Childcare apprentices will have to show they have a good level of English and maths by the end of their training through the creation of an ‘exit standard’ of a grade C or above in GCSE English and maths.
Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah said: "All the evidence shows that the higher the quality of childcare, the higher the quality of a child’s learning and development. That’s why it’s imperative that childcare workers have crucial literacy and numeracy skills needed to give every child the best possible start in life.
"We’re totally committed to raising the bar and improving the care children receive in the early years so parents can have the strongest confidence in the people who are teaching our youngest children.
"However, unnecessary barriers shouldn’t stop skilled people joining the workforce, and it makes much more sense to have an exit standard rather than a barrier to entry. That’s why I’m pleased to say that we will offer people the chance to study their maths and English GCSEs alongside their childcare apprenticeship training."
The news has been warmly welcomed by the childcare sector, who say that the move will encourage more apprentices to join the early years workforce.
Sue Robb, Head of Early Years at 4Children, said: "We welcome the government’s decision that apprentices can work for their childcare qualifications at the same time as studying for their GCSEs in maths and English.
This will encourage more apprentices into childcare and early years."
Neil King, from the London Early Years Foundation, said: "It is essential that we have accessible routes for those apprentices who are on their way to achieving their grade C in maths and English; whilst ensuring we continue to raise the quality of provision for children across the sector through the early years educator (EYE) qualification.
This decision further supports government policy which is predicated on a high quality early years workforce that is fit for the future."
Staff with level 3 EYE qualifications can lead and manage settings delivering this care, so it is essential that they are suitably qualified and have an appropriate level of numeracy and literacy.
The apprenticeship trailblazer group made up of childcare employers has submitted a new apprenticeship standard to government for consideration including a GCSE on an exit requirement. If approved by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the new standard would come into effect on 1 August 2015.