All too often we see comments on social media from people very confused about which course and which training provider they should go with. It’s far too common that we hear about training providers offering very low prices for ‘full’ qualifications, often with hidden charges or penalties. The ‘full’ qualifications often being CPD courses and will not be recognised by employers or OFSTED

Courses are often advertised as fully online, when in fact any full Level 2 or 3 qualification, observation of a learner in their workplace/placement is a requirement of Ofqual and the awarding bodies. How can a learner choose the right training provider with so many to choose from?

Word of mouth is an excellent way, ask friends, local nurseries where they have used or would recommend. Local colleges – but these would normally require a commitment to attend once a week for a day/eve.

Online training providers but only ones that are registered with an awarding body.

We think the first place to look for a training provider/college is to look at the awarding body website and do a centre search locally to you. All good training providers are inspected annually by the awarding body and have to adhere to a rigorous quality assurance.

A training provider/college that offers funded courses either through apprenticeships/ student loans are also inspected by OFSTED. Courses can be self funded or can be funded by learner loans or through an apprenticeship route, all are very different and with the funded and apprenticeships options there may be extra requirements or work to be taken into account.’

How do I choose the right qualification or level ?
The first thing we ask any applicant to think about is where they would like to work and with what age group. If you can only see yourself working in a school as a TA then the Support Teaching & Learning in Schools is the best option. However if you are not sure if you would like to work in an Early Years setting or school then the Early Years Educator is the option for you, it will give you the best option to work in all settings. A lot of schools don’t actually require a qualification for a TA but some education authorities require at least a Level 2.

Support Teaching & Learning Qualifications are offered as an Award, Certificate and Diploma.

The Award is only a short course intended as an introduction to the information and knowledge needed to work in primary, secondary or special schools. It covers the many varied roles that full and part-time support staff may fulfil including administrative roles, site support roles, technical roles and volunteers. This is knowledge only and does not give you a qualification to work directly with the children as a TA. The Certificate will enable learners to develop the knowledge and skills needed when supporting teaching and learning in primary, secondary or special schools. It covers a wide range of areas including children and young people’s development, supporting those with disabilities or special educational needs and communication and professional relationships. It is suitable to anyone working directly with the children The Diploma This qualification provides learners with an in-depth understanding of the knowledge and skills needed when working directly with children and young people in school and college environments. It covers all aspects of specialist support including planning, delivering and reviewing assessment strategies to support learning alongside the teacher; bilingual support; special needs support; and personal development and reflective practice.

All three qualifications have units in common and they can be transferred at any time to the other qualifications in the suite. The Diploma can only be completed if you support children who need additional support or you are in a specialist school. Some units may be hard to achieve if you are working in a mainstream school. The Award and Certificate are offered at both Level 2 and 3, deciding which is the correct level is often decided at interview and through initial assessment.

A general rule is that if you are employed in a school or have been volunteering for a long time then a level 3 would be more suited. Early Years Educator offered at both Level 2 and 3.

Level 2 The aim of this qualification is to provide learners with the knowledge and understanding of babies and young children from Birth to 7 years of age with applied knowledge in the early years, 0-5 years. The qualification content meets the Department for Education’s (DfE) Level 2 full and relevant criteria for a Level 2 Early Years Practitioner in the workforce. This qualification is ideal for learners looking to work with children between Birth and 5 years, and gain knowledge of working with children up to 7 years. Learners do not need to have previous experience or qualifications in working with children to undertake this qualification but will need to be volunteering in a setting to achieve the qualification.

Level 3 The Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Workforce (Early Years Educator) prepares learners to become Early Years Educators, enabling them aged 5 to 7 years. Upon achievement of this qualification it is intended that learners will be able to enter the workforce as Early Years Educators. .From 3 April 2017, the requirement for Level 3 Early Years Educators (EYE) to hold GCSE English and maths A*-C, will be broadened to Level 2 qualifications, including Functional Skills. You do not need to have a Level 2 but it is advisable if you do not have any previous experience working with young children.

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