Recently I have been concerned about the thought process of students wanting to do a Child or Health and Social care courses. Having spoken to other teachers in various Further Education settings this seems to be the general consensus too. Whilst the majority that are enrolling express a desire to be a fully qualified Early Years Practitioner (EYP), Teaching Assistant, Nurse, Health Visitor, Social Worker to name but a few, many will say they are not sure what they really want to do. Often it is thought that working with children under five or caring for the elderly is an easy option. It is not. Further information can be found here.
I can still recall past placement experiences when I got to watch qualified EYP’s (or Nursery Nurses in my day) talk about their nights out and ignore the children playing. Shout at the child who failed to use the potty in time, throw any old activity out without thought. Obviously these examples of poor practice were reported by myself. I have also worked in care with children and young people with disabilities. I have been left wondering who was caring for who at times due to poor choices of care staff and have ‘blown the whistle’ due to obvious financial abuse. Even now with various systems being made more robust, changes in legislation and the presence of Ofsted and CQC we still hear of this going on.
Which brings me to my personal view on training students, I am sure I am not on my own. In Further Education we need to not just enrol students onto the courses, but be given the flexibility to hold back students who we feel are not quite ready. We need to not be held to ransom over funding and staffing cuts should recruitment targets not be met. What I and many others want is quality, not quantity. You can see this reflected in the Nutbrown Report.
Having read @cherrylkd‘s blog on her meeting with Tristam Hunt she said that he explained his hopes for ensuring EYP’s are trained to level 3. In addition to this he wanted Sure Start centres to be rebuilt with professionals such as Health Visitors to be at hand. Our area is poverty stricken so it would be good if these proposals came in. Here are some statistics from 2013 if you are interested.
As I said Further Education needs more time to ensure the students selected for courses (more importantly ones that involve care) are ready. The pressure to meet targets can impact on this greatly. A more robust and selective process without the pressure of targets and funding would allow for this. The students that are not quite ready or unsure could be supported through courses designed to help them work out a career path.
I hope the Sure Start centres do keep up as they offer so much to the community. From a personal point of view I’ve supported parents in a Sure Start centre whilst doing community teaching. The parents wishing to improve maths and English in order to not feel ashamed when they cannot help their own children with homework. As an assessor I have assessed an outreach worker doing a level three in Early Years and watched her support children and their families in deprived areas.
There is also the age-old saying ‘pay peanuts you get monkeys’. That isn’t a fair one. If it were true I would be one heck of a monkey! I remember being paid £3.80 an hour back in the late 90s. This leads me to another point, pay. There are EYPs and Care Workers out there caring/ educating children and vulnerable adults, human beings! Why can someone kicking a football around get paid ridiculous amounts of money when they get paid so little?
This is just my own personal view and I am happy to hear others, either in agreement or not. I truly hope we can start to improve post compulsory education to support the education of young children and ensure the care workforce is properly trained and qualified to help raise the standard of care.