Posts Tagged ‘dfe’

I have just finished writing an article for the trade press about the issue of first aid, and this followed a lot of discussion amongst our managers about recruitment challenges. It is no news that recruitment in the early years sector is very difficult at the moment, following the GCSE debacle that the Government managed to engineer, and the pipeline of new recruits is slow. The expansion of some settings caused by the 30 hours funding has increased pressure on supply, and many nurseries are finding it hard to recruit and retain staff.

Many of us are turning to agencies to help us to fill the gap, but it does feel that some of the agencies are not pulling in the same direction. We are committed to achieving Millie’s Mark at all our nurseries, which demonstrates excellence in paediatric first aid. This kite mark requires us to have all of our staff who deal with children qualified in paediatric first aid, and in order for us to be compliant, we have to ensure that this includes agency staff as well.

Before Christmas our Ops Manager contacted all the local agencies whom we used, assuming that they would be aware of this and would be starting to ask all their agency staff to work towards this standard. Unfortunately we were largely met with a negative response and there was no suggestion from any of them that they would be requiring this in the future. Agency staff need a minimum of a 6 hour paediatric first aid certificate to meet the requirements of Millie’s Mark, and this is something that the whole sector is being encouraged to adopt. It is time for the expectations around first aid to be raised, and we would like to see agencies leading the way on this, so that nurseries are able to provide the safest possible environment for all children. 

Do we really want our 2 year olds in school?

April 15th, 2014 by Sarah Steel



Following on from last week’s announcement by Sir Micheal Wilshaw that school was the best place for 2 year olds, there has been some really interesting comment in the press.

Here is just one article that suggests that the Head of Office and our Childcare Minister are not universally supported by the experts!






I have just returned from a few days away with my family, to a plethora of articles and comment on last week’s OFSTED report on Early Years provision. I had a taste of what was to come as I read the Sunday Times last week, which warned that parents were to hear how nurseries and childminders were failing their children. Then I caught a comment on line mid-week, with an exasperated nursery manager objecting to Sir Michael Wilshaw’s comment that nurseries were full of ‘the least able caring for the most vulnerable’.

Suffice it to say, I have been simmering gently ever since then.  My humour has hardly improved having read the report in more detail; how can OFSTED make a complete **** up of the nursery inspection regime over the last year, resulting in a significant number of inspection downgrades, most of which are currently being appealed by outraged operators? Not surprisingly, this has lead to an increase in the number of nurseries graded ‘inadequate’ – many of which have dropped from ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’ due to highly questionable judgments by ill-informed inspectors. Sir Michael Wilshaw then further compounded the inevitable statistics by deciding that ‘satisfactory’ was actually no longer satisfactory, so everyone who previous sat on the right side of the ‘quality line’ has now become not good enough, with the grading being changed to ‘requires improvement’.  Next year, will he decide that ‘good’ is no longer ‘good’, thereby moving the statistics yet again?

However, one thing has come out of this week’s report. The Government, via our esteemed minister Ms Truss, has pinned its colours firmly to the mast; the best place for 2 year olds is in school. Our smallest children, whom many would see as little more than babies, some of whom are only just walking unaided and all of whom are in nappies, should be in class rooms. The Academies agenda has just been extended yet further, to encompass all bar our under-2s. Wilshaw refers to the large and varied group of experts as ‘the chattering classes’ for daring to suggest that we already push our children in to school to early.

I feel a mixture of real sadness and utter frustration that Wilshaw and Truss between them can dismiss such a large expert body with such a lack of respect.  I for one would like to call for a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the pair of them. I am proud to be part of a dedicated and professional Early Years sector and hope that I am sufficiently open-minded to weigh up the research and experience of the real experts, who believe that pre-school children should be in specialist ‘pre-school’ environments. For our political leaders – the clue is in the name, ‘pre-school’.

Hooray!  An article in the Independent today reports the finding of Professor Joshi at the University of London’s Centre for Longitudinal Studies, who says that  Studies of previous decades showed children’s literacy and numeracy levels were around 2 per cent lower when mothers worked. Read the rest of this entry »






I was a bit surprised at the flurry of comments on Twitter this morning, following an article in C&YPN magazine

which stated that the National Day Nurseries Association would be trialling maximum current ratios allowed under the EYFS. Many people interpreted this as a project to trial the lower ratios proposed in Liz Truss’s ‘More Great Childcare’ report from earlier this year, which has met with near universal condemnation. I have been outspoke
n about my concern around the proposals, so was relieved to read a more detailed response from Claire Schofield at NDNA, which explained that a small part of the funding which has just been announced was going to be used on a trial of maximum current ratios. At present in the EYFS there is allowance for ‘rising 3s’ to be included in a lower ratio group if the children’s needs are being met. There is also the allowance for 1 member of staff to 13 pre-schoolers, if that person has EYP status. We have not used this allowance in any of our settings to date, but I do know some nurseries use the higher allowance with an EYP. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the debate, there is no harm in carrying out a properly structured research project, which may highlight problems or potential benefits, but at least it will have been studied carefully.

Whilst many folk are off to check out the latest fashionable childcare model in Europe, we keep telling ministers and officials that they aren’t comparing apples with apples. At least a project in the UK, looking at UK nurseries, might provide some evidence which we know will be truly relevant to our settings. Surely this must be a good thing?



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