The Montessori training providers in the UK have been invited to meet with the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) in Sheffield on August 29th. The NCTL is a government agency created to enable and support the development of a self-improving, school-led system. The agency was formed from the merger, in April 2013, of the National College for School Leadership and the Teaching Agency. They have two key aims: (a) improving the quality of the education workforce; and (b) helping schools to help each other to improve. They intend to work with schools to develop a 0-18 education system that means teacher and leadership training, CPD and school-to-school support are delivered locally through partnerships led by leading headteachers (see

The meeting will be held to discuss the implications of the new Early Years educator (EYE) criteria (which can be accessed on The new EYE criteria must be met by every early years qualification (including Montessori and Steiner) within a few months. Basically, there are six (unequal) sections:

* Child development: this section covers child development under the headings of cognitive, language and literacy, numeracy, physical, emotional, social and neurological aspects of development. These must be understood in detail for the years 0-5 and in outline for the ages 5-7. This section specifically includes synthetic phonics. There is also a considerable stress on how significant transitions (e.g. birth of a sibling or family breakdown) affect children.

* Planning effective care and teaching: this section covers the range of educational programs and purposeful play opportunities which a practitioner must organise.

* Assessment: this is observation-based and used to identify and meet the needs of children.

* Continuing Professional Development.

* Safeguarding: this section also includes hygiene and record-keeping.

* Partnership working: that is partnership with parents and other professionals.

There is very little, if anything, in the outline criteria which would be seriously problematic for a Montessorian, but there are a lot of details to sort out.

The NTCL has also just announced that Montessori providers (only) may have an extension until September 2015 before having to use the EYE criteria. Anyone who is already qualified, or who has started their course before then, will not be affected. Existing qualifications are listed by the NTCL (see for the complete list and details of the MAEL-approved Kent & Sussex Montessori Centre courses which are listed.

The eventual aim is that every setting shall have an Early Years Teacher (the new name for the upgraded EYPS) and an Early Years Educator, which is a level 3 qualification. Level 2s may be available, as a stepping stone for the EYE, but will not be recognized. This is quite difficult for the Montessori movement as many of them are small settings and the new regulations make it necessary to have at least 2 fully qualified staff in place at all times. Also the Montessori qualifications have been at level 4 for many years. The ongoing status of level 4 qualifications with respect to the EYE criteria is also under discussion with the NTCL.

If you have any concerns about your own qualification, or what is needed for staff, do contact your local centre to discuss your concerns.

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