Category : Viewpoint


Peer Pressure in the House of Lords

I stumbled across the House of Lords TV feed totally by accident (via Twitter – the power of having social media!). It is a fascinating process to watch and listen to – and very, very encouraging.

The first debate I watched was on the 16th June, which was the second reading of the Childcare Bill (see link below). Lord Nash (the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education) opened up the debate with the Government’s party line, with nothing new or surprising. For example, how a ‘balance’ has to be struck when setting the hourly rate – between fair for providers and ‘value for money for the taxpayer’, how the increase in number of practitioners with NVQ3 will raise quality in settings and how the sector is ‘vibrant’ and growing.

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A View from the Other Side of the World

I am incredibly delighted and excited to have as my guest blogger this week Rebecca McIntosh, from Brisbane, Australia. We started comparing notes about childcare in England and Australia some time ago – and found some fascinating differences as well as some similarities.

Here Rebecca gives us a history of Australian childcare. It is a surprising story I was totally unaware of and really shows how much childcare philosophy varies around the globe. It is well worth a read and a BIG thank you to Rebecca for sharing this history with us.

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Men in Childcare, Lancashire Network

I was out with my husband, having coffee, and when we got to the till, there was a little sign. It said “which do you prefer? Girl or boy?” and an arrow from each pointing to two tip jars. For some reason, this really niggled me. Tips according to your gender? Really?

When we sat down with our drinks, I mentioned this to my husband, who said it was a marketing approach. Apparently people will give more often if posed a forced question, presumably because you have to engage with the idea of giving a tip if you think about the question.

However, this simply doesn’t work for me. I will tip according to the level of service I receive, from male or female. If the waiting staff tip a large glass of white wine all over me and into my handbag (and I wasn’t even drinking that night!) but then doesn’t offer even a free coffee as compensation, then there will be no tip.

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Flexible and responsive planning

It’s been a funny week.

First my youngest son fractured his finger (rugby!) on his writing hand, just before his mock GCSEs start. So we’ve had various A&E, fracture clinic and physiotherapy appointments.

Then my husband’s cough started to sound quite worrying and after a doctor’s assessment we ended up at an emergency clinic at short notice.

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Public Health England’s 7 Priorities for the Next 5 Years

If you have read my previous post on Sir Michael Marmot, you will know that I’m a big fan of Sir Michael’s research, especially Fair Society, Healthy Lives. I’m also always interested in any plans and proposals  that affect children in this country.

So, I was especially excited to see that Public Health England (PHE) has just produced a report that details their 7 priorities for the next 5 years. These are:

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Good, Quality Documentation

Simona McKenzie has posed another interesting question for me: “What should good documentation contain as a summary of children’s learning, that is focussed and shows exactly what the learning journey a child has taken?”

My first thought was that there are certain statutory, legal requirements that all childcare professionals need to fulfil. Namely:

The Department for Education’s Statutory Framework (DfE, 2014: 13) calls for on-going (or formative) assessments based on day-to-day observations of the children, without ‘excessive paperwork’ that is ‘limited to that which is absolutely necessary’. This is incredibly vague and open to interpretation, both by practitioners and Ofsted.

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Social Networking for Childminders

The impact of electronic media simply can’t be ignored these days.”

I first wrote this almost four years ago – and since then the influence of social media has exploded exponentially.

Who would’ve predicted, four years ago, that our charitable donations would be based on a shared photo of a friend on Facebook having ice cold water poured over their head? Or that a single Twitter photo would be retweeted 1.3 MILLION times in less than an hour?

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Being an OWL

One of the great joys of holiday time is catching up on the shows that you just don’t seem to have time to listen to or watch during the working week.

Thus it was that I managed to finally listen to the series on BBC Radio 4 called The Educators. In it, Sarah Montague interviews ‘the people whose ideas are challenging the future of education’, and where better to start than with Sir Ken Robinson. I’ve written before about Sir Ken’s video made at the TED lectures and how his humour and observations help make the point.

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EYPS New Standards and Reviews

The new EYPS Standards have been unveiled.

The 39 have been reduced to 8, with subclauses. They can be found here

On the whole, they reflect the previous Standards, but without the confusing overlap and repetition. There is a logical progression (almost Bronfenbrenner-like) through the Standards, culminating in the all important leadership aspect. Most satisfyingly they are NOT just a rehash of the QTS standards!

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EYPs – Providing the very best for our children and their families

It was just over 18 months ago that I posted an article entitled A Teacher by Any Other Name

The thrust of the original article was that when working with young children, they don’t care about your job title, they will learn from you in deed and word, so if the practitioner (or educator, teacher, nursery nurse or EYP) is loving and caring, then this greatly increases the chances for the children to be loving and caring. Sadly, the reverse is also true – see Bandura’s experiments for confirmation of this.

But the point of the article was that – it really doesn’t matter what you are called.

So it seems incredibly ironic that there is now a debate raging about the names that EYPs will have from September 2013.

The Coalition Government is proposing to change Early Years Professional Status (EYPS) to Early Years Teachers (EYTs). Now, you don’t have to know me for very long before you find out that I am passionate about EYP Status I was one of the first in the country to achieve the Status and have subsequently mentored and assessed on the course.

Even with some of its flaws, I still believe it is important to have this career step after degree level, for those who wish to progress.

Most significantly the EYP was a ‘change agent’, a term much discussed and variously defined.

This had significance for me because it demonstrated that the EYP wasn’t only doing a good job themselves, but the EYP was also leading, supporting, encouraging and demonstrating to others how to raise the quality of their practice too. Changing practice for the better.

However, the new, proposed Early Years Teachers’ (EYT) Standards do not have that aim. Change agent does not appear anywhere. The proposed Standards are a direct trickle down from the Teachers Standards agreed with Qualified Teachers in September 2012. There are one or two nods to the fact they are for a younger age group (‘pupils’ become ‘children’ or ‘babies and children’, Sustained Shared Thinking gets a mention) but, in essence, they are the Teachers’ Standards – hand-me-downs, slashed and inadequately re-stitched to cover the bare patches.

And this is where it starts to get messy for me.

One argument is that by being equivalent Standards, under the same authority (Teaching Agency) that there is an equivalence between EYTs and Qualified Teachers (QTS). However, an EYT is NOT seen as being ‘qualified’ in the school system. So you could work as an EYT in the Foundation Stage, but not in Key Stage 1, for example.

Professor Nutbrown clearly stated in the findings from Foundations for Quality that the EYPs were frustrated at the lack of equivalence between EYPS and QTS and the lack of parity in pay and conditions (page 57). This has not been addressed by the Government.

The claim of equivalence simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. And I’m pleased about it.

Professor Denise Hevey very eloquently puts the case for “Different But Equal” with many setiments that I would totally agree with.

It’s time to move beyond the name. Professor Nutbrown called for true QTS equivalency, and the Government have rejected this. I doubt they will take the consultation on the new Standards any more seriously.

EYPs/EYTs already have a long, hard road ahead of them. So let’s concentrate on doing what we do the best and let’s do it together, bound by a common goal.

Providing the very best for our children and their families.


Since then, there have been a number of updates to the Standards, requirements and Government policy.  The Early Years Professional Status has been replaced with a new Status – Early Years Teacher Status – which still has 8 Standards, but you now have to hold GCSE maths, English and science to do the course.

In addition, you have to pass the professional skills tests. You can find out more information from the Government website here

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