The July and August months have traditionally been a quiet month for news of all sorts. Normally, the early years is no different.
But not this time.
We’ve got news on a shake-up of qualifications from the DfE, worrying news about toxic slime toys, and plenty more beyond. So slip on those shades, get yourself a glass of something cold, and take five minutes with the top stories of the month.
1. Qualification conundrums
The DfE has released new criteria for Level 2 early years qualifications. The new qualifications place stronger requirements on knowledge of some key skills, including safeguarding, parental involvement and support of children with special educational needs and disabilities.
The updated criteria has been received positively across the sector, with Stella Ziolkowski from the NDNA calling the new standards ‘relevant and up to date’.
++ The government has controversially scrapped their commitment to boosting graduates and allowing Early Years Teachers to teach in schools, dropping it from the early years workforce strategy. Nadhim Zahawi labelled the commitment no longer necessary, citing positive Ofsted ratings across deprived areas, and evidence from the SEED study into children in disadvantaged areas.
++ The DfE has U-turned on their initial plan to require as little as 40 days training for T-Level work placements. They have agreed to consult on setting a higher minimum after growing concern in the sector that the current pilot scheme is too short.
2. Missing: A new strategic partner
The strategic early years and childcare partnership faces an uncertain future, as the current contract with Action for Children comes to a close.
The person in charge of the partnership at Action for Children, Sue Robb, is due to leave to take up a new job in Australia, and the DfE has not confirmed whether a new strategic partner will be sought.
3. Lobbying in Westminster
More than 100 childcare providers have visited Westminster to lobby for 30 hours reform. The so-called ‘lobby day’ gave the group a chance to discuss their concerns with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Childcare and Early Education before the spending review which will take place soon.
++ MPs have announced plans to review the support it gives to families from pre-birth to two.
++ A number of Opposition MPs from Labour, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats have called for a debate on childcare vouchers in parliament, claiming that the schemes to replace them are not fit for purpose.
4. Time to ditch the plastic?
Wondering about the impact of a more natural environment on behaviour, focus and attainment in your early years setting? We were lucky enough to interview the Curiosity Approach team on that very subject.
They talk about the problems with closed, plastic resources, the benefit of a more neutral colour scheme, and why sustainability matters to them.
Watch this space for even more green and sustainable stories in the coming weeks, as we prepare for our sustainability and environment guide to come out at the end of this month.
++ Looking for ways to encourage green thinking in your setting? Well it turns out science might hold the answer…
5. The month in child development
Plenty of interesting studies and news stories this month, from Maths to overeating, and from culture to ELGs.
- Maths programme boosts development – A pilot scheme run by the NDNA called Maths Champions has helped three-year-olds make almost two extra months progress on their peers. The study also shows that the overall maths provision improved through the program.
- Tackling over-eating from birth – A report from the government has suggested that 75% of babies and toddlers may be eating more than they should. Public Health England has also published official advice on the matter, recommending breastfeeding until six months, no cows milk until 12 months, and a reduction in high sugar or salt foods.
- Revised ELGs get an expert grilling – Nursery World spoke to experts across every area of the EYFS to assess the new ELGs, with many adding to the widespread concern associated with these new goals.
- How does culture influence children’s development? – This piece from a University of Bournemouth psychology lecturer leaves plenty of food for thought. The piece considers the impact of language, parenting styles, and how children are taught to relate to others.
6. £60m for Wales
A £60m fund has been pledged to set up new welsh nurseries or refurbish existing ones. The money will be available to both local authorities and private providers over the next three years, as the Welsh Labour Party gets to work on their pledge to deliver 30 hours of funded childcare for three and four-year-olds.
++ A recent NDNA survey has revealed that the vast majority of Welsh nurseries are likely to deliver the childcare offer, with 59% of those delivering the policy in pilot areas saying the £4.50 funding rate is in line with parent costs.
7. Slimy and unsafe?
Are any of the children in your setting mad about slime? After consumer group Which? tested many of the top brands making the popular potted plaything, they found that 8 out of 11 had higher than recommended levels of the chemical boron.
These high levels of boron could lead to irritation, diarrhoea, vomiting and cramps, and it’s even thought that it could lead to fertility problems later in life. You can find out which brands contain safe levels of the chemicals over here.
8. The cost of summer
The cost of holiday childcare has increased by 4% compared to last year, with the summer holiday now costing around £800 in childcare costs on average per child for six weeks of holiday care.
The figures from the Family and Childcare Trust come amid research that shows holiday clubs may have a wider impact on child health and well-being than was previously thought.
9. The business bit
Just two big business stories this month – but they’re biggies!
10. In other news
+ Tissue at the ready? This 4-year-old made a new best friend – a 91-year-old man in the early stages of dementia.
+ Want to know what your youngest will sound like as adults? Turns out that their cries could give you a pretty good indication.
+The Nursery World Awards shortlist for 2018 has been announced. You can take a look at the people and providers up for a gong over here.