Part of achieving the Early Years Professional Status (EYPS) involves going through the EYPS Gateway Review. The course providers make a really big deal out of it, which can be a little daunting at first.
However, the Gateway Review is not an exam, so candidates can’t fail. It’s more of a guidance to ensure that candidates are on track for their final assessment setting visit.
The Gateway Review is (supposedly) designed, first, to check that candidates understand the 39 EYPS standards (don’t worry though, just UNDERSTANDING them is fine, you don’t have to recite them from memory or anything like that).
Secondly, the Gateway Review is meant to assess three skills generic to working as an Early Years Professional (EYP) and fundamental to meeting the 39 EYPS standards.
The three skills are:
- The ability to make decisions on the basis of sound judgment
- The ability to lead and support others
- The ability to relate to, and communicate with, others
In order to assess these three skills and our understanding of the 39 EYPS standards, we lucky candidates get to go through a series of four different exercises, all in one day:
1. Personal interview
A 25 minute one-on-one interview with an assessor who discussed me, my role, and my preparation for the assessment setting visit. This was a bit unsettling for me, because I’m used to more ‘conversational’ types of interviews, whereas in this case, the assessor appeared to have a defined list of questions which she was not allowed to stray from.
In addition to that, she had to record what I said verbatim (word for word). So rather than making eye contact with me, nodding and smiling, she was mostly facing downwards at her sheets of paper and furiously scribbling away.
Because she wasn’t giving off any body language signals, I also didn’t really know when I should stop talking, so I just went on and on till I felt it would be awkward if I said any more. Me me me!
2. Written exercise
I was given 5 scenarios of the sort I might encounter as an Early Years Practitioner, along with how I might handle them. I was meant to identify the issues at hand, and how I would handle them in regards to the short term and the long term.
So for example, one scenario was a parent complaining that the childcare setting forces her child to do too much outdoor play, and she would stop sending her child there if nothing was done.
This exercise felt quite rushed for me, because we only had about 5 minutes for each scenario. I also wasn’t exactly sure of the requirements, like where it said ‘identify the issues’, would I have to spell out everything in each scenario, i.e. the parent is unhappy with something, I have to communicate with her in an understanding manner, taking into concerns her own personal situation, etc etc etc.
3. Group exercise
This exercise had me in a room with 3 other candidates and 3 assessors. We took turns giving a 4 minute presentation which we’d prepared earlier on an element of change we had introduced in our settings. We were then given a topic to discuss for about 15 minutes.
As luck would have it, the random draw resulted in me going first. It was a pretty straightforward exercise, so unless you break down at the thought of a few other people in the room listening to you speak, there shouldn’t be any problems.
The group discussion also went well. We were meant to identify three factors that were important and common in our aspects of change. However, I assume there were no wrong answers, and the assessors were just interested to see how we worked as a team.
4. Interview with actor
My first roleplaying experience! I was the manager of a setting, meeting with a parent, with an invisible assessor in the room. The parent’s child had been facing issues in the setting, and that’s why we were having the discussion.
I felt that I didn’t really have much control during this exercise. The actor had a tendency to speak a LOT, and sort of led the whole exercise. For example, before I had the chance to politely probe into what might be causing the child’s behaviour, he started telling me long stories of how he was divorced, and the child’s mother was overseas, and he has several part time jobs, etc etc etc.
I mean, how often do you meet a parent who goes, “Hi, I’m Bob. Nice day isn’t it? I’m divorced and don’t spend enough time with my child.”
After the four exercises were done, candidates were required to complete a written reflection of the day’s activities. Of course, I was too relieved at having finished the exercises, and I thought the written reflection was more of a feedback form, so I didn’t really take it seriously.
The next day, I had a visit from my mentor, who coincidentally was also one of my assessors for the Gateway Review. She was full of praise and positive feedback, so I felt that the Gateway Review had gone really really well for me.
A few weeks later though, I received written feedback on my strengths and ‘development points’ (why can’t they just call them weaknesses, sheesh). Unlike the earlier picture painted by my mentor however, there seemed to be a whole lot of ‘development points’!
I’m not saying I’m perfect, but it really just felt like the development points were there for the sake of being there, i.e. assessors were required to give development points, and so were heavily focused on searching for negative aspects to point out.
All-in-all, it was an interesting and not overly stressful experience for me. However, I didn’t really feel that it contributed much to my preparation for the assessment setting visit. Ah well, maybe it means I’m already prepared!