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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 August 2006, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK
Nursery trainees 'cannot spell'
Matt Lucas as Vicky Pollard in the series Little Britain
Mrs Lawson says Vicky Pollards do not make good nursery nurses
Students who want to train as childcare workers should have to meet a minimum standard for their courses, a childcare and teachers' leader said.

Too many students starting childcare training courses were unable to spell, said Deborah Lawson, chair of the Professional Association of Teachers.

Mrs Lawson said a growing number of young staff dressed and behaved inappropriately for a nursery setting.

The Department for Education and Skills rejected the criticisms as insulting.

Mrs Lawson said some nursery workers even discussed in front of toddlers how hungover they were feeling after a night on the town.

She said she did not want to stop anyone drinking - "if that's what works for you, that's fine".

As a nanny or a nursery worker, you are acting as role models for children
Deborah Lawson
But she added: "That particular baggage needs to stay at the front door when you walk in.

"I don't want to trivialise this in any way at all, but we don't want a future generation of Vicky Pollards.

"I'm not saying that is going to happen, but that's the worst-case scenario."

She also said many trainees lacked basic skills and were only able to spell in "text" form.

"As a nanny or a nursery worker, you are acting as role models for children, therefore it is no good if your spelling and understanding of language is only as good as your ability to text."

'Not the easy option'

In a resolution proposed at the association's annual conference, in Oxford, Gail Holland called for a minimum entry standard for nursery nurse trainees.

"We've had people come as trainess and they just aren't up to standard - it's like having another child in the class we're working in," she said.

Maureen Luff, who seconded the motion, said: "Childcare is not the easy option for those of low academic ability.

"A good basic level of education is required to train and work in childcare - as a minimum."


The Department for Education and Skills dismissed the concerns.

"This completely ignores the true picture of what is happening and is profoundly insulting to those working hard in our early years and childcare sector," a spokesman said.

"We are absolutely committed to creating a world-class childcare workforce."

The Children's Workforce Development Council would also work with the government to improve the qualifications system for nursery staff, he said.

The director of learning quality at the Association of Colleges, Maggie Scott, said students educated at college to work in nurseries were trained to "rigorous industry standards".

"Colleges excel at engaging learners - many of whom have failed to achieve their GCSEs at school - and ensuring they are equipped with the right skills for their chosen profession," she said.

"Colleges employ robust vetting procedures to ensure learners suit courses, and literacy and numeracy key skills are included within these programmes as standard."

School workers 'pushed too far'
01 Aug 06 |  Education

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