Early Years graduate competencies now public

Date 3.02.2020

A new framework of competencies for early childhood practitioners – spearheaded by the University of Northampton – have been accepted as a national standard and published online.

The Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies underline the skills and aptitudes that early years professionals should have when they graduate from an Early Childhood Studies degree.

Early childhood degree programmes already ensure graduates have the required theoretical knowledge and understanding of the profession.

But appreciation of wider societal issues and a more hands-on application of other practices is not standard across the board.

The competencies – now mapped on to the Quality Assurance Agency’s Benchmark Statement for Early Childhood Studies – include analysing in greater depth social, health and wellbeing and legal factors that broaden out a graduate’s learning to make them more holistic practitioners*.

University of Northampton Early Childhood students already have the option to graduate having met such competencies, with the summer of 2019 seeing the first cohort of successful students.

The competencies can currently be undertaken within only 22 institutions nationally**, with their graduates showing they have high level skills when working with young children, their families and other professionals and increase their employability prospects.

Dr Eunice Lumsden, Subject Lead for Early Years at the University, was the lead author of the competencies and a key driver in their development, in conjunction with the Early Childhood Degrees Network (ECSDN) strategy group and other representatives for the profession.

Her colleague, Senior Lecturer Dr Tanya Richardson, is the national lead for the ECSDN. Tanya said: “Those working in the early years sector have long been working to strengthen and standardise the professional practice of the workforce.

“Historically we have come up against a wall of stereotypes and misconceptions about what we do, sometimes seen as ‘babysitters with degrees’. This new initiative will help us continue chipping away at that.”

Find out more about the Early Childhood Studies degree at University of Northampton.

*The full list of competencies:

  • Advocating for young children’s rights and participation
  • Promote holistic child development
  • Work directly with young children, families and colleagues to promote health, well-being, safety and nurturing care
  • Observe, listen and plan for young children to support their wellbeing, early learning, progression and transitions
  • Safeguarding and child protection
  • Inclusive practice
  • Partnership with parents and caregivers
  • Collaborating with others
  • Professional development.

** Only organisations who are members of the ECSDN can embed the competencies into degree programmes that are mapped on to the QAA Benchmark Statement for Early Childhood Studies.  Their primary aim is to strengthen the Early Childhood degrees that embed practice.