Tuesday, 8 June 2010

What lies ahead

Response to articles in Nursery World :
Analysis: Providers wait for mists to clear on early years landscape http://bit.ly/aDCQ2WMary Evans, 02 June 2010, 00:00am
What lies ahead for the day nursery market - fee rises, wage freezes, sustainability problems under the free entitlement? In the light of a definitive report, Mary Evans asks providers for their views.
Pledge to extend free entitlement for nursery education to 15 hours is upheld http://bit.ly/aWrrBkMelanie Defries, 07 June 2010, 5:22pm

The extension to the free entitlement to 15 hours per week is to go ahead from September as planned, education Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed in a letter to his predecessor and shadow education secretary Ed Balls.

My thoughts in response to these articles are that early years has always faced an uncertain future and at the same time it seems certain. This is because the early years workforce is so committed to providing the best care and education for our youngest children. They are motivated to work inspite of the long hours and low pay because they know that their work has a substantial impact on young children lives. They affect the quality of their lives, their motivation and potential for learning and the contribution they will make as future UK/European citizens.
Our workforce is outstanding in their enthusiasm and determination, they study to keep ahead of new developments and to develop themselves personally and professionally. As I train around the country I hear the stress that so many practitiners are under and their frustrations and at the same time the fact that they provide the best quality experiences they can when budgets for resources are low, staff absences and turnover is high and the proportion of inexperienced staff working in the setting is difficult to manage.
I am happy to read that the Graduate Leaders Fund (GLF) has not been cut and although I am sad to read that the Department for Children, Schools and Families no longer exists it seems (I hope!) that much of their work will be continued through the Department of Education.

In these uncertain times we need leaders who can inspire and persist through challenges and who work collaboratively with their teams and we need practitioners who understand how children develop and learn and to ensure the most effective active learning experiences and affective relationships are provided. Funding training to support our children's workforce is essential. I have seen how the EYP pathways and the Graduate Leader Funds have made a real difference; standards have been raised and some stresses reduced due to practitioners developing new skills and through gaining new knowledge and understanding.

However, the sector even with the funding that exists is still so undervalued. The article above quotes that the UK 'funding is £30 billion on secondary education, £23.5 billion on higher education and just £4.5 billion on early years.' The UK still doesn’t seem to recognise just how important early childhood education is. Many of our European partners for example: Sweden, France, Denmark, Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Italy and Noway invest much more in their services for early years than we do. The sector still relies heavily on parents paying the biggest potion of the budget and relies on the “for profit sector “ to provide the highest proportion of services.

Early years education is so important. It is a service to the public. It can lay the foundation for future learning, foster a love of learning in children and can engage families and impact community values far more than any other phase of education has the potential to do.

The sector needs investment now maybe more than ever, because during these uncertain times the early early years sector can have a major influence on future society and as I write this I hear myself saying that at least I have witnessed that progress has been made. I opened my first nursery during 1985 took up a post as managing director of a chain throughout the 1990’s and during this time there has been progress, even through economic crisis. Funding for places and training for practitoners has increased. Legislation has put play at the centre of provision and has also made some key committments to provide quality.

To conclude, my thoughts are after this reflection that although times seem uncertain right now I feel sure that the mist will clear and as long as we in the early years sector HAVE A STRONG VOICE progress will continue.

I wonder what your thoughts are.

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