The ever-changing world of qualifications for the Early Years workforce depends on a wide range of factors. A dichotomy between the need for industry practice and academic skills is present within the current sector as changes to qualifications continue to develop. This paper explores one route of qualification into Early Years, the BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) National Extended Diploma Level 3 in Children’s Play, Learning and Development (CPLD) with Early Years Educator status (BTEC, 2015). An investigation into how this BTEC course meets its aims in promoting students’ academic skills ready for Higher Education (HE) highlighted a key difference in expectations of Level three students from Further Education (FE) and HE participants.
Data collected through semi structured interviews from FE teaching staff and documentary analysis of the CPLD specification pose significant differences in their expectations of student ‘academic’ skills as opposed to the expectations of HE teaching staff. Further exploration continued to suggest that the BTEC CPLD specification focuses on more specific academic skills such as referencing than the conflicting finding of HE participants who presented different expectations and skills from Level three students progressing into HE.
Highlighting such a difference is imperative within the sector as it implies there is a need to address this gap of expectations for level three students transitioning into HE to both provide a smoother transition for students’ development and to bridge the gap of qualification expectations of practitioners. This paper summarises with key recommendations for both FE teachers and HE academics as well as addressing the course specification design of the BTEC CPLD qualification.