A Teacher by Any Other Name

I’ve just seen the most marvellous quote tweeted:

“All adults who come in to contact with children contribute to children’s education and are teachers whether or not they are called by that name.” Tweeted by Linda R at Beyondplaydough.

Coincidentally, I commented today on a forum about Teachers and Early Years Professional Status (EYPS), so this was already on my mind. The discussion had meandered into the treacherous waters of EYPS versus teachers. Teacher status is well recognised by parents and carers. They understand that teachers have usually gone to University and have had specialist training in effective teaching. Few parents and carers understand that the EYP Status is also post graduate and covers the full age range Birth to 5 years.

The reason for this could be that the EYP Status is still new, particularly compared to teaching.

It could be that EYPS hasn’t been advertised well enough by the government and CWDC.

It could be that parents and carers just want their young child to be happy and cared for by someone who loves and cherishes their child, as they would do themselves, whatever their qualification or Status.

And really that is the reason why the tweet made me smile. From the child’s point of view, they don’t care. Children are natural learners, investigators, scientists and explorers. That’s why babies love peek-a-boo games, why toddlers love to hear the same story over and over again and why pre-schoolers are fascinated with mini-beasts. Children just enjoy having adults who are interested in them, who are willing to engage whole heartedly in their play and have new experiences to share with enthusiasm.

The important thing for the adults is that they are aware that they are being teachers – like it or not! When a practitioner refuses to touch a worm, when the adults wont go out in the rain, when the children aren’t allowed to choose their favourite story – what is that ‘teaching’ the children?

On the other hand, there are those adults who will spend hours picking up the toy and putting it back on baby’s high chair, crawl into a den to read the story or spend time hearing both sides of the dispute between friends.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big, big advocate of EYPS and a graduate led early years workforce, whether that is called Teacher, Pedagogue or Directoress.

However, I’m also a big fan of young children being surrounded by interested, loving, caring, enthusiastic ‘teachers’, whatever their name is.

What do you think? Leave a comment below to share your view.
Image by Pinkstock photos

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  • Stuart Dec 22,2015 at 8:47 am

    Just out of interest why do you continue to refer to it as EYP and EYPS when it changed EYT and EYTS to try and reflect the post graduate level of qualification?

    • Kathy Dec 22,2015 at 1:48 pm

      Hi Stuart,
      A great point! This post was written in 2011, when the Status was still EYP, not Early Years Teacher as it is now.
      I have debated whether to add a note to that effect on some of the older posts, so I may just do that this holiday!
      Many thanks for raising the point,
      Very best regards

  • Maddy Jun 5,2014 at 5:33 pm

    Hi Kathy, I am currently in college doing childcare however I am asked to write a paragraph about what are your views on adults who work with children, so I was hoping you can help me out plz. Thank you x

  • Liz Tanner May 28,2014 at 4:36 pm

    I am a qualified teacher, my PGCE covered ages 3-13 and at the time of training had no children of my own. The most valuable parts of the training were philosophy of teaching, child psychology and child develpment. In my first year of teaching I came to the conclusion that I was ‘missing’ something and although I didn’t think ‘must have children’ I knew that once I’d brought up my own children I would have so much more understanding of how children learn. Four children and 20 years on I am still learning about and thoroughly enjoying helping my early years class learn and grow. However, non-early years teachers often seem to regard those working in early years as child minders and that the children ‘are only playing’, so it is OK for me to ‘look after’ a class of 25 on my own whilst my teaching assistant helps in another class. My point is that whilst a ‘teacher’ needs to understand child development AND be enthusiastic about learning, they cannot do it alone. It is very hard work being a school teacher – I work every night and weekends and in the holidays for my pay which in the grand scale of professional pay is not great considering the hours put in – but I would happily have no more pay increases if it meant I could have an extra TA in class with me all the time. It’s also worth knowing that in schools the EY TA only works the hours she is paid for in class and doesn’t take work home. Also as a school teacher I have whole school subject leadership responsibilities in addition to teaching my EY class, have to lead assemblies, undertake subject monitoring, be a team leader for everyone working in my classroom, have to liaise with external professionals .. And maintain learning journals for every child in my class as they are all my key children. I have been a pre-school leader and the difference between ‘teaching in pre-school’ and ‘teaching in school’ is huge; the quality of interaction between adult and child is the same, but the added extras of doing it in a school possibly account for the huge difference in pay.

    • Kathy May 28,2014 at 5:10 pm

      Hi Liz,
      Many thanks for your insight into being a school teacher, and especially how valuable TAs are in your work. Having worked as a TA in a school, I can totally relate to the frustration that arises when one year group is seen as ‘more important’ than another.
      You make a good point about the pay differential. The internal workings of a school certainly bring more pressure to bear, particularly if the top-down pressure on things like writing and reading is strong.
      Obviously each practitioner’s circumstances are different. Whilst working in a PVI Nursery as SENCO and EYP I would bring work home, be a key person, liaise with outside professionals and Local Authorities – as well as working very long hours with few holidays and no increments on my pay. However, as you say, thoroughly enjoying being with young children and seeing them flourish is so rewarding – there really is no other job like it!

