Famly Briefing

All the important nursery news, none of the fuss.

After 19 months of providing you with this here early years news roundup, we’ve finally hit Famly Briefing number 20.

And what a briefing it is! We’ve got great stories on the importance of play, the latest on the 30 hours and all of the child development studies that matter.

No time for celebrating then – let’s get cracking!

1. Time to prescribe play?

An interesting story from the other side of the pond, as The American Academy of Pediatrics have told doctors they should be prescribing free play for children. Even better, some doctors have started doing just that.

Charting the intrinsic motivation for play, the joyful discoveries it involves and the plentiful learning opportunities present, the Academy has recommended the prescription on the basis that play is ‘under siege’.

++ We loved this piece on Wales’ decision in 2010 to enshrine a child’s right to play in law while this opinion piece on the problematic growth of using a child’s ‘busyness as a badge of honour’ offered plenty of great insights too.

++ We’ve been doing our best to spread the positive message of play, with our two recent pieces on the power of loose parts play, and how to introduce more constructive play to your setting.

2. Missing: 11,000 teachers

A study completed by charity Save the Children has concluded that there is almost 11,000 early years teachers missing from nurseries and preschools throughout England.

Using Freedom of Information requests, the charity discovered that more than half of nurseries, playgroups and children’s centres lack staff with a QTS, EYTS, or EYPS qualficiation. “All of our little ones should have access to nursery care led by an early years teacher.” explained Save the Children’s Steve McIntosh. “Without action, we’ll be letting down our next generation.”

3. Save our vouchers

With the childcare voucher scheme due to close on the 4th October, the #saveourchildcarevouchers campaign has received support from over 70 employers throughout England.

The vouchers, used by many UK employers, allow employees to take up to £55 of their wages as tax-free vouchers. The scheme is due to be replaced by the tax-free childcare scheme, which has promised a fairer system available to all. Studies suggest, however, that many families may be better off with childcare vouchers than the new government scheme.

4. Does funded childcare even work?

A year on from the beginning of the 30 hours funded childcare introduction, more and more controversy around the scheme continues to arise.

Two separate reports claim that there is insufficient evidence that the government is putting it’s money in the right place when it comes to children’s outcomes. While high-quality provision undoubtedly improves outcomes, it is unclear as to what this high-quality provision is and how we get there, the two bodies behind the reports said today in a joint statement.

++ A PACEY study discovered that local authorities are placing requirements on providers that are contrary to government guidance. The study also reported that 40% of nurseries and preschools say the scheme has hit them financially.

++ A year on, perhaps the scheme’s failings are finally reaching a broader audience, with this article from ITV detailing in depth some of the most problematic areas of the scheme.

5. The month in child development

Lots to chew through this month, from universities and research centres across the globe:

  • Toddlers aware of how others evaluate them – A study from journal Development Today has found that todllers as young as 24 months are aware that others may be judging them, changing their behaviour accordingly to elicit a positive response.
  • The power of ‘baby talk’ – The more ‘baby talk’ a child is exposed to, the quicker they tend to grasp language. Researchers found the words that ended in a ‘y’ sound or words that repeat sounds like ‘choo-choo’ are especially powerful.
  • Incy Wincy Spider can discover autism – Researchers have found that by measuring responses to simple nursery rhymes like ‘Incy Wincy Spider’, they can spot autism in babies as young as four months old.
  • Robots to influence children more strongly – One for the future. Studies have suggested that, while adults are broadly impervious to being swayed by robots, young children find it more difficult to distinguish, making them more likely to have their opinions changed.
6. National practitioner day

Co-op Childcare is set to hold it’s first annual National Practitioner Day on 17 October – and it wants other nurseries to join in.

The day will be all about celebrating the amazing work that nursery practitioners do every day, as well as highlighting some of the staffing shortages that are plaguing the sector.

7. Halving the literacy gap

Education Secretary Damien Hinds has announced a pledge to halve the number of pupils who arrive at school behind in reading and talking by 2028.

It came as Hinds pronounced the current literacy gap a ‘scandal’, and has brought together a team from various charities and organisations to discover how to close the gap, thought by many to be a major factor in harming social mobility.

8. The media meet Prevent

A story on a nursery dropping Ofsted rating on the basis of not meeting the requirements of Prevent has received across-the-board national coverage.

Almost all of the nationals covered the story, which left many parents and a local councillor angered, and was broadly presented as a spectacle amounting to nurseries needing to monitor ‘jihadis’ in the early years.

So what is it? A case of Prevent-gone-mad, or a national misunderstanding of the important role early years plays in deradicalisation of children? We’ll leave that one up to you.

10. In other news

+ This outstanding nursery in Liverpool has sadly closed down after the council decided it was time to move the police HQ.

+ We loved this story from the states about a preschool that takes a unique approach to parent relationships.

+ Parents provide the perfect response to nursery that tells them to dress their baby ‘more girly’.

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