What is the structure of education from early years to post-compulsory education

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Summarise entitlement and provision for early years education. Explain the characteristics of the different types of schools in relation to educational stage(s) and school governance. Explain the post-16 options for young people and adults.

The ‘early years’ is a government definition for the education of children from birth up to the age of five, which includes pre-school and the ‘reception’ year at primary school. All childcare providers except mother and toddler groups, nannies and short-term crèches have to be registered and inspected by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education. There are currently a number of options for the provision of early years education. These are:

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  • Childminders – look after children under 12 in their own home
  • Nannies and home-based carers – provide care for children in your home
  • Sure Start Children’s Centres – provide early years education for children, full day care, short-term care, health and family support
  • Preschools and playgroups – provide part-time play and early learning for under fives, usually run by voluntary groups
  • Day Nurseries – often based in workplaces and run as businesses or by voluntary groups for children from birth to five years old
  • Nursery schools – for children between three and five years old, often based at Sure Start Children’s Centres or linked to primary schools.

The 2006 Childcare Act ensured that all children in England aged 3 and 4 are entitled to 15 hours a week of free early years education, for up to 38 weeks per year. From September 2013, around 130,000 of the most disadvantaged 2-year-olds are also eligible for 570 hours per year of funded early education. Those 2-year-olds who are entitled are those who are looked after by their local authority and 2-year-olds whose family receive certain types of income support. The free early education can be at; nursery schools, Sure Start Children’s Centres, nurseries on school sites, nursery classes in schools and academies, children’s centres, day nurseries, some playgroups and pre-schools or with childminders. This ensures that all children are given the opportunity to learn and experience early years education regardless of their families circumstances.

However, according to The Independent Schools Council the private sector educates around 6.5% of the total number of school children in the UK with the figure rising to more than 18% of pupils over the age of 16. According to OFSTED there are around 2,400 independent schools in England (also known as Public or Private schools). These are funded by fees paid by parents or in some cases by charitable donations. The Department for Education is the registration authority for all independent schools and OFSTED inspects about half of these, those being the independent schools which are not members of associations such as the Independent Schools Inspectorate. Regulations made by the Education Act 2002 sets out standards that all independent schools in England must satisfy as a condition of registration. Independent schools do not need to follow the National Curriculum and admissions policies are decided by Head Teachers and their Boards of Governors.

The national curriculum is a set of subjects and standards used by primary and secondary schools so that children learn the same things. It covers the subjects that children are taught and the standards they should reach in each subject at each stage. The educational stages defined by the national curriculum are early years (age 3-5), primary/key stages 1 and 2 (ages 5-11), secondary/key stages 3 and 4 (ages 11-16). After this children are required to remain in education or training to the end of the academic year in which they turn 17 – this can be in colleges, universities or with other training providers.

In the State system schools are funded by the local authorities and are known as maintained schools. Most state schools have to follow the National Curriculum and the most common are:Community schools are controlled by the local authority and not influenced by business or religious groups. The schools governing body is responsible for the running of the school but the local authority employs school staff, owns the land and buildings, and sets the entrance criteria that decide which children are eligible for a place. The local Authority also provides support services, for example, psychological and special educational needs services. Pupils who attend a community school must follow the national curriculum. Community schools also help to develop strong links with the community by offering the use of their facilities and providing services i.e. childcare and adult learning programmes. Foundation and trust schools have more freedom to manage the way they do things than community schools. Foundation schools are run by a governing body which employs the staff and sets the entrance criteria. The land and buildings are owned either by the governing body or by a charitable foundation. Trust schools are similar, but are run together with an outside body, such as a business or charity, which has formed an educational trust. There are two types of voluntary schools – controlled and aided. In a voluntary controlled school the land and buildings are owned by a charity, usually a religious organisation such as a church.

The local education authority employs the staff and also provides support services for the school. The charity appoints some of the members of the governing body although the local education authority is responsible for running the school. Voluntary aided schools are similar to controlled schools but they are funded partly by the local education authority and partly by the charity. The governing body employ its own staff and is responsible for running the school and contributing to building and maintenance costs. Pupils who attend a voluntary aided school have to follow the national curriculum and support services are provided by the local education authority if needed. Specialist schools are there for children who have been assessed and given a statement of special educational needs (SEN); these may be learning disabilities and/or physical disabilities. Special schools may be funded by the local education authority or they could be community, voluntary-aided or controlled, foundation or even independent . There are also:

Grammar schools which are run by the council, a foundation body or a trust. They select all or most of their pupils based on academic ability and there is usually an entrance exam to gain a place. Academies are independently managed schools set up by sponsors from business, faith or voluntary groups in partnership with the local authority and the government Department for Children, Schools and Families. Academies are run by a governing body, independent from the local council and can follow a different curriculum. Free Schools are normally brand-new schools set up by teachers, charities, community or faith groups, universities and groups of parents where there is parental demand. They will be set up as Academies and will be funded in the same way, directly from central government. They also share with Academies a greater control over their finances, the curriculum, and teachers’ pay and conditions. Free schools have to meet rigorous standards and are subject to the same Ofsted inspections as all state schools.

Local authorities have clear statutory duties in relation to post-16 participation in education – to secure sufficient suitable education and training provision and to support young people to participate. The government has stated that they are committed to ensuring that every young person has the opportunity to gain the skills and qualifications that help them progress to higher education, work and adult life. As a consequence, young people will be required to remain in education or training to the end of the academic year in which they turn 17 from 2013 and from 2015 to their 18th birthday. However, to ensure that this can happen there need to be good processes so that 16 and 17 year olds can secure a suitable offer of education or training; this process is known as the ‘September Guarantee’. The guarantee is as follows: •the offer should be appropriate to meet the young person’s needs •it may be in a school, college or in work-based learning, •it may be for part-time education where the young person is combining their education with a full-time employment or voluntary work.

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