      Keep up the good work and thanks again for sharing your insights,

      Best regards


  • Suzanne Fenwick Feb 13,2014 at 6:40 pm

    Hi Kathy,
    I find this topic really interesting. I’ve found that a lot of early years practitioners don’t like being referred to as ‘teachers’, I believe for some it is because they don’t believe they can live up to the title – which is totally wrong because as you say they are ‘teaching’ every second that they spend with children. I think that more work needs to be done on making society more aware of how important the early years is; more value needs to be given to the work of early years practitioners; and those working in the early years need to stand up and be really proud of what they do.

    • Kathy May 28,2014 at 4:52 pm

      Hi Suzie,
      Many thanks indeed for your comments.
      I couldn’t agree more that there is lots of work to be done on promoting the importance of the Early Years!
      I do hope that all Early Years practitioners are proud 🙂
      Best regards


  • Ellie Apr 24,2013 at 6:58 pm

    I agree with all that you say Kathy. I am an EYP and have been frustrated that my skills are not valued as highly as a teacher. One thing that has niggled me recently is the references made to the EPPE study, saying that outcomes are better when a teacher is present. Surely, this study was before the EYP status and so does not reflect current early years education. I know that when I started working in early years there were many people running play groups who had to make the leap to pre-school with very little training and I am sure that at that time teachers were probably better equipped to promote learning but things have moved on. It would be interesting to do a similar study looking at the effect of graduate led practice so that those of us who have studied early years in such detail can show the impact of their work and these comparisons with teachers can end.

  • Tracy Sees Jan 12,2013 at 11:09 pm

    I simply enjoyed reading this one it was warmhearted

    • Kathy Jan 12,2013 at 11:14 pm

      Thanks Tracy!

  • Sally Taylor Dec 4,2012 at 5:02 pm

    I found this article really interesting, as an EYPS candidate I can’t believe the difference between an early years graduate and a teacher. I feel that the EYP status has not been advertised well enough by government as most parents and some practitioners are not aware of what the role means and what an EYP does. The CWDC could do more work on providing information about the role in settings.

    On a positive note I loved this article and agree that any adult who is engaging and stimulating a child is being a ‘teacher’ no matter what their status/qualifications may be.

    • Kathy Dec 5,2012 at 12:01 am

      Many thanks for your comment Sally.
      I’m pleased you liked the article. I would totally agree that the Status needs more promotion. The CWDC doesn’t exist any more, but I’ve noticed adverts in Nursery World and other magazines supporting EYPS, so I’m still hopeful.

      Very best of luck with the EYPS,


  • Penny Webb Aug 25,2012 at 2:29 pm

    Interesting points of view about the view of child – and I totally agree – the child does not care what the person looking after them is called. I firmly believe that a happy child with a caring adult will learn through play and every day experiences.

    I also believe in the need for all those caring for young children to have a knowledge of child development and to understand ‘why’.

    As to formal qualifications – level 3, degree, EYPS ( and all others) there are in my opinion two decided factors that determine if the qualification is worth the paper it is written on. First is the quality of teaching of that qualification and second is the implementation of knowledge gained – and this should be through practice, and through peer to peer support.

    I also totally agree that early years practitioners – at all levels, will continue to receive the lowest pay levels until recognition is given to the fact that if care and education is not of high quality – then children will not reach their full potential because the foundations of learning have to be in place – well before formal education starts.

    And yes – all of those who have anything to do with young children will be ‘teachers’ – and it has to be remembered children will absorb both the ‘good stuff’ and the ‘bad stuff’

  • Kathy Jun 22,2011 at 9:28 pm

    Thanks for both of your comments.

    Anne: I would agree about the pay differential, its a difficult one, especially at the moment.

    Suzanne: It’s really interesting to hear about Sweden, Suzanne. Particularly as in the UK Sweden is held in high regard with its pedagogy. How super to hear how it is in real life!
    You also raise an important point about understanding child development. It is essential staff have an understanding of the Why as well as the What To Do. I always tell my EYP candidates that there are only 3 questions on the course – Why? Why? Why?

    Kathy Brodie

  • Suzanne Jun 22,2011 at 3:57 pm

    In Sweden the training for preschool teachers and teachers is conducted at the same place, the same length of time and results in the same qualification – just aimed at different age ranges. Unfortunately the preschool teacher earns less money, gets less planning hours, less holiday (there are no half terms, Easter/ Christmas holidays – and only three weeks on summer instead of the 10 that teachers get). if a teacher is sick he or she will be replaced with a substitute, if a preschool teacher is sick she MIGHT be replaced – often we have to manage. When looking for new staff the job centre often try to send unqualified people to the interviews – demonstrating how little respect they have for the job.

    I don’t believe its because its new, I reckon working with the youngest members of society is just not regarded with the respect it ought to, and in Sweden we have had university educated teachers in preschools for a LONG time – and still there is little respect.

    And sometimes all the enthusiasm in the world doesn’t compensate for not understanding why you are doing what you are doing with the children – and how you can help them further understand their own processes – and being sensitive when to ask questions and give support and when to allow them the space to try themselves – or even why its so important to sometimes get over personal phobias and touch that worm!!

    I hope one day that those of us working with early years do get the FULL recognition that we deserve.

  • Anne Gladstone Jun 22,2011 at 10:04 am

    Completely agree with everything you say but I think it is unfortunately the case that the status of teachers and EYPs is unlikely to be considered equal when the pay differential is still so big.

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