We know that for some of you the start of August means summer holidays are in full swing.
But not for everyone.
Many day nurseries, childminders and other providers stay open over these warm months, while parents scramble for care at ever-increasing prices.
All that means that the early years news train keeps rolling. And this month we start by saying goodbye to Mr Zahawi, and hello to the sector’s fifth childcare minister since 2010…
1. Another children’s minister bites the dust
Nadhim Zahawi’s short tenure as the UK’s children’s minister is over. The new face of the government’s early years policy is Kemi Badenoch.
She will take on the responsibility of the inspection and regulation of early years and childcare policy, as well as the delivery of 30-hours childcare, the pupil premium, children’s social care and special education needs.
But who is Kemi Badenoch? Well, she:
- Was born in Wimbledon, but grew up in Nigeria and the USA.
- Has talked of experiencing poverty growing up in Nigeria, including doing homework by candlelight because of a lack of electricity.
- Studied engineering, before taking a part-time law degree and working as a systems analyst at a bank for nine years.
- Is a mother with a child currently in nursery.
- Told Nursery World – “I look forward to listening to experts and people working on the front line to give children a firm foundation for the future.”
Badenoch has inherited an early years sector in crisis, and it will worry many that she is seen as a rising star in the conservative party since her election in 2017, suggesting that she may be another MP using the children’s post as a stepping stone to a more coveted government position.
+ Amongst the cabinet reshuffle following Boris Johnson’s election as leader, Gavin Williamson has taken over the role of Education Secretary from Damian Hinds.
+ Johnson has already promised to put schools and education at the top of his agenda, as MPs warn that schools need a multi-billion pound investement.
+ Former Children’s Minister Sir Al Aynsley-Green told daynurseries.co.uk that early years educators are sick of early years being used as a ‘political football’ as he calls for an independent national inquiry into early childhood.
2. EYFS reform advisory panel announced
Hidden deep inside a presentation given at Foundation Years’ Learn Explore Debate conference last week was a startling slide. The panel for the 2020 EYFS consultation has been decided. In fact, it was decided as far back as January this year.
The panel who advise on the new foundation stage as well as accompanying documents (including a revision of Development Matters) will be led by renowned Early Years Expert and Headteacher at Sheringham Nursery School Dr Julian Grenier. The full panel is:
- Clare Sealy, St. Matthias School
- Julian Grenier, Sheringham Nursery School
- Dame Alison Peacock, Chartered College of Teaching
- Emma Lennard, Civitas
- Gill Jones, Ofsted
- James Bowen, National Association of Head Teachers
- Sara-Jayne Martin, Roxbourne Primary School, Harrow
- Sir Kevan Collins, Education Endowment Foundation
- Beatrice Merrick, Early Education
- Iram Siraj, Oxford University
- Jan Dubiel, Early Years consultant
While there are a number of very well respected figures on the list, some in the sector have raised concern over the lack of PVI representation of the panel. Beatrice Merrick from Early Education is the closest the PVI sector has to a direct representative.
3. MPs make push for Intergenerational Care
A report from a group of MPs looking after social integration is encouraging nurseries and care homes to co-locate in order to encourage better relationships between generations.
The report calls for all nurseries, schools, and care homes to foster connections between the different generations and for more to consider moving together onto one site.
It comes hot on the heels of our own interview with early years expert Alistair Bryce-Clegg, who played a vital role in Channel 4’s Old People’s Home for Four-Year-Olds series, which explored the benefits of Intergenerational Care.
This article contains clips, written highlights, and the full interview, where Alistair talks about what he learnt from the programme, as well as his thoughts on everything from continuous provision to plastic toys.
4. £185m SEND funding shortfall in London alone
A collection of London councils have revealed that there is a funding shortfall for children with special educational needs and disabilities that totals £185m.
The report contains research carried out by Isos partnership who analysed financial data and completed fieldwork in the children’s services departments.
They chart a steep rise in demand while budgets flatline. In particular, the report calls for more funding for early intervention, which is found to be the most cost-effective approach and produce the best results for children and families.
