MAEL was established in the spring of 1999 (and incorporated as a limited company under the Companies Act 1985 on 10th May 1999 – company 3766931) in response to a perceived need to provide independent verification of the standards of Montessori qualifications. This need arose with particular reference to the qualifications offered by the Kent & Sussex Montessori Centre, which was then accredited by the University of Brighton, who had awarded their Montessori Early Childhood Teaching Diploma 120 general CATS points at level 4 (the first time any Montessori course in the UK had been recognised in this way). The University moderator strongly encouraged the establishment of a formally independent body to oversee the establishment and maintenance of externally verified standards, which was done. In 2001 the accreditation role (still for 120 CATS points) was taken over by the Open University.
In 2004 the government began to take steps to regulate the proliferation of early years qualifications. The Dept. for Education & Science (DfES) employed LMG Associates to co-ordinate a mapping exercise. They mapped existing qualifications onto the National Occupational Standards and produced a list for the DfES website indicating which qualifications met the criteria – for the main benefit of Ofsted and employers, so they could easily determine which qualifications were appropriate for a suitable person under the Children Act 2000. KSMC early years qualifications were entered onto the list at level 4 (including the primary diploma as the list initially covered up to the age of 8).
The function of regulating foundation level qualifications later passed to the Children’s Workforce and Development Council (CWDC) and KSMC qualifications remained on the list at level 4 following a further review. In 2010 CWDC attempted to make all Early Years training follow a common qualification. Following some complaints by the sector, these plans were shelved and in April 2012 all of CWDC’s functions with respect to qualifications passed to the Dept. for Education (DfE) and its branch, the Teaching Agency, now re-structured as the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL).
Following the Nutbrown Report into Early Years qualifications, the NCTL visited qualifications requirements and issued new criteria. MAEL is currently working with the NCTL to ensure that their qualifications retain their validity. However, existing graduates of qualifications on the old qualifications list (the ‘historic list’) will retain their status, including those embarking on a course prior to September 2015 – one year later than mainstream qualifications, as agreed by NCTL.
Initially MAEL qualifications were only used by KSMC. Later, other centres have enrolled, both in the UK and abroad. However, MAEL is also gradually extending its range of services, in accordance with its mission statement and the articles of association, which state, inter alia, that the company’s objects are to provide any services which may be required for the purposes of [the] business. In 1997 MAEL began publishing a series of books of practical instruction in the Montessori Method for the early years. This was extended to the primary curriculum (related to the UK National Curriculum) commencing in 2006. In 2009 a new series, of readings on various topics, was commenced. Further publications are currently in press.
DfE (2012a). Review of early education and childcare qualifications – Interim report. Nottingham: Dept. for Education (DfE)
DfE (2012b). Foundations for Quality: The independent review of early education and childcare qualifications: Final Report Nottingham: Dept. for Education
NCTL (2013). Early Years Educator (Level 3): Qualifications Criteria. Nottingham: Dept. for Education
page updated 29.1.17