Who will look after the children in the future?   9 comments

Readers may be thinking this is rather an odd question – but is it?

Recently I have been having a lot of conversations with colleagues about  what is happening within early years care and education; and indeed in all aspects of education at all levels. Further concerns have been raised about family lives and children’s well-being. In general a lot of concerns are being raised about the future, and  especially what childhood will be like for future generations.

You may be wondering what are the things that I have been discussing with colleagues – well here is a list of some, but not all, of the things that we have been discussing – in no particular order;

  • Underfunding for the 30 hours
  • Lack of capacity for the 30 hours
  • Settings closing
  • Quality of higher qualifications
  • Need for Maths and English GCSE’s
  • Quality of level 3 qualifications
  • Pay in the early years  sector especially the Private, Voluntary and Independant settings.
  • Lack of play opportunities for children of all ages but especially those in the Early Years
  • Lack of understanding about what play is
  • Too Much Too Soon, in terms of formal learning, and rushing through childhood
  • Experienced practitioners leaving the early years sector
  • Demise of Local Authority support
  • Cost of ongoing CPD
  • Experienced lecturers / tutors leaving the profession
  • Focus on  assessment, tests (especially SATS) and exams
  • Unrealistic expectations that are not developmental appropriate
  • Ofsted inspection criteria
  • Undermining of early years settings, especially registered childminders
  • Drive for school led ‘everything’
  • Drive for childminder agencies
  • Government ministers without any qualifications in education,  putting their ‘stamp’ on things without considering the impact
  •  Constant changes of policy
  • Data collection being more important than needs of individual children
  • Overstretched education professionals at all levels
  • Idea that all children should have over 97% attendance at school – regardless of their personal situations at home or with health
  • Experienced and newly qualified teachers leaving the profession
  • Postcode lottery for certain aspects such as choice of schools/ if can take holiday in term time/ if can start in reception at Compulsory school age (CSA)
  • Push for parents to work more hours
  • Loss of creative subjects – and suggestion that not ‘worthwhile’ subjects
  • Demand from stretched parents for longer childcare hours for their children
  • Lack of choice for working parents
  • Lack of support for parents who want to stay at home
  • Undermining of parents
  • Increase in food banks and other volunteer led support
  • Examination ‘markers’ leaving
  • Suicide rate for young people
  • Mental health issues in children – even those in the Early Years
  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Narrow focus of curriculum’s at all levels
  • Assumption that all children develop at the same rate and in the same way
  • Mental health Issues in parents
  • Increased poverty
  • Push for academies
  • Children leaving school without the skills needed for life or employment

So just a few things!!!

And as mentioned before, this is not a comprehensive list, I could add more – a lot more.

It is not just myself and my colleagues discussing all these issues – there are so many posts on social media, so many newspaper articles, so many ‘Open Letters’ signed by experts in the field, so many petitions, so many passionate letters from those who can not support current Government policy any more, so many pleas from charities at crisis point.

The thing that links all these people together is DESPAIR.

Despair that no one in Government is fully listening

Despair that no one in Government understands child development

Despair that no one in Government is brave enough to say ‘ENOUGH’ and stop implementing ideas / policy, that those ‘on the ground floor ‘say won’t work’ – and then to work in partnership to consider more effective policies.

Everyone understands the need for Government to save money, but not everyone agrees with the constant cuts and changes to policy. Despair is wide spread at short term policy that will lead to long term costs for society as the depth of damage done to individuals and society becomes apparent.

There is complete and utter despair about the ‘well-being’ of the children of this country, who are the ‘guinea pigs’ in all of this. They only have one childhood and once opportunities are ‘lost’ we might never fully repair the damage done – and in some cases they will never regain their ‘well-being’.

There are so many things impacting on child well- being, not just education policy. The Government really need to talk between departments much more, so that they can put the needs of the children first.

Personally, I think that what is currently impacting on the children of this country, verges on being a safeguarding issue when considered in the fullest terms. Will at some point in the future today’s children want / be able to hold the government / the country accountable for any damage to their well being and opportunities to reach their individual full potential?

Maybe some readers agree with me and are nodding, and already composing in their heads, their comments to leave at the end of this blog; or maybe thinking of writing their own blogs / letters to the media.

I say – do it – don’t just think about it. And please do leave a comment on this blog – the more comments there are, the better.

However,  some readers may think I am exaggerating and I am making a fuss about nothing.

