Posts Tagged ‘Early Years Professional’

A sense of place…

March 25th, 2019 by Sarah Steel

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Flo’s Place in Oxford, having last seen it several months ago, when it was just an idea. It is a former children’s centre in a very mixed part of Oxford, which has been transformed into a community centre by its Trustees, who wanted something that really served the local community. The ‘anchor tenant’ of this centre is a children’s nursery, which has been put together with a lot of support from Annie Davy, former Head of Early Years in Oxfordshire. It was fantastic to visit on a sunny day and see people using the nursery, cafe and midwives to give a vibrant and buzzing feeling of purpose. I wished I had something on my doorstep like it, when I was a new Mum. I hope it continues to thrive and becomes part of the community.

Annie also gave me a copy of her latest book, ‘A Sense of Place’, which is a lovely deep dive into ‘mindful practice outdoors’. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an interest in Early Years provision and think it should be on the reading list for all Early Years students. It will certainly be doing the rounds within our company! There are lots of ideas of activities included, but also it prompts you to reflect on why we do what we do. I particularly like the section on risk benefit, so that teams can think about the hazards of working outdoors and how they can manage these risks, as well as teaching children about risk taking and keeping safe. I hope that every OFSTED inspector who visits us has also read Annie’s book!

As Margaret MacMillan so famously said, ‘The best classroom and the richest store cupboard is roofed only by the sky.’ For more details of Annie’s book see: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/a-sense-of-place-9781472953650/

Why your vocabulary is so important for children

January 8th, 2017 by Sarah Steel

We already know how important it is to talk to children and not just ‘park’ them in front of screens, but this article quotes expert Michael Jones and makes fascinating reading. He reminds us that it can take a child up to 500 times to learn a new word, so we need to surround them with a ‘language rich environment’.  The temptation to ‘dumb-down’ should be resisted – a ‘baby horse’ is a ‘foal’, and a ‘baby lion’ is a ‘lion cub’.

I remember hearing Penny Tassoni talking at a conference a couple of years ago. She recounted a story of seeing a child in pre-school being asked ‘what colour was the post box’. The child rolled her eyes and said ‘red’. She was reading the same story again, after nearly 2 years in pre-school, and had clearly heard the question many times. How much more exciting to describe the post-box as ‘scarlet’ or explain the term ‘letterbox red’?

I have heard many a 2 year old explaining that the ‘stegosauraus’ is fighting with the ‘diplodocus’. If they can manage to remember complex words when they interest them, surely we should supply with them with as many interesting words as we can?

Food for thought – for parents and practitioners alike!

http://www.daynurseries.co.uk/news/article.cfm/id/1580985/nursery-practitioners-urged-not-simplify-languagedsc_0319

A to Z of attachment

December 2nd, 2015 by Sarah Steel

This is a lovely document for parents and carers explaining how we can all help children to benefit from the most secure attachments, which will help them to flourish right from the start. As a company we’ve had a real focus on attachments this year, with training carried out by Suzanne Zeedyk and a review of how we work with children and families, particularly during times of transition. Do let me know what you think…….AtoZofAttachmentandResilience2014SouthLan_tcm4-843853 20151105_140407

What does the Spending Review mean for Early Years?

November 26th, 2015 by Sarah Steel

The key points which have emerged from yesterday’s spending review so far look like this:

  • The average rate for 3 and 4 year olds will be £4.88. The small print is yet to be clarified, but this figure included the Early Years Pupil Premium, for disadvantaged children, which DfE say is worth 5p within this calculation. Whilst this sounds positive as a headline figure, it seems likely that this figure will be what is paid to local authorities, not what will actually be paid to providers. DfE have said that the average ‘uplift’ is more likely to be 30p an hour – really not so impressive. There is no detail about the money being index linked, so bearing in mind it doesn’t even come into action until September 2017, costs will have risen significantly by then. The NMW is due to reach £9 per hour by 2015 – how will the funding rate increase to match this?
  • The average rate for 2 year olds will be £5.39. Concerns are as for the 3 year old rate.
  • The rates for 2, 3 and 4 year olds are for PVIs, childminders, primary schools and maintained nurseries. It will be interesting to see what guidance is given to local authorities about whether rates should be uniform across sectors or whether maintained settings will continue to be paid a higher rate.
  • There will be a consultation in January around how local authorities pass on funding and contract with providers.
  • DfE will be introducing a national funding formula for early years, schools and high needs from 2017-18.
  • DfE will clarify what extras providers can charge for (e.g. food, extra activities) and will look at flexibilities, efficiencies and cutting red tape. This is very welcome as it causes considerable confusion for settings and parents alike.
  • The new 30 hour childcare offer is going to be restricted to single/both parents who work 16 hours per week and earn up to £100k each. When the policy was launched in the summer, it had been promoted as applying to anyone working from 8 hours, so this reduces the number of children who are eligible.
  • The new funding rates will not come in until September 2017.

As usual, the devil will be in the detail. The initial figures sound promising for early years, but until there is clarity on how local authorities will pass on the funding, we are not really much further on. I will be continuing to work with the National Day Nurseries Association to represent the concerns of PVI nurseries.

 

Do children always want to solve the problem?

November 15th, 2015 by Sarah Steel

In my last blog I wrote about the challenges of ‘product’ over ‘process’, where we feel pressure in early years settings to produce pictures, cards, calendars and ‘stuff’ for children to take home to show parents, rather than allowing them to be fully engaged in all types of play, especially imaginative play, which doesn’t have a visible product. This lovely article, which is written by Judith Pack, was featured by Community Playthings this week in their e-newsletter. We use the beautiful furniture and resources made by Community Playthings in all our nurseries and I know that they are keen proponents of natural play resources and the chance for children to explore nature rather than be limited by expectations of producing something to take home.

Do read what Judith says about children’s love of mystery and I hope you will hear lots of our practitioners around the nurseries asking, ‘I wonder what would happen if…..’

http://www.communityplaythings.co.uk/learning-library/articles/the-childs-love-of-mystery?source=pal125

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