I have to ask – Will the government listen to early years sector concerns?   1 comment

You see I have to ask – I was brought up to believe that in this country we have a government that was elected by us the public  and that everyone in government had a duty to act in the best interests of the people of this country.

Of course no government is going to be able to please all the people all the time – and some people will therefore not be happy with whatever decision this or any other government make.

However I was also under the impression that the government should refer to research and consult with those that have specialist and expert knowledge of whatever it it that the government are planning to change or implement.

Furthermore I was under the impression that if enough people voiced concerns or objections that at the very least the government should reconsider their plans – maybe make changes – maybe even abandon those plans.

And indeed in the past – both the current coalition government we currently have in power and governments of the past have acted in such a manner – and although I personally have not always agreed with the decisions made by the government – my belief and faith that in this country we have a democratic government has been upheld .

UNTIL NOW

It seems to me on the issue of changes to regulation of early years childcare settings as outlined in the document More Great Childcare – are been pushed through and with undue haste  DESPITE concerns about these proposals being expressed by huge numbers of the public.

At time of writing this blog there are two main e petitions up and running and a paper petition for parents and between them they have attracted around 60,000 signatures.

Although we can not be sure if, or how many people have signed all the petitions – the mere fact that some may have, shows how strongly they feel – strong enough to take the time to sign more than one petition.

However as we can’t be sure,  maybe the government should be be taking into account all 60,000 views. And maybe the government should take the time to read some of the comments that have been left on the petition sites – heart felt comments from early years practitioners, from parents, from grandparents, from ‘experts’ in the early years, from professionals outside the early years childcare sector such as Health Visitors and Mental Health professionals. Some of the comments have been put on the One Voice site to make the comments easier and quicker to read .

Some individuals – such as myself – are spending huge amounts of personal time and effort to express their concerns and to try to unite everyone together who has similar concerns. Not to further their own aims but because they are so concerned they feel they have to do ‘something’.

Apart from all the individuals who are expressing concerns – there are a huge number of research documents that all come to the same conclusion – the proposals in More Great Childcare are not in the best interests of childcare settings, parents or most importantly the children of this country.

In addition the early years organisations are all expressing concerns , all stating publicly  that they think the government is wrong to push ahead with their proposals.

Of course the government is going through the motions of consultation – various consultation documents have been released – but it seems to me that the government are trying not to make these consultations public knowledge – they are ‘hidden’ within various sites, they are not in the same format, there are too many for anyone to keep track of, the deadlines for completion are very short, the names given are misleading – for example staff deployment – hardly everyday language, if the word ‘ratio’ had been used more people would understand. It almost  seems as if the government are hoping that people don’t notice – or if they do that time pressures mean they can’t complete them all or even some of them.

As an example of why I am so cynical, lets take the issue of childminder agencies.

There is not a proper consultation on this issue – just the opportunity to add comment on the issue assuming you found the document in the first place (there are links on the One Voice site), the minister is meeting with selected groups but so far has not issued any statements to suggest that she is going to change any of the details of her proposals.

It is understood that the main early years membership organisation have (or will be) meeting with Ms.Truss but I have to wonder if that is to inform them of her plans rather than to listen to their views and concerns.

And all of this so called ‘consultation’ is with the knowledge that childminder agencies are to be piloted from September 2013 and that various groups / companies/ organisations have expressed an interest in running these pilot agencies.

One thing is very clear those interested in running the agencies will be wanting to make a profit from doing so, and it seems very likely that there will not be any government money to set up or run these agencies – therefore the cynic in me says – it is a done deal – the pilot agencies will just expand –  there will be no evaluation, no opportunity to make changes and especially no opportunity to scrap the idea and go back to the drawing board – because no one is going to invest their own money and time into a so call pilot – unless they are pretty sure that their business model / their agency model will continue into the future and not only be sustainable but will grow and increase profits.

So personally I do think the government is not listening – nor do they intend to change their plans, not only about the idea of childminder agencies but also about increased ratios, the role of Ofsted and the local authorities, the changes to qualifications – or anything else that they slip in through the back door – because I have noticed that although the main proposals are remaining – each article or statement or piece of information that you read there are slight changes to wording which maybe intentional or maybe even the minster is confused by so much information in such a short space of time?

Which brings me to my last point for this particular blog – why the hurry? why not take  the time to consult fully, to have time to debate, to reflect, to make changes?

After all the Early Years Foundation Stage 2012 has only been in place as the statutory document for early years settings for just over 5 months- it is supposed to have a life time of four years until end August 2016.

And maybe I am now being very cynical – but won’t we have had a general election by  then – and is it not possible that the current government and the current early years minster will no longer be in a position to make these proposed changes.

Surely it would be better to take time to consult and to come up with proposals for changes to the regulation of early years settings that on the whole, most people agree with, rather than risk alienating up to 60,000 or more voters.

Although I am not a political person and have been dragged into this arena due to my passion for my profession and my concerns about the implications to the children of this country – I would have thought that actually the government would have more chance of being re elected in the next general election, if they demonstrated through their actions that they do listen, they do take note of the concerns of those who know what they are talking about – and do have the best interests of the people of this country, including the children – at the heart of everything they do.

Posted February 16, 2013 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

One response to “I have to ask – Will the government listen to early years sector concerns?

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  1. Well said, again Penny! 🙂

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