In my opinion, I am not making a fuss about nothing, in fact I don’t think I am making enough fuss – after all writing a blog is fairly low key and will only ever have a certain level of impact. May be I should do something that will have more impact such as trying to speak in person to ministers?

Actually I always have been willing to speak to Ministers and Lords (and have done so in the past), and I still am happy to speak in person to Ministers and other policy makers. I do manage to speak to some policy makers, but I would like to meet with more people – especially Government Ministers.

Mr. Gyimah I have yet to meet with you (or any of your colleagues that make up the current Government). Now that I have retired as a registered childminder and do not have any personal business reasons to try to influence Government policy – may be you should meet with me. I am now a volunteer, a campaigner and an advocate for children – all children. I read the things you say and write, I believe that you do want to make a difference to the lives of the children of this country, but in my opinion the route you are taking is making things worse. Add this to the impact of policies put in place by Nicky Morgan and we have a bit of mess.

I implore the government to listen to those who are concerned and the reasons why; if not to me in person, then  to the collective voice of parents, educators at all levels, health professionals, researchers, Police, representative organisations and employers.

In order to explain my personal concerns about what is happening within education and indeed to children’s lives, I am going to outline my thoughts in this blog. As always, I am not going to reference other people’s work, these are just my thoughts, in my own words – but I do know from all the conversations that I have had, that many, many people agree with my thoughts.

I am going to start with university level of education, and work my way back down to early years, with deviations to other related things as I express my thoughts. However it could also be read in reverse order as everything is linked and everything impacts on everything else.

HOWEVER, BEFORE I START, I NEED TO MAKE IT VERY CLEAR THAT MY THOUGHTS ARE NOT CRITICISM OF INDIVIDUALS (WHO ARE ALL DOING THEIR BEST). I AM CRITICISING THE SYSTEM THAT IS BEING CREATED,  THAT IN MY OPINION WILL RESULT IN THE DESTRUCTION OF OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM, AND EVENTUALLY OUR SOCIETY.

What I consider to be the ‘issues’ with universities                                                                       I have spoken to a number of senior university lectures, who have either resigned or taken early retirement, or are thinking of doing so. The reasons they give are all very similar; they are being told to teach to the exam and worse to give students as many chances as needed to ‘pass’ especially in the first couple of years. They say that students these days sometimes do not even have the skills needed to undertake a degree but have been pushed ‘to try’. Some don’t know what they want to do career wise and so are just taking a degree to ‘do something’. There is pressure on university staff to get students through – even those they think are not going to be able fulfil the criteria of jobs they apply for once they have the degree. I am told that more emphasis is put on being able to reference other people’s work and to do research, than to be able to use observations of practice, or reflection of own practice, or even to have hands on experience of aspects of their chosen career.  Within all education degrees, child development is not covered as fully as it should be, and some teaching degrees hardly even mention child development. University lecturers tell me they despair because they feel they should be equipping their students with the skills and knowledge they will need in their future careers – but at the moment they are actually setting their students up to fail; and also leading to a deterioration of high quality education for the future generations that these students go on to work with.

Of course this can be said to be ‘hear say’ or just the opinion of a few individuals, but the number of university lecturers expressing concern through signing petitions, or open letters suggests that it is not the minority – and that numbers are growing. Certainly the number of people talking directly to me, and to me through their colleagues that engage with me is increasing.

My perspective comes from my own university experience – I found that many of my peers were reluctant to engage in anything other than the ‘must do’; they were not interested in discussions around the ‘wider picture. Doing the things required for the higher grades was all that matter to some; doing the bare minimum was all that matter to others. Many younger students needed constant directing and did not have the skills to think for themselves or work independently. They certainly could not ‘think outside the box’- which I consider to be a vital skill in today’s quickly changing world. I can make an educated guess about why younger students do not always have the skills needed – as in my opinion, it is all to do with their own educational experience from early years onwards. I fear things are going to become worse as the National Curriculum and Early Years focus becomes more narrow and based less on play and creative subjects. We will end up with students who have learnt by rote and who are not creative in any sense of the word, going out into the world of employment.

I fear in the future that children will not have the dedicated educators  that we have today who understand child development and can think outside the box to make lessons / activities and experiences, interesting and adapt them to individuals needs. We will instead have educators from Early Years through to University whose own educational experience means they have a narrow view of what education is – and a degree that limits them to teaching to the test with no experience of thinking outside the box and making lessons/ activities or experiences interesting. This will of course not be the educators of the future fault, as they will be victims of the system we as a society have created.

