It’s been a mixed Autumn so far for childcare providers.
While studies continue to come out proving the value and importance of quality early years provision, it’s not clear that everyone’s listening. With no extra money for early years in the Autumn Budget, and maintained nurseries facing increasing hardship, it’s a challenging time to be a nursery, pre-school, or childminder.
We’ve covered all these stories in this quick 10-minute read so you can stay updated on all the issues that are affecting you as 2018 begins to draw to a close.
1. Early years care is crucial
A new study published in the BMJ has found that children in professional early years care come out the other side with better social skills and less behavioural issues compared to those in informal care.
The study on 1428 children in France showed that children in formal care were less likely to be hyperactive, have emotional issues, or find difficulty making friends compared to their peers who had been looked after by family or friends.
Chief Executive of the NDNA, Purnima Tanuku, commented, saying “This research reiterates what early years experts have been saying for many years. Giving all children the best start in life is key to a happy, productive society.”
+ A report by the OECD has highlighted the importance of early education in reducing the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged families.
2. The Autumn Budget 2018
Nursery World might have run down the ‘key points for early years’ in the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget, but the truth is – it’s slim pickings.
After charities made a call for the government to do more for children in the budget and a petition to axe business rates for nurseries hit 10,000 signatures, the sector was hopeful for some good news.
But sadly, the calls were unheard, and the Autumn Budget included no extra provisions for the early years, in a move branded ‘a kick in the teeth for the early years sector’.
+ The bad news for 30 hours keeps coming, despite what the government might say. A report by Ceeda showed more than two in five settings are on less funding than in 2013, and that poorest areas will be hit the hardest by the cuts.
+ Meanwhile, Children’s Minister Nadhim Zahawi has promised a ‘deep dive’ into nursery costs, while still denying that nursery closures are widespread. A little hint Mr Zahawi – they’re pretty widespread.
3. EYFS development improving
The DfE has released the 2017-2018 results of the Early Years Foundation Stage profile, and things are on the up.
The percentage of children achieving a good level of development is continuing to increase and, while girls continue to do better than boys, the gender gap has decreased in many key measures.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, however. As Stella Ziolkowski from the NDNA points out, there are still some deeply concerning figures, particularly that there are still many children who are only achieving ’emerging’ in at least one of the early learning goals.
4. Going plastic-free
After their campaign on glitter earlier in the year, a Tops Day Nurseries setting in Hamsphire has become the first nursery to achieve the Plastic Free Schools accreditation in the UK.
Initially designed just for schools, the fact that Tops Day Nursery in Havant has achieved the award shows a dedication to going above and beyond for the environment.
Wondering what you can do to help look after the planet your children will be growing up into? Check out our brand-new, free guide on sustainability and the early years, with expert guidance from Vanessa Warn, owner of Little Green Rascals.
5. The month in child development
Again, it was tough to cram everything in this month, with so many fascinating child development studies out. Here are the highlights:
- Exposure to real-world language and adult-child conversations are crucial to neural development, even more so than vocabulary alone.
- Children as young as nine are more lilely to learn with a peer according to research studying how babies can learn from on-screen instructions.
- Complex baby babble may make children strong readers when they grow up, according to a study showing that some skills for literacy may be developed earlier than we thought.
- A study found that poor sleep in babies could be linked to higher obesity risk in later life, as training parents on effective sleep support was shown to have an effect on obesity rates.
- Preschoolers still love to draw and paint, despite a clear increase in access to internet-enabled devices.
- A focus on phonics in the early years has been criticised by parents, teachers and headteachers in a new survey on approaches to child reading.
6. The fight to save maintained nurseries
Children’s centres are facing a cull across the country. Nursery World report that 24 have closed in the last 12 months, with 64 more earmarked for closure.
Is there hope? Campaigners across the country are uniting to save maintained nurseries, with rallies in Salford, Tower Hamlets, and Nottingham.
+ Probably not the best time for Health Secretary Matt Hancock to talk about building more nurseries in NHS hospitals in order to increase inter-generational mixing, with funding to so many existing ones being gutted.
7. Health is wealth
Early child nutrition is back on the agenda in a big way this month, with news that England is lagging way behind other EU countries in terms of child health.
The report from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health about what child health will look like in 2030 makes for pretty grim reading, predicting that one in three deprived boys will be obese, and mental health problems will increase in young people by 60%.
+ London Mayor Sadiq Khan has launched an awards scheme for early years setting who support children’s health, well-being and development. Find out how you can get involved here.
+ How clued up are you on child nutrition? It turns out 82% of UK parents expect their childcare provider to be experts on the latest nutritional guidance. Level up your knowledge with our free guide to early years nutrition, made in collaboration with paediatric dietitian Lindsay Gilbert.
8. An ‘imploding’ childcare scheme in Scotland?
Nurseries are warning that Scotland’s childcare expansion is on the brink of disaster. Problems are centred around numbers of staff, premise size, and underfunding. With many providers threatening to band together and not offer the funding, there are concerns the whole scheme could collapse unless action is taken immediately.
+ The Scottish government has launched a new fund to get more men enrolled on childcare courses. Colleges across Scotland can bid for a share of the £50,000 pot to run projects aimed at increasing male enrolment.
+ Are you a provider in Scotland? Famly has become the first all-in-one platform to include child development support for the whole curriculum alongside nursery management features. Find out more and sign up for your personal demo today.
9. The Ofsted bit
The world of nursery business has been a little quiet this month (Just Childcare’s movements aside), but Ofsted have had quite a bit to say. So instead of our usual business section, this month we’ve got a little catch up with what’s been happening over on the dark side.
- Amanda Spielmen announces a move away from outcomes-led inspections
- Ofsted blames iPhones for preventing staff from singing
- People who start working before their DBS comes through should not be left unsupervised with children.
- Former Ofsted inspector sits down with Daynurseries.co.uk for a chat on ‘the big day’
- Our guide to outstanding with five outstanding managers is still free to download and access whenever you need it.
10. In other news
+ This furniture specially designed for a nursery in the West Midlands has already helped to improve children’s development.
+ A new initiative to get children to run a mile every day at a nursery in Greater Manchester has left them ‘more focused and calmer’.
+ Will childcare robots soon become the norm? We certainly hope not…
+ We loved the picture of Daniel Craig holding his child in a baby carrier. Luckily the internet (for the most part) agreed.