What’s better than a monthly five-minute guide to all the early years news that matters?
Well, how about a video too?
This month, we’re trialling a new approach to the monthly Famly Briefing which is accompanied with a video going over all the key talking points.
What do you think? We’d love to know your thoughts on how we could improve – just send out an email to Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s the chump in the video, and the chump writing these words. And the chump that loves writing in the third person.
1. A new Ofsted Inspection Framework
Ah, so you like it the old-school written way. We dig it.
First up, Ofsted. This month has seen the release of the brand new Inspection Framework proposal, covering everything from early years right up to further education. The proposed framework is now under consultation until 5 April 2019, and will take effect with any confirmed changes at the start of the school year in September. You can have your say here.
The consultation details a shift in inspections towards learning, rather than just ‘teaching to the test’, while there is a new judgement called ‘quality of education’. A separate behaviour judgement will now also be made.
In general, there seem to be lots of positive changes in the proposed framework that many settings have been calling out for.
The sector has responded well to calls to simplify paperwork, put more trust in managers’ knowledge, and to emphasise the increased focus on CoEL. Equally, some concerns have been raised about a shift towards a school-based inspection focus, and the renewed focus on behaviour, which may not be developmentally appropriate in the early years.
Here are some key pieces to read if you want to learn more:
2. Ceeda find huge skills shortage
The Early Years Sector Skills Survey has been published by Ceeda, detailing a worrying overview of the skills level across the sector.
Their findings show that almost four times as many settings report skills shortages among their workers when compared to all other sectors. These skills gaps are having an impact on staff workloads and making it far higher to maintain quality standards, according to the report.
+ The reasons behind these numbers are surely multi-faceted. But another report this month showing more than 33% of staff claiming benefits and tax credits combines with the skills report to paint a bleak picture for staff in the sector. It seems ongoing real-term wage cuts, funding shortages, and ever-changing education standards are beginning to take their toll.
+ The report did produce some positive news on directly employed male staff, showing that the number has risen to 4%. It is clear that this is still not high enough, and researchers from the Fatherhood Institute and Lancaster Unviersity have this month launched a two-year study to understand obstacles for men entering the sector and to find solutions to raise the number.
3. How to win friends and influence people
Is preparing children for the big move up to reception class all about maths, reading, and writing skills? Not if you ask the ones that really matter.
The first study of school preparedness to actually survey children themselves has uncovered 25 different priorities children consider important. Chief among them was the social skills necessary to find friends, as well as the confidence to ask for the toilet, being able to play creatively, and other skills not typically measured in school preparedness programmes.
4. Child health in 2019
A follow up to the influential 2017 RCPCH report on the state of child health has received an update two years on. The report paints positive strokes for children in England, celebrating their placement at the heart of NHS reform, and supporting the governments increased movements towards mental health and obesity.
However, as Nursery World reports, it’s not all rosy. Cuts to key public health services and the continued disruption of Brexit is ensuring that these promises are not getting the focus and money they need to bear fruit. The report also notes a lack of improvement in breastfeeding rates, reductions in child poverty and inequality, infant mortality, and tobacco and alcohol control.
+ Change 4 life has developed a number of resources for early years settings and primary schools to help children cut sugar. They are designed for use in maths and English-focused sessions, helping children to understand how much sugar is actually in the food and drink they consume.
5. Building resilience and perseverance
Look, we don’t mind tooting our own trumpet from time to time, and this week we’ve brought out a really strong piece all about building resilience and perseverance in young children.
You’ll learn the key difference between the two terms, and actionable strategies to build more perseverance and resilience in the children at your setting. You might even pick up how to spell the incredibly tricky ‘perseverance’. I still haven’t managed it without spell check.
6. The month in child development
Here are the studies worth paying attention to from the last month:
- A report has reconfirmed the widely acknowledged fact that reading is crucial to early language skills, after showing that parents who read regularly to pre-school-aged children understand information better.
- Children influence their learning environment, by changing the way adults speak with them according to this study researching why children with Autism Spectirum Disorder vary greatly in their language abilities.
- Kids might just prefer to make friends with people who talk like they do, says this study investigating the effect of regional accents on developing friendships in young children.
- Rythmic gesture during storytime can help children improve oral skillsbecause they help children to remember the information and understand it.
- Controlling behaviour with screen time threats or rewards only leads to more screen time, according to researchers from the University of Guelph. This is probably because it heightens a child’s attraction to the activity, which should be restricted to only two hours a day according to the API, despite last months’ findings of no adverse effect on development.
7. The divide between rich and poor
Last month we covered worrying news that the gap between children on free school meals and their peers is widening.
This month, Christie & Co. have set out to highlight the growing divide between rich and poor nurseries, with their managing director of childcare and education raising the issue of the growing divide between more affluent nurseries and their struggling equivalents.
“Nurseries doing well are doing very well,” explained Courtney Donaldson. “These are well prepared for 30 hours, in locations which are more affluent.” They can afford to reinvest in their business and people, she says, while nurseries on the other end of the scale are barely struggling to survive the rising costs.
+ A big part of this inequality story is surely the rise in closures of children’s centres and council-run nurseries. This month, we’ve seen agreements to close 38 of the 53 children centres in Norfolk, and increasing uncertainty around the potential closure of five council-run nurseries in Salford.
8. 30 Hours and twos
New research has suggested that a common concern regarding 30 hours may be coming to fruition. That the gross underfunding of the scheme is having an effect of the take-up of disadvantaged two-year-olds.
Findings from an analysis by the Education Policy found that in some local areas, there is a correlation between more children accessing 30 hours and lower take-up for disadvantaged two-year-olds. The concern is that the inadequate funding levels have left providers having to choose – and for the most part they’ve prioritised the older children.
+ In Wales, the people have campaigned strongly for fairer funding. And it looks like the government might be starting to listen.
9. The business bit
Not a massive month for childcare business news this month, but there are a couple of stories worth following:
10. In other news
+ BookTrust have launched a new early years book award, celebrating the best books for babies and children under five. The shortlist will be revealed on 27 May 2019.
+ We thought this article by Michael Rosen was, as ever, an invigorating read – as he attacks the recent DfE attempts to cover over policy cracks with half-hearted schemes.
+ Given representing themselves can be very difficult for young children, this study asked, how do children actually go about drawing themselves? Interestingly, it’s got a lot to do with who will see the piece after it’s all finished.