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New Early Years course to create leaders of the future


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A first-of-its-kind degree course, combining Early Years development and education with practical enterprising and managerial skills, will launch at Leeds Beckett University starting in September 2017.

New Early Years course to create leaders of the future

The new course, BA (Hons) Early Years with Enterprise, has been established to both develop students’ knowledge around the child and child development, and also, uniquely, explore enterprise, leadership and management to prepare graduates for starting their own early years enterprises, such as private day care provision. 

Steve Burton, Principal Lecturer in the Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett, said: “Our aim is to develop graduates that are not only completely child-centred and knowledgeable about working in the early years sector, but who have an understanding of how to start and nurture an early years enterprise.  We strongly believe that the early years professional of the future needs to know about marketing and promotion; they need to be confident in understanding numbers, and they need to be aware of the impact that different approaches to leadership and management can have on their staff, and the other people around them.” 

The early years sector of education, affecting children from birth to age five, developing within the government’s Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework, is currently undergoing significant change in the United Kingdom.  In January 2017, Education Secretary Justine Greening announced changes which will impact hugely on individuals working in private, voluntary and independent childcare settings, as well as in state-funded nurseries and children’s centres.  

Steve explained: “From September 2017, parents and carers of three and four-year-old children will be able to access 30 hours of free childcare per week from settings that opt in to the scheme. It is expected that this will create an additional 9000 childcare places nationally. Whilst this childcare is ‘free’ to the parents and carers, the amount paid by government is considerably lower than that paid by families for their children’s childcare, thus creating a particularly challenging environment for early years settings to operate within.  

“Additionally, staff in the sector are awaiting the government’s response to a national consultation on the minimum qualifications, knowledge and skills to be held by early years practitioners; the response of this consultation could have major implications for current staff in the sector, and on the ability of the sector in attracting new staff. Recent changes to legislation around safeguarding have targeted both those involved in, and the families of those involved in, the care and education of children aged from birth to eight years, again presenting further challenges for the owners and managers of early years settings, and their staff and potential staff. 

“In these changing times for the sector, it is more important than ever that we equip our students and future graduates with the skills and knowledge necessary to establish, and lead, successful early years enterprises and teams.” 

Both the traditional early years elements and the unique enterprise elements of the BA (Hons) Early Years with Enterprise course will be taught through a mixture of lectures and seminars from experienced university lecturers and established leaders in the early years sector. These leaders have been involved in the design of the course, will contribute to its delivery to students, and will be involved in assessments.

Subject areas will include: child development, working in the EYFS framework, play, safeguarding, marketing, and business planning; and students will have very practical tuition on subjects such as outdoor education, paediatric first aid, and food hygiene.  Students will also complete early years placements in every year of their course, allowing them to develop their own links with the wider birth-to-five-years sector. 

For more information about the new course, please click here