Inter professional working – When, where and how is this taking place?   1 comment

Last night (6/2/15), I wrote a blog about a scenario based on a real story, where partnership working between a parent, a nursery setting and a childminder was not working. A really sad story because at the centre of it was a child – not the scenario child ‘Beth’ but the real child that my scenario was based on.

This morning (7/2/15) I have been doing some tasks as part of my degree studies, and as part of this I had to read a paper on ‘Multiagency working in the early years: confidence, competence and context’ by Jane Payler and Jan Georgeson.

This is the link if you are interested

Link to Payler and Georgeson paper

I have actually met Jane Payler once – at a conference where she was speaking (wearing her TACTYC chair hat), she came over to speak to me because she recognised me but could not place me. We had a lovely chat, and as a result, I remembered that at the moment in time, I had not got round to joining TACTYC (now rectified – and I am now a member)

To read more about TACTYC click on the link
TACTYC Website

So as I say a lovely person and I did agree with most of her presentation at that conference

To read about it for yourself click on the following link to the blog I wrote about it.

Blog about when I met Jane Payler at the Alliance conference

Anyway so my comments that are to follow about the paper written by Jane Payler and Jan Georgeson (who I have not met) are not personal comments about the people, just comment about inter professional working – which I note from the paper is abbreviated to ‘IP’

My first comment has to be from a personal perspective; this report was written in 2013, at a time when childminders should have been perceived as childcare professionals, as quality early years settings – and yet despite involving 52 childcare settings, not one of them was a childminder setting.

WHY?

Is it because historically childminders are regarded as ‘baby sitters’? I am not sure because within the paper is mentions the low status of pre schools and even day nurseries

The sector has a long history of relatively low levels of qualification, which influences both other professionals perceptions of the knowledge and skills of early years staff, and early years staff’s perception of themselves in relation to professionals from other agencies Osgood (2010) cited by Payler & Georgeson (2013: p.381)

and

Examples of such aspects include confidence and competence, especially given the historic view of early years staff as poorly qualified ‘mum’s army’, in filling where national policy has failed Payler & Georgeson (2013: p.382)

(Please excuse my efforts to get my head round referencing – it is a skill I need to learn, so practising here in my blog. Hopefully my dyslexia support tutor or my academic tutor will help me get to grips with it all)

A clue as to why childminders have not been included is mentioned further on, when they described who took part

The survey was completed by 52 early years practitioners who were either undergoing or had recently completed training for Early Years Professional Status’ Payler and Georgeson (2013 P.386)

So, I now understand a little bit more about why childminders were not involved – but not fully as I know some childminding colleagues do have EYP status.

However, in my opinion childminders should have been included, as all the issues that are highlighted in this report, impact on childminders as well – in fact even more, as childminders have (in general) less professional status than all the other types of early years settings.

Putting the fact that childminders are not included aside, I want to look at the main points raised in the paper as I found it very interesting that it is not just childminders who struggle with inter professional working.

Please note because I find it so hard and time consuming to reference things in the required way for university, for the rest of this blog I am just going to reference ‘my way’ (if at all) and hope that in future it will become easier for me.

My general overview having read the whole paper is that the higher your perceived professional status, the more chance you have of other professionals working with you – and more specifically of visiting your setting to have meetings, to see the child or their parent.

It appears that Children’s Centre’s have the highest status and are seen as having the most positive inter professional engagement – and positive gains (P. 381)

It appears that early years practitioners struggle to articulate their skills, knowledge and practice among high status colleagues (P.381)

And further that some are sacrificing their personal identity in order pursue joint rather than personal goals – because competing and conflicting motives can mean that working in partnership does not succeed. (And this could be seen in my blog about partnership working, where both parent and childminder gave way to the perceived ‘expert’, and did it the nursery way – rather than working together in agreement)

From reading the article, a ‘pecking order’ is described with Children’s Centres being at the top and pre schools / nurseries at the bottom (and if childminders had been included, I think they would have been below the pre schools and nurseries.

This causes concern, that children get different access to extended services (so inter professional working) depending on the type of childcare setting they attend. This is not fair or right, because all children should have equal access to services.

