Early language skills

I appreciate concern over this very important issue. I recognise the importance of making sure all children have access to quality early education, and the Government is equally committed to improving the quality of early education. We already have a high-quality system, with 85 per cent of providers on the early years register rated good or outstanding for overall effectiveness as at August 2015. However, we should not be complacent, and continue to drive up standards.

The requirement for level 3 Early Years Educator staff to hold a GCSE Maths and English at grade C or above was introduced to make sure that new entrants to the workforce have the numeracy and literacy skills they need to operate in a level 3 role. I think this is important, especially as leading international educational experts have found that staff qualifications are "one of the strongest predictors of the quality of early childhood education and care".

Staff working in level 3 roles can have a range of responsibilities, all of which require them to be highly skilled and well-qualified. Level 3 staff are likely to work directly with children, and many will have additional responsibility as room leaders and some will lead and manage an entire childcare setting. I do think it is important to recognise that the quality of the workforce is already good, and has been improving, with 87 per cent of staff in full day care settings now qualified to level 3.

I know that Ministers have been talking to childcare employers and training organisations about early years qualifications. The Government wants to continue to work with the sector to understand the challenges faced, and find ways to tackle these whilst ensuring a quality workforce remains.