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Essex County Council unveils guide to early years careers for school leavers

Business / Mon 8th Jul 2024 at 03:30pm

ESSEX County Council unveils guide to early years careers for school leavers

The council has launched a guide packed with expert advice to help school leavers kickstart their careers in early years and childcare.

The guide features tips from experienced practitioners and is part of the council’s early years recruitment campaign, ‘Make a change. Build a future.’ The campaign aims to inspire people to enter or return to the sector and support aspiring childminders.

Teigan Brown, a 16-year-old apprentice at Meadgate Nursery in Chelmsford, supports the campaign. She reflects on her journey: “I always knew I wanted to work with children. I chose to do an apprenticeship to gain hands-on experience and earn money at the same time. Meadgate Nursery is so supportive and now I’m working towards my Level 3 qualification in early years and childcare. It’s incredibly rewarding to help children to grow and develop.”

Councillor Tony Ball, Cabinet Member for Education Excellence, Lifelong Learning and Employability at the council, highlights the guide’s value. He says: “This guide is perfect for school leavers. There are multiple pathways into the sector with ample opportunities for growth. If you’re passionate about working with children, explore our guide to see if this career is right for you.”

Essex County Council’s Guide to starting your career in early years and childcare:

  1. Start your early years career regardless of prior qualifications. There are no boundaries to starting in early years. Some courses may require GCSEs in maths and English, but if you don’t have these, you can still pursue early years and childcare roles. Apprenticeships offer the chance to gain suitable English skills while you study. Find out more on Essex County Council’s website.1
  2. Gain relevant work experience. Spend time volunteering in an early years setting or babysitting to ensure it’s the right fit for you. It’s important to know whether you enjoy working with children aged 0 to 5-years-old before starting to work in early years.
  3. Consider your pathway. Whether through apprenticeships or college courses, choose the learning style that suits you best. Apprenticeships offer practical experience and income, while college courses combine classroom learning and practical placements. Each job vacancy will outline the requirements of the role. Find out more about early years qualifications on the council’s website.2
  4. Choose the right setting. Research different settings to find one that aligns with your interests. It could be a nursery offering year-round places from birth, a preschool or an outdoor nursery.
  5. Take opportunities to grow. The sector offers many professional development opportunities. These include courses in first aid, safeguarding, Makaton and special educational needs.
  6. Consider further training to advance in your career. There are many career paths in early years. With hard work, you could soon be a room leader or work your way up to nursery manager. If you decide to specialise, you could become a special educational needs coordinator. If you’re entrepreneurial, you could work to set up your own early years setting one day.
  7. Be flexible. Early years settings are open from early in the morning to early evening. You’ll need to be flexible with your working hours, but there are also options to work part-time or term-time only.
  8. Be creative. Children need to be inspired in different ways so it’s important to be creative. Activities vary, from exploring plant life cycles outdoors to developing language through nursery rhymes, reading and writing. There’s flexibility in early years to design engaging activities and keep every day interesting.
  9. Early years offers great opportunities for men to work in childcare and challenge stereotypes. Only 2% of practitioners in school and group-based providers are male, and just 3% of childminders are male.3 The sector is keen to welcome more men. Men can provide a positive role in educating and caring for the future generation and help children to prepare for their next stage in learning.
  10. Have fun and make a difference every day. A career in early years is fun and fulfilling. If you have a caring nature and a passion for childcare, this could be the perfect path for you.

For more information and to explore funding options, visit (www.essex.gov.uk/early-years). For early years and childcare job vacancies, visit (www.essex.gov.uk/early-years-jobs).

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