As an example in the report it mentions specialists visiting Children’s Centre’s to deliver services directly, but that pre schools and some day nurseries only got things indirectly such as reports, or ideas to implement, information via parents (P. 387)

I can personal confirm this, because through my volunteer role with the Pre school Learning Alliance, I know pre schools struggle to get support from other professionals – not because they don’t want to, but because of budget cuts and having to prioritise their workload. However this demonstrates a professional lack of understanding about both children’s needs and parents / settings abilities to visit Children’s Centres to access support – or the impact of other children in the family or setting.

As a childminder it is almost impossible to get a specialist professional to visit my setting to provide support myself or the children. It does happen occasionally – but very occasionally and usually as support for myself rather than direct support for the child.

So why are some children able to access more support, just based on the professional status of the setting that they attend. Maybe it is because by going to Children’s Centre the specialist professionals can see (and therefore support) more children?

In my opinion this is not really valid or justifiable. For me to take a child to a session at the Children’s Centre I would have to close my setting to other children / ask the parent to take time of work to take their child (even if parent not required to attend – unless they wanted to), the child would also be in an unfamiliar environment and so may be withdrawn, and unwilling to engage – where as if a child attends a nursery in a Children Centre – the setting does not have to close, and the the child can be seen in familiar surroundings, with or with out the parent being present.

Maybe it is because it is thought that the practitioners in pre schools and day nurseries lack the knowledge to engage professionally (ie due to their low status)?

Again in my opinion, this is not justified. Often those working in Children’s Centres have the same level of qualification and experience as the leaders and managers of other early years settings – and some times a lot less experience.

In my personal case, this is true – when I worked for the Local Authority I had a high professional status, as a childminder – I have a much lower professional status – at least among those who do not know my background. Furthermore, I have colleagues who have degrees, who are unable to demonstrate a high level of professional knowledge, because they are good at academic writing, but not at the practice side of things. Whereas I am rubbish at academic writing but I am informed by others that I am knowledgeable about early years in general and children’s development in particular.

As the saying goes – ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’

In terms of inter professional working – in my opinion this is just what is happening – settings are judged by some unwritten but widely known ‘pecking order’; practitioners are judged by the setting they work in and its status; high professional regard is given to those with paper qualifications (as in the paper being discussed, where having or working towards EYP status was a requirement) but even this is limited if you have paper qualifications but work in a setting with less professional status.

And of course – all early years settings and the practitioners who work in them – in the governments view, have less professional status than schools and teachers, which is why we are seeing a drive towards earlier, and earlier school starting age, support services being available in schools, schools leading early years settings and childminder agencies being set up within school enterprises, and local pre schools being ‘brought out’ and took in house by schools, or forced off school premises by out pricing them with huge rent increases.

The status of early years professionals is being attacked from all sides – and in my opinion, we will could end up with schools – just schools, as even Children’s Centres will just become part and parcel of the school services, and a ‘one size fits all’ approach to early years.

I hope I am wrong, but as part of the collective ‘childminders’ – who by default has the lowest professional status, and who is being constantly undermined by Government – I fear the ‘writing is on the wall’

HOWEVER – THERE IS MORE, THAT I HAVE TO SAY ON INTER PROFESSIONAL WORKING WHICH IS MORE POSITIVE

I am referring to my own professional status within the Early Years field, as I find myself engaging with professionals from all early years sectors and the wider early years field.

So how has this happened – after all I am a childminder, I don’t have a degree (although doing my best to gain one), I have not written any books or appeared on TV, so why am I able to engage with all these experts / CE’s of organisations / writers and academics?

It has taken me a while to work out – I think I now understand (but I may be wrong)
A) I found a ‘soap box’ on which to stand and to shout very loudly about why I think the Government are failing our children, with their policies, procedures and expectations.
B) Those who engage with me, value the fact that I have my feet firmly on the ground as a ‘hands on’ practitioner
C) My honesty, ethos and principles are valued, and are relied on
D) I communicate openly and freely with everyone – expert / CE / practitioner – and I say it as it is – in plain English
E) I have been able to demonstrate my passion and my commitment – without expecting anything in return

So if I can do this and make my voice not only heard but respected as a professional, think what we – the early years practitioners could do, if we joined together and made our combined voice heard.

Maybe if we did this inter professional working would become embedded – for all, and we would all become valued professionals.

Posted February 7, 2015 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

One response to “Inter professional working – When, where and how is this taking place?

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  1. Pingback: Some very good questions- Why do I blog? What is the purpose of my blog? Do I need to make it more academic? | Penny's Place Childminding

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