A programme to develop a new generation of outstanding graduate leaders for the early years sector has been given the go ahead by the government.

The New Leaders in Early Years programme is being launched by the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC) in conjunction with Canterbury Christ Church University. The programme is now recruiting graduates who have the capability to become outstanding leaders and demonstrate high levels of knowledge and skills and a strong commitment to achieve the best for all young children.

Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent is recruiting 30 high calibre graduates with at least a 2.1 honours degree, to begin the new post-graduate programme in November. A further 30 graduates will be recruited in autumn 2011.

Children’s Minister Sarah Teather, said:

New Leaders in Early Years is a fantastic new programme designed to encourage the very best graduates to sign up to be leaders in the Early Years sector.  New Leaders in Early Years will help to raise the profile and status of those working with young children – which is crucial to giving every child the opportunity and confidence to grow and achieve in life. I hope that talented and committed men and women will sign up to be a part of this exciting new opportunity.”

Thom Crabbe, National Manager for Early Years at CWDC, said:

“EYPS is demonstrating the contribution that graduate level professional training has in improving the quality of early years provision. New Leaders in Early Years builds on that success and offers a funded two year programme to achieve EYPS and an Early Years masters degree. Participants will also work in the sector introducing them to a demanding, challenging and highly rewarding career they may not have previously considered.

High quality early years provision requires talented, committed practitioners at all levels working with our youngest children. We hope the programme will introduce new entrants who will go on to become first class leaders in the sector in the future.”

New Leaders in Early Years has been developed specifically for the early years sector and aims to recruit entrants who, alongside their qualifications, display the aptitude and ability for working in early years and making a difference for the under 5s. They may be new graduates, career changers or those returning from a career break. The programme offers students intensive mentoring and support throughout the two years, including a strong emphasis on progression in the sector after they graduate. Following extensive placements in early years settings during the first year, students will be in a substantive working role in their second year, whilst completing their masters and other aspects of the programme.

Students will be offered a package comparable to other current graduate professional development programmes, alongside a wealth of personal development and learning opportunities to equip them with the best skills and experience to become leaders in early years.

Further information about the New Leaders in Early Years programme, including details for potential applicants, is available at http://www.newleaders.org.uk or by emailing info@newleaders.org.uk