The draft plan outlines our long-term goals for this important workforce, sets out how we intend to support this direction of travel and identifies how we will address the workforce development needs of all types of registered early years, childcare and play provision, in both the maintained and non-maintained sectors. This consultation provides an opportunity to seek views on the suggested proposals.
We have an ambitious, long-term vision for the early years, childcare and play workforce in Wales. In 10 years time we want a highly skilled and highly regarded workforce which understands how children learn and develop and is able to structure activities and time to support all children to develop to their full potential. We want to encourage this workforce to be proactive learners and, in particular, to extend and develop their Welsh language skills, moving towards a bilingual workforce.
If we secure these aims, we believe we will improve outcomes for young children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. We will also raise the status of careers in early years, childcare and play to a level which better reflects the vital role these practitioners play in supporting children’s development. We recognise these changes will take time and it is for this reason we are setting out our expectations in the context of a long term, strategic plan.
The Draft 10 Year Plan also sets out our proposed response to the workforce and training recommendations from two recent independent reports: An Independent Stocktake of the Foundation Phase in Wales (2014), led by Professor Iram Siraj (Institute of Education, University of London), and the Independent Review of Childcare and Early Education Registration, Regulation and Inspection (2014), led by Professor Karen Graham (Glyndŵr University). While several of the workforce and training recommendations set out in these reports are challenging for the sector, they align closely with our current policy direction and aspirations to improve the quality of childcare and early education. We are pleased to able to respond expediently to these recommendations as part of the wider workforce consultation.
Consultation responses will be considered alongside the outcomes of the Foundation Phase and Flying Start evaluations, the Curriculum and Assessment Review and other ongoing reviews. Together, these findings will provide a broad evidence base to inform a final workforce plan, to be published in spring 2015, further strengthening our drive to improve quality and raise standards across childcare and early education in Wales.