This is what my university colleagues fear – and they are leaving / planning to leave in their droves because they do not want to be part of the system any more. They have had enough, are fed up of expressing concerns that no one listens to, and morally they feel they should not engage in the destruction of the university education system or downgrading of the value of  degrees.

Of course there are those students who will ‘buck the trend’, who will have the skills needed, who will work very hard to gain the most they can from their degree BUT there is still an issue! Those who mark the exams / dissertations are being pushed to mark more and more papers (often on top of their ‘day job’)- and are now at the stage where they are saying ENOUGH. They say they do not have time to give each paper full and proper consideration, and so the marks they give are ‘ballpark’ based on a general ‘feeling’ rather than on in depth consideration based on the merits of the paper. What a sad state of affairs.

Degree students are taking on huge personal debt which some will never repay  because they are unable to get a degree level job or because they decide to concentrate on other things such as having a family, or doing volunteer work, or out of financial necessity, take a low paid job. In all cases the debt gets bigger because of the interest added. This debt can eventually becomes part of the countries debt and ends up costing the country a lot more in the long run than  providing university education for free to those who actually have the ability to achieve a degree that leads to a career where they will earn enough to repay the cost of their degree course through the taxes they will pay.

In summary then, we have pressure for more people to go to university and there is an assumption that a degree is the best way of demonstrating skills and knowledge. Lecturers are required to teach to the test and to ensure that most people graduate – and to signpost to job opportunities because that gives the university a higher success rate.

Those marking the exams / dissertations are not happy; those providing the lectures / courses are not happy. Students arrive at university without the skills needed to undertake the course – and often leave without having gained any adaptable skills for the future, but usually have a huge debit in return for the ‘bit of paper’ with limited value.

My own experience of gaining a degree has taught me that, nice though it is to say I have a degree – I did not learn very much (apart from the fact that I am dyslexic), and I question if it was good use of my personal money.

So going back to the question in the heading of this blog ‘ Who will look after the children in the future?’

If this is the true state of affairs within university education – what confidence can we have that those graduating in the future will have the skills and knowledge to care for and educate the children through developmentally appropriate activities and experiences?

If things are ‘wrong’ within universities how will things get better in the future – unless people take a stand? However if all the ‘good’ morally driven lecturers (often with many years of experience) leave – who will take their place?

What I consider are the ‘issues’ within Sixth Forms and colleges?                                                    I have colleagues who teach in Sixth Forms and Colleges – and I have a grandchild (and his friends) who are at this stage of their education, and so I have an insight into how things are. I hear that many do not want to be doing their course, either because they did not realistically explore what the course involved, or because they were told they had to stay in education and the courses chosen appeared to be an easy option. I hear that some families can not, or do not want to support their children through college or sixth form with housing or food and other living costs, and so the students have what amounts to full time work as well as doing their studies / course work. I hear that college staff are now providing food for students through food banks set up and run by staff. I also hear that the standard of the courses has deteriorated both in content and in standard of work because a) Students do not have the skills needed (especially those who have opted to go to college)  and b) because of the amount of time needed to be spent on behaviour issues and supporting the welfare of the students.

I know quite a few young people who have moved sixth form / college several times because they do not settle – but actually they do not settle in any of them because they are not right for them – sometimes because they have been looked after children(and all the complex issues within that); sometimes because they have missed a lot of school and do not have the skills to self motivate themselves to do well; and sometimes because they simply are not suited to learning formally in this way

Personally I think that insisting that young people stay in education and do a course that really don’t want to do or do not have the skills for is a mistake; more effort should be made to ensure that young people have the basic skills before leaving school. For some the need to be independent and to have a job is more important and actually will give them the skills they need. Many of my generation left school at 15 or 16, and went into work; many also set up homes and stood on their own two feet. I am against young people living on benefits as it gives the wrong message but I am also against young people spending two years of their lives wasting time on a course that is not suitable for them.

I think it is scandalous that Government can put pressure on teachers and parents for children under five to be able to read and write, when despite 11- 12  years in school, some young people leave without being able to read, write, manage their finances and so on. Double standards I think. In my opinion ‘life skills’ are more important than GCSE’s,  and everyone with even an ounce of common sense will know that life skills include being able to read, write and do Maths – for everyday purposes – and as such have more meaning to young people.

