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Improving childcare skills in the Thames Valley – University of Reading

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Improving childcare skills in the Thames Valley

Release Date 01 April 2005

a classroomA new qualification that will help improve the standards, skills and status of childcare and education support staff in the Thames Valley region has been launched by the University of Reading in collaboration with three further education colleges. The Foundation Degree for Supporting Children's Development and Learning (FDEd), due to begin in September 2005, will focus on childcare skills and their application in the workplace. Three colleges – Berkshire College of Agriculture, Bracknell and Wokingham College and Newbury College – are working with the University to deliver the course. These colleges are already experienced in the delivery of a range of awards, and two of them are Centres of Vocational Excellence for the Early Years. The new course has been developed in response to the government's Workforce Reform Agreement, which recognizes the contributions of support staff and pledges to provide more opportunities for them to take on wider roles, with access to training, development and career opportunities as professionals in their own right. The University's location, in the heart of five unitary authorities and in close proximity to another five, means that it is ideally placed to contribute to these developments. Jo Elsey, Training and Recruitment Officer for the Early Years and Childcare Services in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, welcomed the University's initiative. "The government's 10-year strategy includes the need for at least one member of staff with a degree in every setting," she said. "This will require staff with academic qualifications, as well as expertise." As students will need at least two years' previous experience and to be working at least part-time in a childcare or educational setting during the programme, the degree will enable students to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding throughout their professional lives. There will also be opportunities to progress to an honours degree and, if required, Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). This structure is important according to Kriss Turner, of the University's Institute of Education. "The typical routes to QTS require students to stop work in order to qualify," she said. "By incorporating the work experiences into the curriculum and giving the students credit, it means that many more have the opportunity to improve their skills and progress. These students will be from more diverse backgrounds, and that means an improvement in the workforce." The FDEd provides a model of vocational higher education based on close collaboration between employers and providers of higher education. Senior representatives of the Thames Valley's Local Education Authorities, local employers and the three further education colleges have all helped develop a qualification that will best prepare entrants for government reform across the public sector. Each college will offer different modules according to the age-range that students are most interested in: 0-3 years: Berkshire College of Agriculture 0800 0711 666 3-5 years: Bracknell and Wokingham College 01344 390 400 5-13 years: Newbury College 01635 845 000 For further information, visit the website: End For media enquiries only, please contact the University's press officer on 0118 378 7388 or email

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