I know, I know, we’re a week late. Awfully sorry about that. But all that really means is there’s room for even more early years news than normal.
This month’s action-packed instalment features the latest on the baseline, a minimum wage rise, music licenses, physical activity and the lowdown on the latest early years buzzword – cultural capital.
1. What is cultural capital?
When Ofsted brought out their draft inspection framework in January, nobody seemed to be taking too much notice of page 10, paragraph 3:
Last month, it seemed everyone started taking notice of that final part – cultural capital. The problem is, cultural capital is a pretty complex concept. It encompasses all the values and understanding that we acquire through our cultural surroundings or class. The implication is that Ofsted think certain children might not have the cultural capital they need to bridge the achievement gap.
However, as Helen Moylet notes in Nursery World and also here on Early Education, the inclusion throws up many problems. Not least, that it’s too complex a concept to just tack onto the end of a paragraph and hope people get it. What’s more, how do we know that Ofsted will value every child’s individual cultural capital, rather than adhering to a singular idea of the values and understanding that middle-class children receive? Right now, all we have is a lot of unanswered questions.
+ There’s also interesting input from June Sullivan about how they’ve included cultural capital in their curriculum at LEYF.
+ More Ofsted bad press. Early Years Alliance’s Michael Freeston worries the EYFS is ‘not recognised’ in the draft framework. A change to the appeals process will allow the officer who cancelled a registration to review the setting’s objections. And PACEY’s Susanna Kalitowski criticises the divergence between schools and early years handbooks, accusing Ofsted of creating a ‘two-tier’ system.
2. New physical activity guidelines
For the very first time, the World Health Organisation (WHO) have released physical activity guidelines for under-fives.
The big news is that they recommend zero screen time for one-year-olds, and no more than an hour a day for two to four-year-olds. The guidelines also include guidance on sleep, types of movement, variety of movement and intensity. You can see a brief breakdown of the guidelines over here.
+ A trial of a new early years prevention strategy named HENRY has helped Leeds to cut their rates of child obesity by 9.4%.
3. Rethinking Behaviour – A brand new guide
Last month we launched a brand new free guide all about how we can rethink our approach to behaviour in the early years.
It includes chapters from behaviour expert Sue Cowley all about self-regulation, dealing with extreme behaviour, and how you can help your practitioners to be more self-reflective. We’ve also got an introduction to Leuven Scales from Sue Allingham, a key tool that could give you the insights you need to improve behaviour in your setting.
4. £6.5m for early communication skills
The DfE have announced £6.5m in funding to be allocated to disadvantaged areas to help under-fives develop their early speech and communication skills.
It will be used to help train staff and support workers in eight areas across the country, including Leicester City, Luton and Swindon. The funding will help to build on existing programmes that have already found success in the respective areas.
+ The National Literacy Trust have launched a new project aimed at helping parents boost their child’s language skills at home. The Small Talk project has launched a website which you can share with parents, featuring advice and ideas to help parents improve.
+ The DfE have also announced a new initiative (and £30,000) to get more men into the early years workforce. The project will be run by The Fatherhood Institute, who plan to produce practical resources to support men getting into the sector, and present relatable stories of how others got into the industry.
+ The National Children’s Bureau has taken over from Action for Children as the DfE’s official early years partner.
5. The month in child development
Here are the studies worth paying attention to from the last month:
- Young children exposed to large amounts of adult speech develop better cognitive skills, according to a study from the University of York. They showed a link between children exposed to higher quantities of adult speech and nonverbal abilities such as reasoning, numeracy, and shape awareness.
- Girls and boys on the autism spectrum display symptoms differently , which could explain missed disagnoses. Girls are more likely to use ‘cognitive process’ words like ‘think’ and ‘know’, compared to boys, even though they may have comparative symptom severity. The study may lead to sex-sensitive diagnostic tools and screening.
- Young children judge each other based on facial features, a trait previously seen in adults. Children as young as five make quick character judgements based on features such as the tilt of someone’s mouth or the distance between their eyes.
- A study has proved that preschoolers consume more food when presented with larger portions, backing up thinking already presented by many nutritionists. Keen to learn more? You can read about how to get portion size right in our free early years nutrition guide.
6. The minimum wage
With minimum wage rises coming into place last month, some national newspapers picked up the familiar story of rising costs and frozen funding for early years providers. But are there further rises on the horizon?
The Daily Mail this week reported that Philip Hammond is considering rising the National Minimum Wage as high as £9.61 per hour. While many providers would love to pay their staff higher wages, a further rise is a worry to providers already struggling to make the books balance with stagnated funding rates across the board.
+ Clearly something has to give. This month, research has shown that practitioners are being driven out of the sector into retail jobs due to low wages. Wages and respect for early years staff need to rise, but it cannot come without a complete rethink of how early years settings are funded.
+ The Early Years Alliance have officially launched their survey into paperwork and stress in the early years. The survey is part of a wider project aimed at reducing the pressures faced by early years staff.
7. Drop the base(line)
The DfE has been accused of hiding the workload that will be required to administer the baseline tests.
A Freedom of Information Request put out by Sue Cowley has revealed that 72% of teachers in the trial disagreed that the workload was ‘reasonable’ for the now-dropped self-regulation part of the assessment. The teachers’ thoughts for the other parts of the baseline tests have been blocked off from public viewing.
+A letter signed by a number of high profile academics has condemned the redacted documents, which are hiding both the conclusions of the report and many of the results.
+ Over 200 teachers, parents, and children took to the street to protest the changes and deliver a petition to the doors of Downing Street.
+ Labour have announced they would scrap the baseline tests under a Labour government, along with SATs for seven and 11-year-olds, describing them as ‘an unnecessary pressure’.
8. Providers must have music licenses
After many years of confusion, music licensing bodies PPL and PRS have confirmed that PVI nurseries must pay for a license to play recorded music, because they are not officially considered an ‘educational establishment’, and so are not exempt from the payment.
However, they have clarified that if the music is for educational purposes only, the license fee is around half the full cost.
As NDNA chief executive Purnima Tanuku points out, this technicality is both disrespectful to the important work that PVI settings do, and costly for an industry already running close to the margins. It’s time for all early years providers to be properly recognised for the important work they do.
+ A three-year study has shown that targeted music sessions can help to improve the development of children with complex needs.
9. The business bit
It’s a short one this month, with just a couple of stories worthy of making the headlines:
10. In other news
+ The Early Years Alliance are asking the sector to join together to fight for increased funding as part of the Fair Future Funding Week which will start on 10 June. The aim will be to ensure every MP in England hears from providers during the week.
+ A Kirklees nursery owner has warned of a ‘new type of scam’, which involved a fraudster paying out to the nursery from a hacked parent’s account and then asking for the money to be returned.
+ Looking for a fun new activity to inspire wonder in your children? How about this egg and laminating pouch idea from Alistair Bryce-Clegg?
+ Another inspiring post from Teacher Tom on what real learning actually looks like.
+ How about these nursery school kids pimping a few Zimmer frames for the residents of Gillaroo Nursing Home in County Antrim? Now that’s cute.