‘More Great Childcare’ – My Personal Thoughts – Part One   2 comments

As I am the person who started the original petition to urge the government not to change ratios in early years settings – I have to make it clear that my personal thoughts expressed here on my blog are not necessarily those of the official  supporters of the petition or those who have signed the petition.


I think that like my response to the 2011/2012 Ofsted Early Years report, I will break my response down into manageable chunks – so will be in parts. Then when I have written all the parts I will bring them all together into one blog post.

Lets start with the forward by Ms.Truss

Page 4

‘Every parent wants the best for their child, They expect childcare to be safe and of good quality’

Fully agree – the comments on the petition site from parents clearly evidence this – but they don’t like the idea of increased ratios.


‘The availability of affordable, safe and stimulating care is crucial in supporting families by enabling families to work’

Not all parents want to leave their child in childcare, some would prefer that one of them stayed at home to care for the children themselves, some would prefer that grandparents or other relatives cared for the child. However so many parents do not have a choice – they both have to work to earn a reasonable income, the grandparents are often still working themselves so unable to help out with childcare – and even if they have retired, parents want to cover the day to day costs like food, play equipment, outings so their parents are not  expected to cover these costs themselves – but as many parents rely on tax credits to help pay for childcare this is not an option if they use grandparents to care for their child. And to add to the difficulties of grandparents caring for their grandchildren – many are also now caring for their own parents – and there are only so many hours in a day.

Then there is the definition  of ‘safe’ and ‘stimulating’  – which I will look at later.

‘It is equally crucial to the development babies and young children as the foundation for the future success at school and in life’

Yes, we all agree  children need firm firm foundations BUT how these foundations are built makes all the difference to future success at school and in life. I will look at this in more detail when I unpick the governments actual ‘action plan’ .

‘We have been fortunate to see important improvements in the quality and professionalism of childcare in recent years. Children have benefited from the hard work, skill and commitment of those who work in early years, as shown by the improving results of assessments at the age of five’


YES – we (the early years sector) have worked hard, we do have skills and commitment – which is why so many are against the action plan in ‘More Great Childcare’.

‘But it is clear we face an enormous challenge’

Oh boy – we do, don’t  we – the enormous challenge is to get the government to listen to those who understand babies and young children – and to all of the research based evidence that supports what those caring for the children are saying.

‘as Professor Cathy Nutbrown told us in her report last summer, the quality of provision for children could be improved’


Yes, Nutbrown did say that – but she did not suggest removing floor space requirements , she did not suggest relaxing ratios, she did not suggest taking childminders out of the system of direct Ofsted inspection, she did not suggest ignoring the wealth research based evidence, she did not suggest ‘tarring everyone with the same brush’ and undoing all that hard work by early years professionals over the last few years. Maybe I read a different version of the Nutbrown report?


‘We need a system of regulation and inspection that has high expectations of quality  which gives providers the incentives and the flexibility they need to deliver the best for the children’

A Truss has recognised we have made progress – and EYFS  2012 builds on this giving some of that flexibility. Ofsted are currently inspecting all to the same framework . Although neither EYFS 2012 or Ofsted inspections are ‘quite right’ – there is no evidence yet on if EYFS 2012 and the changed focus of inspections from paperwork based evidence to practice based evidence – will improve outcomes for children or not.

Why is the government not waiting for the results of inspections under EYFS 12 before they started talking about making such drastic change?


‘Making the changes we need will not be easy, not instant.


And  as a lot of it seems to be ‘voluntary’ (not sure it is) how can these changes be evidenced as working or not – although eventually the difference in outcomes of the children whose early years settings make the changes and those that don’t – would be evidence in itself – BUT that is too high a price to pay – no-one should use children as ‘guinea pigs’ – EVERY CHILD MATTERS – not just those children who attend settings where the owners and staff understand how children learn and who refuse to comply with changes that are not in the best interests of the children.

It seems to me that money is driving both the government and those settings that choose to change the ratios in their settings. Both government and those setting owners making these decisions are putting  the children in their care at risk – and also  making  unrealistic demands on their staff.


Tackling them demands a long term plan and determined action’

Those words could be the strap line of the petition – tackling the government ideas – standing up and refusing to do anything that is not in the interests of the children will demand a long term plan and determined action.

‘We have a good tradition of early education in England, and some fine examples of excellent practice.’

We do – so stop messing with it – and use those examples of excellent practice to support others. Remember over 70% of early years settings are graded Outstanding or Good –  what more do you want those settings to achieve? Why not concentrate on those that are not achieving the higher grades – and look into the reasons why there are not – it is often reasons beyond the settings direct control that are the route cause.

‘But we should be prepared to encourage all providers to learn from the best, and learn effective practice in other countries’


Oh yes – I so agree – in recent reports the UK is better than the French, the Danish and so on  – so we should look to the practice of those ABOVE us in these research documents.

The effective practice from those countries above us in the table is not the elements of practice that the government has chosen to select to support their ideas – even when those countries concern are already changing their practice because it s proven to not work.


However one element of practice that is shared by nearly all our European colleagues is the children start school at six or seven, they start formal education especially reading and writing then – not at 4 or even 5 – and certainly not at 2.

Yes we can learn a lot from other countries and they from us – and they government could learn a lot from the practitioners in this country and the practice of other countries – if their focus was on the children and the long term benefits to the children and to society as a whole – rather than short term cost cutting.

The actions mentioned on page five of the document – will be included in the next part.


Posted February 1, 2013 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

2 responses to “‘More Great Childcare’ – My Personal Thoughts – Part One

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  1. I entirely agree with what you have put, especially the bit about children starting school later. We, in this country seem to have lost the idea that ‘childhood’ itself is a benifit.

  2. Good stuff Penny
    I particularly like –
    ‘We have a good tradition of early education in England, and some fine examples of excellent practice.’
    We do – so stop messing with it ”

    You are a voice of reason – Keep blogging!

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