Safeguarding Children in the widest sense of the word   2 comments

The newspapers, TV and internet are full of news AGAIN about failure to safeguard children.
On this occasion it is about sexual abuse, and everyone is shocked at the scale of the cases already uncovered and the warnings of yet more cases all over the country likely to come to light as further investigations take place.

Social services, Police, Schools, Government, communities are all saying ‘this should not happen’ and ‘how can it go on without us knowing?
Although many are saying ‘we could do better’ no one is really holding their hands up and saying ‘We are to blame’

I would suggest that as a country we are all to blame – every single adult. And we must do better and safeguard EVERY child from in terms of child protection.

IT JUST IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Of course we all know about Daniel, Victoria and others – and we can but hope that changes made to the system will prevent any more of these cases where children have been completely failed by the systems and adults of this county, and for this to happen we all need to be prepared to take action, to speak up.

However, I would suggest there are other types of failure to safeguard our children going on right under our noses.

At this point readers will either be worried that more cases of neglect and physical and sexual abuse are about to hit the headlines – or they will be thinking that I have ‘lost the plot’, because how could I – an everyday person possibly know about such things – and know it is going on all over the country?

So maybe at this stage I should make it clear that I don’t have a crystal ball – that I am not the only one with this knowledge – that many have this information – and yet only a few are trying to do something to prevent what is already a major concern and impacting on some children; from becoming a disaster, and a complete failure to protect the children of this country.

I am very lucky that my own campaigning efforts have connected me to a lot of other professionals – including those that lead organisations and associations, and those who carry out research and those who are experts within the early years field.

I am also fortunate to have opportunities to attend national training, university lectures – and to be included in a lot of email communications between those mentioned above.

Regular readers may now be thinking ‘ah this blog has got something to do with Penny’s concerns re the Government and the early years sector’

Spot on it is.

I think my personal outrage at recent Government policy is well known and that people recognise that I am genuinely concerned about the well being of this countries children.

However, it was not until I attended a recent lecture at Worcester University that I made the connection between my concerns and the word ‘safeguarding’ – in the widest sense of the word.

After some reflection, it is now clear to me that the Government of this country (and not just those in power, but also those in ‘opposition’ who do not effectively stop the Government from implementing ill thought out policies) are failing to safeguard the well being, health, and appropriate development of the children BUT potentially by not speaking up and saying we will not support Government policy that is not in the best interests of the children, and that will potentially limit their life opportunities – the adults of this country – that is parents, early years practitioners,, grandparents, teachers – all of us – are responsible for contributing to failing to safeguard the children of this county.

Worrying, shocking and as time goes on and Government impose more and more inappropriate policies for our children – and especially for children in the early years, the more damage, the more failure to safeguard the development of our children takes place.

Now I am sure most adults in this country have not even considered this before, and will be horrified to think that they may be even remotely responsible for any failure to safeguard a child or children.

However, in my opinion to do nothing about things we know are not right, that we know are not based on research and years of experience from within the sector, is as bad as supporting those things.
To implement policies and procedures, which we know will not support children to develop into happy, healthy well rounded individuals who will flourish in life, then we are contributing to failing to safeguard the well being and development of the children.

Of course some people do take action, they do speak out, sign petitions, write letters, take part in debates and sharing of information.
People like me, people like Neil Leitch CE of the Pre school Learning Alliance and Dr. Richard House of the Too Much Too Soon Campaign, and many others. Individuals and organisations are beginning to join together to voice their concerns such as all those involved in the Save Childhood Movement.

But is it enough – will the concerns of those who do speak out be enough to bring about changes, to ensure the Government listens and acts on those concern?

I tend to think not – and certainly my personal experience to date, is that the Governments record of listening and consulting is tokenistic and just for purposes of ‘ticking’ the ‘we have consulted box’

I have been reflecting on my own personal actions – could I do more?

Is starting petitions, writing letters and articles, having a well worn soapbox enough?

Does my actual hands on practice – safeguard the well being and development of the children in my care?

I think I could do more

I do challenge – for example when the Ofsted inspector suggested I put word labels on my toy boxes. I challenged this and asked her to explain how it would improve outcomes for the children. She could not (or would not) and changed the subject- this said to me that she could not justify her recommendation – and she then choose another recommendation. I have not added labels to my toy boxes – and nor will I because I can justify why I don’t need to.

I also do not reference every single thing to do with the children’s learning and development to Development Matters – or even Early Learning Outcomes because I don’t think there is a need – putting things on a bit of paper does not improve the outcomes for children. In fact I think doing so, could limit opportunities in some circumstances because the adults will follow the planning that follows the recording of development and miss opportunity to follow the child’s interests and lead, which can and do change frequently. Sometimes, todays interest is no longer of interest the following day, or extending an interest is not what the child wants to do – they want / need to consolidate what they have discovered.