However the worse thing is that the requirement for childcare students to have GCSE Maths and English appears to be ‘back firing’ – as it is being spread by students that you ONLY need Maths and English GCSE’s to work in childcare – so it is an easy option!!!! So rather than ensure that childcare students have a minimum level of education – this requirement appears doomed to do the opposite and give the impression that it does not matter if you do not have any other GCSE’s, or do not have the essential personal skills or indeed if you like children or not. One young person was totally shocked when I explained it was not an easy option, and also not a well paid option

In summary Sixth Forms and Colleges have some  students who do not want to be there, some students who do not have the skills needed to make the most of the opportunities. Add this to lowering of requirements to take courses and a narrow focus on the ‘pass criteria’, and a general impression that childcare is still a ‘easy option’.

Going back to the question in the heading of this blog ‘Who will look after the children in the future?’ It is easy to see how in the future those who end up working directly with the children will not support higher quality early years care and education – or indeed through Teaching Assistants support in schools, through no fault of their own but due to policies that do not work. Some who may have had the skills needed, may be pushed into taking a degree after sixth form / college instead of being able to work as a level 3 member of staff; others will leave sixth form / college because of the financial pressure to contribute to family finances, and may look for jobs working with children; and some just won’t be suitable to work with children but will have a level 3 qualification enabling them to do so, but that actually is not worth the paper it is written on.

So sad not just for the future generations of children, but for the young people of today who are being let down from all directions as they prepare for adult lives.

What I consider are the ‘issues’ in Primary and Secondary Education

Lets start with Secondary Education. The first issue is the very narrow focus on subjects that are deemed important – and at the cost of the creative subjects. What is worse is that this is assumed to be right for all pupils. I do not understand why value is not given to budding dancers, or builders, or cricketers, or tractor drivers. For most young people it would be better to incorporate the core skills into their interests. For example if the young person was interested in cricket how much more relevant would it be to find out about the history of cricket, or about the countries where the Ashes matches are held, or to learn how to maintain equipment and grounds? In my opinion it would not matter if that young person lost interest in cricket at a later date because by then they would have certain life skills including how to read / write / do Maths – and once they had those skills they could apply them to other subjects. I am not saying that young people should not learn core subjects but I am questioning the way they do it and the very narrow focus – and very narrow view of what ‘success’ looks like.

I know many secondary teachers feel they are being forced to tick Ofsted boxes, and to teach to the exam – and that their professional skills are not being used to support the young people in their classes. My question is nearly all these teachers undertook the so called ‘high quality’ teaching degrees in this country – so why is this professional knowledge no longer considered ‘high quality’.

However, in my opinion one of the biggest issues, is the fact that by the time students reach Secondary school they have already switched off, experienced ‘failure’  and developed behaviour issues because of this. The experiences and pressure in Primary school means that for many students their well-being is not good and no matter how good teachers are in Secondary school for many it is too late to turn things around before they leave school. If you add to that other life experiences such as poor health, being a looked after child, domestic violence, poverty, poor housing – and these days stressed parents with very little time – it is easy to see why  young people today need a different education system that is based on their needs  – not on the need for improved data collection results year on year.

Moving to Primary education – in my opinion the whole focus is wrong – government is trying to rush children through their childhood and have developmentally  inappropriate expectations for what children can achieve. They think all children can fit into nice neat boxes and manage education achievements that not so many years ago where considered appropriate for much older children. This drive for achieving more sooner is being pushed downwards and is now even being applied to children below CSA. It appears that data collection to show accountability and improved outcomes are the only things that matter. Teachers well being, children’s well being and even parents well being, all appear to be things that do not matter. Play is talked about but many simply do not understand what play is and this is leading to more adult led activities where people think if children get to touch items to use following instructions, that they are playing.

Teachers, campaigners and parents are all saying that Primary education is not meeting the needs of children, and many are asking for the Early Years Foundation Stage to be extended to 7 – or for a kindergarten stage to be implemented instead. Many teachers are resigning and many are writing letters and blogs to explain why they are resigning. More and more parents are choosing to home educate their children. It has to be asked why?

In response to all of this, the government are introducing more tests; require higher percentages of attendance; make it difficult for parents to take their children on holiday in term time; penalise children by removing ‘treats’ like end of term trips to those children who through no fault of their own have missed days due to illness or bereavement and so on.

