Ofsted’s Early Years Report – The answer to improving outcomes for children – is in the report …..   1 comment

………… but it is not getting children in to school earlier.

 

This short blog is in addition to my usual blog about the report from a childminders point of view (which I have not completed yet)

 

SO – PENNY (I hear my regulars readers saying) WHAT IS THE ANSWER THAT IS IN THE REPORT?

 

Simple really – and I know I am not the only one to think this.

 

IT IS SUPPORT FOR PARENTS                        IT IS LEAVING THOSE PARENTS AND EARLY YEARS SETTINGS WHO ARE DOING A GOOD JOB ALONE

First that ‘evidence’ so kindly provided by Ofsted in their report

My comments in normal text, text from the report in bold, points I want to emphasise in blue

Let’s start with the forward on page 5

Ofsted’s publication in June 2013, Unseen Children: Access and Achievement 20 years on, emphasised the importance of the early years for breaking the cycle of disadvantage. It also powerfully demonstrated the importance of parenting.

It continues

Parenting style, parental involvement in education and the quality of the home learning environment are major factors that explain the differences between children from low income backgrounds and their wealthier peers

and

Not enough is being done to support and encourage parents …………………..

 

Three cheers for Ofsted for recognising this – and I fully agree with the statements above

So Government how about looking at yourselves to lay blame for the fact that some children do not do as well as other children?

Parents need enough money to live on – a living wage. Parents are often very worried about how they will pay the bills, how they will feed their children, how they will buy clothes and shoes – and worry leads to stress and a state of mind where you simply are not able to function fully as a parent.

This state of mind does not just effect parents on low income – I wonder how many of the working population are currently on sick leave due to stress related issues?

But of course if you are a parent – you don’t get sick leave – you just have to do the best you can.

Parents need suitable housing that they can afford and equipment to enable their children to be cared for  – if you live in a house that is hard to heat, or have essential equipment that is not working – even the simplest tasks are difficult and more time consuming and cost more. Take having a working washing machine – ensuring your children have clean clothes is fairly easy – but if you don’t have a working washing machine it can be a nightmare (and costly) if you have to go by bus to a laundrette; if your cooker doer not work, making home made meals is difficult and so on

All of these things would help parents to do the most important  job in the world – that of parenting – much easier.

It is time the Government stopped blaming all parents and stopped putting in measures that impact on all parents and children, when in fact for the majority, there are NO ISSUES that need addressing

So instead of wasting money on getting two year olds into school – spend money on supporting those parents, that need support – and I say support because it is not just a case of increasing benefits, those that need support, need much more.

 

While talking about the issue of getting 2 year olds in to school – WHY not talk about getting even more children to access early years settings?

The Government acknowledge that most children ALREADY access an early years setting, it says on page 10;

At some stage between birth and the age of four, most children will also attend an early years setting that has been inspected by Ofsted. This is because around 94% of children will, at some point before starting primary school, benefit from government-funded early education and childcare located in early years settings that have been inspected by Ofsted.

So that means 6% of children don’t access any early years provision at an early years setting.

It should be noted that some of that 6% will be getting very good early years experiences from their parents – and if parents don’t want to send their child to a early years setting – and are doing a ‘good job’ that right MUST be respected.

More could also be done to support parents who don’t want to send their child to an early years settings as well those parents who choose not to work to be their child’s primary carer. So maybe a free membership to a Government approved website with early education based resources – such as playdough recipes, ideas for ‘educational activities in the home; maybe a toy library that also offers play sessions; maybe support for hiring a venue for parents to run parent and toddler groups / or much better access to Children’s Centre’s (so able to run own sessions from the Children’s Centre) and so on.

Silly thing is all this used to happen – there used to be a wonderful set of booklets on early reading, maths and so on for parents, many areas used to have Toy Libraries – some even had mobile ones, in some areas there used to be a mobile resources van, where practitioners and parents could buy glue, paper, paint and so on.

The report continues saying;

Quality in this sector has been rising, and 78% of providers on the Early Years Register are now good or outstanding, which is the highest proportion since the register was established.

So 22% are not graded good or outstanding – it is those settings that need support to improve their practice BUT before that can happen we need to be sure that the grades given to this 22% of settings are actually sound judgements because at the moment Ofsted are aware that the inspection companies are not always making sound judgements.

 

As a thought – would it not be a good idea to say to settings that are graded under a good – the opportunity to have an inspection from a HMI, as a quality assurance method? Those settings that are ‘gutted’ at the grade or unsatisfied with their actual inspection, would welcome this opportunity. And those that know deep down that actually they do need to improve, can either make those improvements with support or decide to close their setting.

It is time the Government stopped tarring all early years settings with the same brush – and targeted those that need to improve.

As to making it easier for school to take younger children, and to offer 8 – 6 care, and setting up childminder agencies – the Government should leave well alone, we already have a wide range of early years settings that are not only experienced in providing high quality care and education, they already have premises and equipment to enable them to continue doing, so – why replace one thing with another – when it is working.

 

Government –  parents are on the whole, providing excellent parenting for their children, and making the right decisions for them and their child about their child’s early years education experiences – both at home and by sending them to early years settings.

 

Stop accusing parents as a whole of not being ‘good enough’ by implementing policies that impact on all

 

Government – early years settings are on the whole providing excellent care and education and working in partnership with parents.

 

Stop accusing early years settings as a whole by implementing policies that impact on all

 

INSTEAD – look to yourselves for the reason why things are not improving

Ofsted inspections are flawed

LA support for settings is being reduced / removed

Charities that support parents are managing on a shoe string and the good will of the public and their volunteers

Parents are finding that they are worse off – and it is getting worse not better

Parents who want to stay at home with their child – are not supported

Children’s Centre’s are having their budgets reduced / services are being reduced or disappearing

Maintained nursery school are being closed

Pre schools are struggling to make ends meet because of a short fall in the Early years Education funding

Childminders have such low moral because of the impact on their sector from the introduction of childminder agencies

 

In fact Government – if you left us to do what we do well – parents and early years settings – you would see outcomes improving because most do actually care about the children and are passionate about ‘getting it right’.

If you spent as much time and effort in making sure you ‘got it right’ – as you spend in interfering in parents lives and early years settings practice – you may actually see outcomes improve for society as a whole

 

 

One response to “Ofsted’s Early Years Report – The answer to improving outcomes for children – is in the report …..

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  1. I totally agree. We’re a family of 5 and have decided for my wife to stay at home and look after the children. We do not feel supported by government policies at all, in fact the recent changes to child benefit go directly against families with a single bread winner.

    Well functioning families are key to fixing a variety of problems in today’s society and I wish the government and Ofsted would realise that.

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