Welcome, dear readers, to a new decade.
That’s right, 2020 is finally here, and while December is typically a bit of a slow news month due to a little thing called Christmas getting in the way, there is still plenty of interesting early years news stories to cover from the last 30 days.
This month, we start with a little-known election win for a certain political party, and what it all means for early years.
1. What does the Conservative win mean for the early years?
We begin the new year with a Conservative government holding their largest majority since 1987. But what does their big win mean for the early years?
The most likely outcome seems like more of the same, with the Conservatives not committing to any further spending on their flagship 30 hours policy. With a sharp rise to the National Living Wage promised in April, Ceeda predict that the funding deficit will rise to £824 million.
As Nursery World reports, it’s mostly a story of business as usual, including:
- Gavin Williamson to remain as Education Secretary and Nick Gibb to continue taking charge of the early years portfolio until at least Feburary
- More detailed plans on the manifesto promise of more wraparound care for parents to be released at some point in the first half of the year
- As already mentioned, National Living Wage to rise to £10.50 per hour for those 21+
The next date for your diary is March 11, when the next budget will take place. Here’s hoping it comes with a change of fortune for the sector.
+ What would you like to see change in 2020? Nursery world asked seven leading experts what’s on their wishlist for the early years in 2020.
+ The government have set aside £11.8 million to extend their National School Breakfast Programme for another year, while the Troubled Families grant receives enough funding for another year as well, with an extra £165 million earmarked.
2. Pilot successful in changing gender views
A pilot run by gender equality charity Lifting Limits has been successful in changing young children’s views on what’s perceived as a ‘boy’s toy’ or a ‘girl’s toy’.
Through their year-long, whole-school approach, which involved workshops, staff training, resources for teachers and assigning a Gender Champion, led to children being three times as likely to say that football was a ‘game for everyone’. There was similar results for other typically gendered toys like dolls, LEGO, and toy kitchens.
To learn more about their approach and how you can integrate their approach in your early years setting, head over to their website.
+ A survey by daynurseries.co.uk found that 34% of nursery staff want to ban plastic toys from their nurseries, while the number of staff wanting to ban glitter has risen from 22% to 38% in a year. If you’re interested in hearing more about the benefits of a more natural environment, check out our interview with the team from The Curiosity Approach.
3. Summer-born children are still falling behind
Analysis of the Early Years Fundations Stage Profile (EYFSP) from 2019 has reflected the continuing trend of summer-born children falling behind their older peers.
81% of autumn-born children manage to achieve a good level of development in the EYFSP, compared to just 62% of summer-born pupils and 73% for those born in spring.
It’s a problem that we’ve known about for a long time now, but the answer is not so clear, although it backs up the long-held theory by many that parents need more flexibility in choosing when their children begin Reception.
4. Deprived areas most likely to miss out on funding
The latest government statistics on childcare places has revealed that children living in the most deprived areas of the country are taking up fewer places than those in the least deprived areas.
Just 57% of children in the UK’s most deprived areas took up a childcare place in 2019, compared to 74% from the less deprived. As Early Years Alliance Chief Neil Leitch says, “These are the children who stand to gain the most from quality childcare provision and we must do more to ensure they are able to access it because, at the moment, we are clearly not doing enough.”
+ Norfolk City Council has stepped in to save six of the charity-run nurseries that had been operated by the Great Yarmouth Community Trust, which went into liquidation last month.
+ More than 300 childcare providers donated to take out an advert in The Times to raise awareness of the funding crisis in the run up to the general election. The team behind the advert have launched a new website We Care About Children to continue the campaigning.
5. The month in child development
December is typically a bit of a quiet month for big study releases, but we still have a couple of interesting pieces for you to mull over:
- A specific type of animated story books could be better for learning, according to this study out of Carnegie Mellon. The study found that digital storybooks that animate upon a child’s vocalisation offer certain beneficial learning opportunities, especially for those with attention difficulties.
- A mother’s obesity during pregnancy is linked to a lag in their sons’ development according to this study out of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. No similar link was found in young girls.
6. How age-segregated is Britain?
We heard lots about intergenerational care last year, and it’s already in the news in 2020. Think tank United for All Ages have released a report entitled Together in the 2020s, with twenty ideas for a creating a more age-connected Britain by 2030.
In it, they claim Britain is currently one of the most age-segregated countries in the world, and their recommendations to reverse this by 2030 include:
- Opening up schools longer as community spaces
- Adding an understanding of the power of intergenerational connection to the curriculum
- Developing 1000 centres for all ages as places to mix and share experiences
+ There was some inspirational stories of successful intergenerational care shared at daynurseries.co.uk this month, with these stories from South Wales and Gloucestershire, and this from a nursery school in Kent.
7. How will you answer the EYFS consultation
With the open consultation into the proposed changes to the EYFS open until the end of the month, two experts have shared their thoughts.
Consultant and author Anne O’Connor, has explained why she thinks making ‘positive attachments’ with adults and ‘forming friendships with peers’ should not be part of the Early Learning Goals.
The team at Early Education have shared their draft response, which includes information from the research review Getting it Right in the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Keep a lookout over the next few weeks as we’re going to be running a series of interviews and opinion pieces from experts in the run-up to the deadline.
8. This month’s interesting reads.
Each month, we want to try and use this spot in our briefing to share the best stories, ideas, and opinion pieces that didn’t quite fit into any of the other big news topics.
For more inspiring and intriguing articles, head over to our new Facebook community Always Learning, where almost 1,000 early years professionals share articles, videos, news and guides that interest them. This month:
- Katrina McEvoy from the wonderful Siren Films gives us the low-down on Self-Regulation.
- David Cahn explains why we need to rethink the word ‘no’ in the early years on TES.
- Helen Pinnington talks about a unique approach to writing in the early years – dance (over at TES).
9. The business bit
The latest and greatest in nursery expansions and acquisitions:
10. In other news
+ Congratulations to every educator and early years leader who was named on the New Years Honour’s list, and in particular to Susan Gahan, who uses Famly at the wonderful Zebedee Nursery School and has been awarded an MBE.
+ Props to the BBC with a great feature on this Scottish Forest School and why it’s such a fantastic learning environment for the children there.
+ We learnt a little more about why starting school at seven may be the secret behind why Estonia’s education programme consistently outperforms every other education system in Europe.