In general there is no consideration for each child’s unique circumstances – not I hasten to add  by the teachers who genuinely do try to support each child – but by the system and demands from central government via Ofsted and the data collection systems. As with students in Secondary education – this drive for more and more accountability has a negative impact -on the very children who need support most.

In summary we have experienced and newly qualified teachers leaving – and some are taking any job that they can to pay their bills, rather than just changing the school that they teach in, because they know the grass is not greener on the other side. We have parents who have the option home educating their children, we have a Primary and Secondary curriculum that is not fit for purpose and a government who despite the huge number adding their voice to those of campaigners – are simply not listening because they are so sure they are right and so sure they have the right to decide what is best for the children in this country.

Going back to heading of this blog ‘Who will look after the children  in the future?’ My guess is it will those who are doing a job (teaching) as best they can without the skills they need – particularly around child development, and without the passion that most teachers have traditionally had,  that drives them to put in hours of unpaid work at home to enable them to support the children. This will not be the fault of teachers of the future, it will be because of education system created.

More parents will chose to home educate – but actually many parents do not have that option because they need to work – and often very long hours. Parents in general would like to have more time to spend with their children both those that would rather home educate and those who would like to play an active part in their child’s school. However, I think in the future that parents will feel less confident to support their children because of the undermining of parents by government who are pushing for parents to be ‘super parents’ not ‘average – good enough parents’.  Sooner or later parents will feel they are never going to be ‘good enough’ and give up. We will also have parents who are under such extremes of stress through the impact of other government policies that they will in increasing numbers, develop mental health issues.

All of the above will lead to more children being placed for long hours in childcare – but will there be many childcare options left outside of school based provision led by those who through no fault of their own have not had the training they need to develop the skills and knowledge needed to look after other people’s very young children?

What I consider to be the ‘issues’ in Early Years Care and Education.

I have already mentioned some of these issues, in other sections of this blog, so I won’t repeat them all because as I have said, everything in linked and everything impacts on everything else.

So the issues of poor quality degrees and level 3 qualifications will have a direct impact, but there is more, much more. The government are constantly under funding the so called ‘free entitlement’ – which is not free but subsidised by early years settings. Many settings are now reaching the point where they are not sustainable and are closing or having to make the hard decision not to offer the funded hours. There is also pressure to formalise early years education and to offer less play – something which those who have undertaken high quality training / understand child development, know is not in the best interests of the children – and some are now refusing to implement practice that is not appropriate.

The Government also seems set on undermining early years settings by pushing for more school led provision, this is particularly true in relation to registered childminding (even though the government say they value childminders) due to the constant trying, and retrying to get childminding agencies off the ground.

Somewhere along the line the government has lost sight of the value of home based childcare and voluntary run pre schools/ traditional playgroups  (and parental involvement and the benefit to parents this creates) and  have in recent years been trying to push for all settings to be more formal and to tick all the same boxes. They are trying to push all children to develop in the same way, at the same time – and a lot quicker than in the past.

So for the last time – going back to the heading of this blog ‘Who will look after the children in the future?’ In my opinion the children will be looked after by those that do not have the skills and knowledge or be led by their passion for ‘getting it  right for children’ and we will end up with people who can tick government boxes with no understanding of the damage they are doing.

Childminders and traditional pre schools will almost disappear either through sustainability issues, or ability to jump through all the hoops. PVI groups setting will increasingly become absorbed into school settings, and traditional  Nursery Schools will eventually decline in numbers to an extent they they also more or less disappear.

Parents will be working such long hours, and so undermined that they will hand their child over at birth to be raised by the state – who will turn out little robots who can not think for themselves, are not creative but who can answer ‘set questions’ or carry out set tasks in so called work, to generate a tax revenue. (However they will also be thousands who are so damaged by the policies that they will require support from the state for all their life).

Am I being over dramatic? Am I just of a certain generation that does not want to adapt to changes? Do I have no understanding of children and what they are capable of?

Maybe – but I don’t think so, as so many think on the same / similar lines as myself.

So the question has to be ……..

……. If so many are concerned about WHO WILL LOOK AFTER THE CHILDREN IN THE FUTURE ………..

…….. WE NEED TO DO EVERYTHING WE CAN TO STOP OUR GOVERNMENT FROM CONTINUING TO IMPLEMENT POLICIES THAT WILL IMPACT ON CHILDREN NOW AND IN THE FUTURE ……. WE NEED TO FIND A WAY TO GET THEM TO LISTEN.

