A funded qualification for Early Years educators is hard to come by, but there are schemes you can take advantage of. For example, Best Practice Network delivers the NCFE Level 3 SENCo qualification, funded by the Department for Education as part of their Covid-19 recovery programme.
I met with Best Practice Network’s Anna Watson, the programme lead for the Level 3 Early Years SENCo qualification, and Rachel King, who is working hard to ensure educators know about this funded offer.
“The aim is to improve outcomes,” explains Anna, “We want to have the biggest and quickest impact on children, their families, and their settings. The key to that is a qualified workforce, with great practices embedded throughout daily provision. We want to get qualified SENCos on the ground, equipped with the knowledge they need.”
The good news is, that childminders and home-based educators are included in this offer. A childminding veteran of 26 years, Anna knows how important this is.
“Having the qualification accessible to childminders is huge,” says Anna, “Some childminders feel marginalised as it is, so often they end up being forgotten and out of scope. But they’re included here - within this, they’re being recognised as equal. There’s a place for everyone in Early Years education - it’s about what’s right for that child.”
However, like any funded qualification, there are some limitations as to who can apply for this:
In addition, the setting must meet one of the following criteria:
Unfortunately, the funding is not available for educators in maintained Early Years settings attached to schools or council-run settings.
Rachel and Anna were keen to express that this is a qualification rather than a CPD course - there is an expectation of a minimum of 12 hours of online study, so you will have homework to do! So what does the qualification look like?
The qualification is funded by the DfE to increase the number of Level 3 qualified SENCOs who have the knowledge and skills to properly fulfil the role of a SENCo. But what does that look like in practice?
On completion of the qualification, learners will be able to:
“We gather feedback at the end of the programme,” says Anna, “When you see where the learners have started, and then the feedback we’re getting at the end, it just makes my heart sing. Our learners are telling us:
That’s the immediate impact we want.”
The learners themselves receive a certificate, badge, and lanyard, so they can proudly share their new knowledge and qualified SENCo status, and the setting they work in receives a digital banner and a certificate too.
Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.