Childcare qualifications often don’t insist on basic numeracy or literacy skills while pupils with the poorest academic records are pushed towards working with children as an alternative to hairdressing.
And some nurseries are taking on staff without any qualifications at all, according to the Nutbrown Review’s interim findings which were published last week.
Anne Longfield, the chief executive of 4Children, the national charity that campaigns for children’s services, said that the findings were a “wake-up call”.
“This is a shocking oversight that parents would be very unhappy about. It is shameful that you need higher qualifications to get into hairdressing or animal care,” she said.
Dr Hilary Emery, National Children’s Bureau chief executive said, 'The report echoes what our networks are telling us, that there is much confusion and concern over the level, quality and variation of child care qualifications.”
“Expectations of learners in terms of literacy and numeracy are unduly low,” she wrote.
“The 'hair or care’ stereotype still exists for many considering a course in the early years, yet many other sectors have raised their expectations in relation to enrolment.”
She added: “My interim report sets out the shared concerns among the workforce about their qualifications system.”
Prof Nutbrown will set out her recommendations in the summer but has suggested raising entry requirements for courses and bringing a licence for nursery workers similar to that of nurses.
Mrs Longfield, added, “'The suggestion of introducing a licence to work in early years is brave and forward thinking and we fully support this. The care and education of our children is of utmost importance and it seems only right that we provide children and their parents with the kind of assurance of quality that we have come to expect as a norm in other professions and positions of trust.
Children’s minister Sarah Teather said, 'I welcome Professor Nutbrown’s interim report. We know the earliest years of a child’s life are so important to their development so it’s vital we have a workforce with the right knowledge and skills.’