Early years education

Early years and childcare sector at risk of collapse in England | Education

The future of the early years and childcare sector is at risk in England, the Early Years Alliance (EYA) has said, as fewer than half of parents with young children plan to take up their childcare places on 1 June. Just over 40% of parents of under-fives say they will send their children back to nursery, preschool or childminders this week, according to a poll by the EYA of more than 6,300 care providers. A further 13% of parents say…

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Testing four-year-olds to begin in September – but parents kept in dark | Education

Sophia is four and shy, especially around strangers. In September she starts school and Hayley Phillips, her mother, already worried about how her daughter will settle in, has found out she will have to sit a test. In the first six weeks of the new school year, four- and five-year-olds in nearly 10,000 schools, about half of the primary schools in England, will be taken out of class and asked questions for the new reception baseline assessment (RBA). Phillips knew…

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England plans to send the wrong children back to school at the wrong time | Laura McInerney | Education

We have built a world where parents need the childcare provided by the school system. In some families parents are working at night, or rising at 5am to sustain a struggling business before their children wake up. They may more urgently feel the need for schools to reopen than those who can happily juggle a few hours of homeschooling with working from home. But think about what primary teachers are facing with the prospect of suddenly going back to school…

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UK childcare industry ‘crushed’ by coronavirus crisis | Education

More than 10,000 childcare providers in the UK are likely to have folded or gone out of business by the end of the coronavirus lockdown, with leaders saying the sector has been “crushed” by financial instability and a fall in demand. A survey by the Childcare online platform found nearly one in six of more than 2,000 providers said they were likely to have permanently closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, while one in three said they were unsure if…

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Should the taxpayer continue to fund free school meals? | Education

Universal free meals for children in key stage 1 are rumoured to be under threat, possibly in tomorrow’s budget. The policy has been controversial since it was introduced in 2014 by the coalition government. Tony Davies headteacher, St Matthew’s primary school, Cambridge YES. I questioned the policy when it started as I thought the funding could have been targeted at the children who most needed it. But I have seen the impact it has had on my school. There’s been…

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Teachers call for action to save crisis-hit state nursery schools | Education

State nurseries in Britain are facing a financial crisis after years of “unjustifiable neglect” and indecision by the government, teachers warn as they prepare to petition the prime minister to “save maintained nursery schools”. Headteachers, parents and children will gather at Downing Street on Monday to hand in a petition calling for increased state funding for nurseries to secure their long-term future. Maintained nurseries are run and inspected like schools, with qualified teachers leading a team of early years specialists,…

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Nurseries ‘failing vulnerable children’ amid staffing crisis | Education

The former children’s commissioner for England has called for an investigation into early years education amid concerns about a staff recruitment crisis in nurseries due to lack of training and low morale. Sir Al Aynsley-Green accused the government of denying the importance of children’s early years and depriving the most vulnerable in society of the support they need when very young. Aynsley-Green, a paediatric endocrinologist who served as the children’s commissioner for England from 2005 to 2009, said an independent…

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Career paths: how these apprentices from the 1990s reached the top | Education

Government figures indicate that almost a quarter of a million people started a modern apprenticeship scheme in the five years following their introduction in 1994. The people below are just six of those hundreds of thousands who became apprentices in sectors from business to stonemasonry between 1994 and 1999. Although not all of our six interviewees enjoyed or valued every aspect of their apprenticeship, every one considers now that the scheme they joined was a worthwhile way to start their…

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Sustainability must start in the nursery | Letter | Education

As a coalition of early years educators, we are alarmed that sustainability hasn’t been given a stronger focus in the government consultation on reforms to the early years foundation stage, which closes this Friday. Politicians of all parties must urgently acknowledge and address the vital impact that sustainability must have on saving future generations and our planet. We can only make a lasting difference by teaching the next generation about the values of sustainability. In England we start this too…

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‘Schools are killing curiosity’: why we need to stop telling children to shut up and learn | Education

Young children sit cross-legged on the mat as their teacher prepares to teach them about the weather, equipped with pictures of clouds. Outside the classroom, lightning forks across a dark sky and thunder rumbles. Curious children call out and point, but the teacher draws their attention back – that is not how the lesson target says they are going to learn about the weather. It could be a scene in almost any school. Children, full of questions about things that…

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No grammar schools, lots of play: the secrets of Europe’s top education system | Education

It’s a warm September afternoon in the Kallio district of Helsinki. Out in the Franzenia daycare centre playground, groups of four- and five-year-olds roam contentedly. “Would you like an ice-cream?” asks one, having set up her elaborate “stall” on the edge of the sandpit. Kindergarten staff move among the children, chatting, observing and making written notes. There is nothing outwardly distinctive about the centre, though with 200 children, it is the city’s largest. It is a tall, somewhat dour former…

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Is misused neuroscience defining early years and child protection policy? | Education

“Neuroscience can now explain why early conditions are so crucial,” wrote Graham Allen and Iain Duncan Smith in their 2010 collaboration, Early Intervention: Good Parents, Great Kids, Better Citizens. “The more positive stimuli a baby is given, the more brain cells and synapses it will be able to develop.”  Neuroscience is huge in early years policy. This week, in what’s been characterised as the largest shake-up of family law in a generation, the 26-week time limit for adoption proceedings has…

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Children should learn mainly through play until age of eight, says Lego | Education

Parents are squeezing the role of play out of their children’s lives in favour of the three ‘R’s as they try to prepare their offspring for a competitive world, according to the head of Lego’s education charity arm. A lack of understanding of the value of play is prompting parents and schools alike to reduce it as a priority, says Hanne Rasmussen, head of the Lego Foundation. If parents and governments push children towards numeracy and literacy earlier and earlier,…

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Fears that new tests will damage four-year-olds ‘unfounded’ | Education

With studious concentration the four-year-old lines up blue plastic bears and counts to five. Then she points to grass in a picture and recognises the letter “g”. She is one of the first children to take the government’s new reception baseline assessments for four and five-year-olds piloted in 9,000 schools and nurseries in England over the past six weeks. The idea of testing such young children as they start school is controversial, especially with early-years teachers and parents who last…

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Ofsted plan to inspect ‘cultural capital’ in schools attacked as elitist | Education

A two-word term, invented in the 1970s by a French sociologist heavily influenced by Karl Marx, makes an unlikely entrance in Ofsted’s new framework [pdf] for the inspection of schools in England this week. Each institution is now to be judged on the extent to which it builds pupils’ “cultural capital”. What exactly does that mean? Users of the term, including the schools minister Nick Gibb and the former education secretary Michael Gove, suggest it is about ensuring that disadvantaged…

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Secret Teacher: teaching children without play was soul-destroying | Teacher Network

One year, during Sats preparation, I watched as a number of my year 2 students cried because the paper was too difficult. I told them not to worry and to just try their best, but inside I felt dreadful. I knew that no matter how hard they cried, I would force them to continue. I’ve been a teacher for five years and I love working with children. But I’ve realised I don’t want to teach them any more. After spending…

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