Preparing to work in early years care and education: a study of the attitudes and characteristics of 16- 19 year olds, studying early years care and education.
University of Wales Institute, Cardiff
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This study investigates the characteristics and attitudes of 16-19 year old students who are training to work in the early years sector, in two colleges of further education. Using questionnaires with six groups of students and their course tutors, it identifies the long-term career plans of the students and the reason why they have chosen the course that they are currently studying. Academic qualifications already achieved, and individual qualities and skills of students are analysed in order to assess suitability for the proposed area of work. Student views of the occupational sector as experienced during work placement are analysed. Tutors views are sought to clarify and support student responses. The evidence gained revealed an appropriately qualified and motivated student group, with clear and relevant career goals, which largely relate to the care of children. The enjoyment of this type of work was evident in many areas of the study and was based on both past experience and current placements. In terms of future employment, the opportunity to work with children and a friendly team of people was considered more important than specific conditions of employment. Student suitability for the work was evaluated via a ranking exercise that demonstrated that both students and tutors identified the same positive characteristics as paramount. In assessing their own skills and qualities the student respondents seemed realistic. The details of these finding suggest that there are a number of points which could be acted upon to improve the effectiveness and the experience of the early years student and practitioner.
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