Of course this does not mean that I never look at Development Matters or other child development guidance documents or books – of course I do but I do so just to check my own knowledge and thinking.

So I already don’t do some things just because Ofsted or my LA suggest it is good practice to do so – I stick to my ethos and principles based on my knowledge and understanding about children.

Do I think I know all I need to know about children – of course not – I think there is always more to learn, more to reflect on. If I thought I knew it all, I would not be trying to gain my degree, I would not subscribe to a large number of early years publications, I would not network and share information (which of course is a two way process).

However, without being big headed, I think I know a bit more than some of those who are in charge of making decisions about the policies for early years care and education within the Government.

So could I personally do more?

YES

Re read the bit in bold – I stick to my ethos and principles based on my knowledge and understanding about children.
If this is the case (and it is) the logical step is that I apply ‘Principled non-compliance’ in terms of implementing practice based on the policies of Government that I think are wrong

So this is my personal plan

2 year olds in school – parents’ choice – but I won’t be offering a wrap around service for two year olds who attend a school based setting, and I will be challenging why it is considered in the child’s best interest. And it is not just about the school environment – because at the end of the day it would be possible to create an enabling environment within any building – but it is also about school based hours and term dates and continuity of care for the children during school holidays and outside school hours. It is about 2 year olds having to potentially cope with different routines, different key persons – all of which are not in the best interests of two year olds.

Baseline testing – I won’t be providing information, or preparing children for this testing, and I will be challenging why it is needed and seeking clarification about how it will improve outcomes for children, how they will ensure that all children are given equal opportunity to take part – rather than some being a whole year younger than their oldest peers. I will want to know how the data collected will be used- and how it can improve assessment, and therefore outcomes, over and above the observations that teachers do and are trained to do.

4 year olds going to school before they are ready – again parents’ choice
BUT I have decided if any parent (from Sept 15) wants their 4 year old to stay at my setting, until they are CSA they can do so – for free (voluntary contributions will be accepted, but I won’t charge). Some 4 years olds are ready, some are not, some schools are better at being ready for 4 years in their schools than others, some schools understand better than others the need for a play based curriculum, and the importance of waiting for children to be developmentally ready for formal academic based activities. I believe parents should have choice, and so in enabling a child to stay in my setting, I hope to facilitate that choice.

Offering early years education places– I currently offer these places for 2, 3 and 4 year olds, but I am concerned that the agreement that I am expected to sign, is becoming too prescriptive – and so although I signed the latest one; I have decided that if there is any requirement to agree to implement something that I do not agree with on a principled non-compliance basis, then I will not sign the agreement. This will of course mean that the funding will be withdrawn. However, it is my intention that any child who wants an EYE place, will be provided with that number of hours FOC.

Is there anything else that I could plan to do? – I don’t know yet, but I do know if there is a national call for action to make a stand against Government policy that I feel will lead to failure to safeguard children’s development (including the assumption that Early years settings can continue to provide services that are not financially sustainable), I will join others in a day of action or a march or signing a petition – or all of them.

It is time that I personally, and we collectively stopped enabling the Government to continue to fail to safeguard children’s well being and development, through our support of policies by implementing them.

I think ENOUGH IS ENOUGH – it is time we took action.

My question therefore is – Will you continue to support policies that fail to safeguard children’s well being and development – and if not  what will you do to ensure the Government understand your position on this.

I would be very interested in your views – Am I on my own? Am I part of a small minority? Or am I part of
growing number of people who can no longer standby and let the Government continue to implement policies that are not in the best interests of children?

Posted November 28, 2014 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

2 responses to “Safeguarding Children in the widest sense of the word

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  1. Regarding 4 year olds going to school before they are ready and offering to keep them at your setting until CSA is amazingly generous Penny. I’m sure that’s a huge consideration for many parents. I had to read your offer twice, I thought I might be seeing things! Wow, just wow!

    • I will be very difficult for me financially Michelle – but I have got to the point where I can not stand by and in doing nothing play a part in failing to safeguard children.

      I feel that it is my job as a registered childminder to help the children in my care to have all the foundations of learning in place ( so the Characteristics of Effective Learning) before the start school. Some children are ready to go to school before CSA – but many are not. Therefore I think I should offer parents a choice.

      However, I do not think it is my place to tell parents what they should do – I will provide information, explain the choices – and then support them in whatever they feel is right for their child.

      I understand that many other settings will not be able to make this offer – but maybe they will be able to support parents in other ways.

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