With summer holidays fast approaching (or perhaps here already) and the country gripped in world cup fever, it would be easy to think that there’s not a lot going on in the world of early years.
As ever, we’re here to do the hard work, trawling through every scrap of early years news to bring you the very best stories for the month of July. Here’s our top ten this time around.
1. Guns in early years play
A survey by daynurseries.co.uk has revealed that almost four out of every five nurseries in the UK have banned toy guns. Many early years providers in the UK have put these rules in place as part of their Prevent Duty policies, but there is a fear that such policies are a case of adults ‘controlling children’s imaginative play’.
While some owners have provided a more balanced view of the issue, drawing a line between allowing open-ended role play and actively encouraging children to bring guns in, managers like Greg Lane from LEYF nurseries makes a strong case for ensuring they’re present.
2. Funding gaps and rising closures
Nearly a year on from the introduction of the 30 hours policy, the NDNA national survey results are in, and the results are pretty damning. Here are just some of the key findings:
- The funding gap between the cost of delivery and the funding received has grown to £2,166 per year, per child.
- These charges are often passed onto parents, with almost half of respondents charging parents up to £10 a day in add-ons.
- Providers are losing at least one staffing day each week just to deal with the new system.
- Nursery closures have increased by 47% on the previous year.
- The top three challenges for most nurseries are increasing staff wages, dealing with admin, and achieving profit.
- 19% of nurseries now expect to make a loss.
- 71% of nurseries plan to increase their fees.
+ In other funding news, a group of Conservative MPs have warned that funding for state-run nurseries must be protected at all costs, with Early Years Minister Nadhim Zahawi providing his response on the BBC’s today programme. Meanwhile, the DfE has dismissed recommendations from the Treasury Committee that the funding rate for 30 hours should be raised.
3. Early learning own goals
The pilot of revised early learning goals (ELGs) will begin in September, with the government branding it as a boost to early language skills and an effort to cut teacher workload. 25 schools across the country will trial the new end-of-reception targets, which split up the same old seven main areas and sub-areas in different ways. To find out more, take a look at the:
- Pilot statutory framework for the early years foundation stage
- Pilot early years foundation stage profile 2018 handbook
The pilot will end in 2019, and it’s worth mentioning that the changes are unlikely to affect providers until the complete revamp of the EYFS profile comes into force in 2021.
+ The new ELGs haven’t gone down well with everyone. After it was discovered that very few early years experts had been involved, a petition involving 5,000 signatures has called for a halt to the pilot. A detailed commentary from Early Education has called the new ELGs an effective re-write of the whole EYFS ‘by the back door’.
4. Baseline to get off the starting line?
The new baseline assessment will start it’s own trial in September as part of the development process, according to new guidance released by the government. The news comes in the same month as a damning report from a leading educational research body which concludes that the baseline assessment proposal is not fit for purpose and would be detrimental to children, parents, teachers and the wider education system.
++ TES have this month launched one of their regular ‘Long Reads’, and this time it’s from renowned early years expert Sue Cowley, all about the recent problems with Ofsted, baseline assessments and the new ELGs.
5. Free EYFS activity and SEN guides for you
We’ve also been busy beavers this month, and we’ve produced two of our best free guides yet.
First, we released our EYFS Activity Guide, which contains 50 free early years activities for you to try. The guide contains all the instructions you need to give the activities a go, all linked to the relevant EYFS areas and accompanied by beautiful illustrations.
Our second guide is all about creating a welcoming environment for children with SEN. The complete guide covers the basics, what you need to have in place, as well as activities, teaching methods, and general ideas to improve the experience of children with SEN at your setting.
You can see all of our free guides in the Books and Guides section of our blog.
6. Some numbers to ponder
If you’re a fan of getting stuck into some cold hard data, the government has released something that you might be interested in.
The data on childcare providers and inspections as at 31 March 2018 contains all the information on registered childcare providers, their inspection outcomes and the numbers that have left and joined.
The data shows that the number of childminders registered continues to plummet, while more than nine out of ten providers were judged to be good or outstanding.
7. The child development round-up
There has been plenty of new child development studies worthy of your attention this month. Here are just a few of them:
- What babies know about their bodies and themselves – New research from The University of Washington has explored babies releationship with the sense of touch. The study looked into neural activity as the babies were tapped in different places, helping to build a better picture of how babies respond to this key sense.
- Giving more vitamin D from birth – New research suggests that pregnant women and babies should be monitored more closely on their vitamin D intake, as a result of a recent surge in rickets. It turns out that many babies and mothers may need to be taking supplements to help prevent the disease.
- Kids better at delaying gratification – Despite what everyone might say about ‘today’s kids’ having short attention spans and lower patience, it turns out that preschoolers are actually far better than 60s kids at the classic Marshmallow test.
8. Lunch time!
A number of reports this month have shed some interesting light on eating habits in the early years. For babies, it’s been discovered that feeding them solid foods earlier may help them sleep, while the New York Times released an article explaining how using popular puréed food pouches can mean children miss out on key developmental skills that contribute to healthy eating habits.
Elsewhere, paediatric dental chief Claire Stevens has urged nurseries to help teach children that they should ‘spit not rinse’ when they are brushing their teeth.
9. The business bit
July has brought with it plenty of nursery business news stories, including the usual slew of takeovers and expansions:
- Storal Learning acquires seventh setting
- Cranbrook Day Nurseries acquires three-setting Elan Nurseries
- Kids Planet snaps up 26th setting
- Yorkshire group Shine Childcare takes over nursery number four
- Hornsea Nursery School opens East Yorkshire’s first outdoor nursery and forest school
- Poppies Day Nurseries opens setting number six
- Harrogate Borough Council introduces 50% reduction in business rates for nurseries
10. In other news
+ A robotic AI may well provide a helping hand in helping autistic children to read and understand emotions.
+ Famed US children’s TV legend Mr Rogers had a very specific set of rules to make sure every child would understand his shows.