+ Westminster City Council has opened a new flagship centre for disabled children in the area. It will be open seven days a week and features a sensory room, soft play area, and a dedicated office for parents and carers.
5. The month in child development
Here are the studies worth paying attention to from the last month:
- Preschool teachers may be asking too many simple questions according to this US-based study. While the results may not be the same for the UK, the study does shed some interesting light on the benefit of more challenging questioning.
- Toddlers process the speech of other young children at a incredibly high rate and more exposure to other children may have big benefit on word-learning skills. This study on children in play from the University of Waterloo showed that children who spent more time amongst their peers were better at the key skill of associating a new word to a new object.
- More variety and higher quantities of snacks encourages children to eat more, while the accepted wisdom of swapping out large dishware for smaller options may have little weight, according to this study from Australia. Also this month – updated portion size recommendations from the British Nutrition Foundation.
- Preschoolers with ADHD are less likely to be ready for school, according to this Stanford Medicine study.
6. A workforce in trouble
There have been more signs this month that the early years workforce is becoming further stretched, with the Early Years Alliance warning that early years staff are being vastly underpaid compared to other sectors.
Ofsted have also released new research showing that that teachers, in general, are feeling over-worked and undervalued by parents and leaders, causing a great deal of anxiety. They cite high workloads, poor work-life balance, a perceived lack of resources and a lack of support from leaders.
+ Time to have your say. Nursery World are currently surveying the sector on workforce finances in order to learn more about the financial problems facing early years staff.
+ Ceeda have published results about the percentage that wages make up of total sales for a setting. Unsurprisngly, in settings making a profit the percentage was far lower than those making a loss.
7. Ofsted increase registration fees
The DfE has been accused of ‘double standards’ over their plans to raise Ofsted fees.
The changes, currently out for consultation, would mean that both application and annual fees would increase from £220 to £269 for nurseries and £35 to £43 for childminders.
While running costs and inflation mean that the raises make some sense, the case for a raise is made difficult by the fact that the same logic does not seem to apply to 30-hour funding. You can view the full details of the consultation here.
+ More Ofsted stuff. We liked this piece about how one preschool are going to be approaching the new inspection framework. And leading academic Professor Elizabeth Wood has warned against plug-and-play curriculums that are becoming available in the wake of the new inspection framework.
+ Ofsted released a video this week on the controversial topic of cultural capital. The comments on Twitter feature some respected names who don’t exactly agree with their definition…
8. Disadvantage gap at a standstill
The disadvantage gap in the early years is no longer closing, according to a new report from the Education Policy Institute.
Their annual State of Education report explains that only in primary schools is the gap between more disadvantaged learners and their peers closing. In the 17 local authority areas where the gap now sits at six months, that gap has actually widened since 2012.
The executive chairman of the Education Policy Institute, Rt. Hon. David Laws, made a call to the new prime minister to again focus on social mobility policy. “We need a renewed policy drive to narrow the disadvantage gap,” he said, “and this needs to be based on evidence of what makes an impact, rather than on political ideology or guesswork.’
+ Education Committee Chair Robert Halfon MP has written to the education secretary to explain that he is ‘unconvinced’ that the opportunity areas are genuinely helping to improve social mobility through education.
8. The business bit
The latest and greatest in nursery expansions and acquisitions:
10. In other news
+ Vivian Gussin Paley, the author, teacher, and pioneer of the Helicopter Stories approach, has sadly died aged 90. If you want to hear more about all the wonderful work she did for the early years community, we recommend this touching post.
+ We’re passionate about helping nurseries to be more sustainable here at Famly, and so loved the idea of this new community SNAP – Sustainable Nurseries Against Plastic. Go and join the conversation.
+ PACEY has released a number of free online resources for childminders working with two-year-olds.
+ We liked this article in the TES about EYFS maths.
+ Ex-Busy Bees Trainer Fay Gibbin has announced a new online training academy.
+ The Nursery World Awards 2019 shortlist has been revealed. Did your setting make the list?