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 responses to “Who will look after the children in the future?

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  1. My sentiments exactly, Penny. I too am now retired from our LA and was previously a childminder. My heart sinks when I see all the work my Childminding Team and I did from 2000 eroded to nothing. Numbers of childminders have plummeted since the team were “deleted” in a previous restructure and the support diluted through subsequent ones. All so sad but you are exactly right in what you are saying and hope you keep saying it!

    • Thank you Mary – and as you know our paths have crossed in the past and we have had a similar journey. Like you I am saddened to see the demise of the LA teams and the support that used to be available – not just to childminders but to all EY settings.

      I think I can reassure you that my soapbox is here to stay for a while longer, the only problem I have is getting people to read/ listen to what I have to say

  2. Hi penny. I totally agree with all that you’re saying and I even feel selfish to have had my own children & worry about their future. I have worked in the childcare sector all of my working life which is now 20 years service & feel very sad with the deterioration in the education system. I have always disagreed with the British education system expecting too much too soon from our little ones but it has got definitely worse with testing & sats & phonics screening in place. Play is taken from children far too soon & with society & housing forever changing children don’t even have the same play & exploration opportunities that I had as a child. I’m fortunate to have a big garden for my 3 boys but I wouldn’t let mine play out the front like I used to. It’s a very sad situation & because we’re just people I doubt we’ll get heard.

    • I fear you are right Ella about not being heard – and even if we are heard I doubt that people like me and those who agree with will be able to make any significant difference – but I feel strong that we must keep trying.

      The words you use of feeling ‘very sad’ are being expressed by many others to me in person.

      The world is changing and some things are not for the best, but we try to do the best that we can to adapt – for example ensuring children can play outside – and as you say maybe not with the same freedom that we had as children – but still able to explore and discovery – and lead their own play

  3. I can vouch for the HE/FE perspective Penny both as a Lecturer and a learner. Less and less Universities are offering sector endorsed qualifications and EYT and it’s partly due to lack of teaching staff. As a former Lecturer I can confirm that there are lots of disadvantages to delivering early years degrees and the like which I have touched upon previously in blogs of my own. The whole sector is in tatters from the top to the bottom and I can only see it getting worse I’m afraid.

    • As a previous FE lecturer myself Andi, I know from my own experiences that things have not been ‘right’ for years and things are getting worse.

      What can those of us who have these concerns do to make people aware of the issues?

  4. Penny… I do agree with your discussion of all these concerns at each stage. I too believe that many youngsters are put into higher and further education when it really isn’t the best environment for them to reach their own higher potential. It’s often the place and the attitude of those teaching you that shapes your progress, not just the idea of gaining higher levels of qualifications than previously thought attainable.
    I’m also dismayed by the narrowing of the curriculums in Key Stages 1, 2 and 3. .. The newer generations of GCSE candidates will have far less confidence in creative and even genuine scientific/investigative areas and this is going to gave a negative impact on their future success as adults in employment, including being effective in teaching if that is the role they choose… and the problem of those with little or no empathy with children being pushed into child care at all levels is very obvious.
    I also have big concerns that much of the shortfall in childcare and support for working parents has come from Grandparents… of recent years often more active and healthy than in the past, and better placed to offer this until now, when we are being expected to work longer ourselves. If we have to stay in work, pensionless until 68, then who is going to offer the home life to the children of the future?
    It makes my heart quail to think that all children will be expected to stay in state run childcare with people for whom it is just a job. Isn’t this why we ended up having to rescue children from Romania in the last century? Is our country now going to try that model?
    8 hope lots of people give this blog the time and attention it deserves, and UNDERSTAND the genuine concerns and questions you have raised.

    • Thank you for you considered response – you are much better with words than I am, and I hope people take the time to read your comment.

      Thank you for bringing up the subject of grandparents as this is a very valid point (and one I forgot to include). As a grandparent myself who provides free childcare 2 days a week, I can vouch for how important this is for my daughter to be able to work. I can also say as someone who has retired from her ‘day job’ but not entitled to a pension for another 10 years (and who in any case is a foster carer of three) that sometimes it is difficult to juggle everything to be able to support my daughter.

      As you say my concerns and questions are genuine – however I fear that not many will read this blog. I wish I could find a way of drawing people’s attention to it.

  5. Great blog, Penny. It is very concerning the direction of travel that we are going in…I think about the impact that this will have on the little ones..

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