Government Drops Controversial Nursery Care Plans June 06 2013
Finally .... a political u-turn that is actually good news!!!
As a speech and language therapist and parent I can whole heartedly say 'Hooray! They actually listened to us!'. The deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has finally seen sense and has announced that plans to reform childcare in the UK have been scrapped.
In a very misinformed and drastic bid to reduce the costs of childcare for parents in the UK the government had formulated the 'More Great Childcare' proposal. If plans had gone through we would have seen an increase in the ratio of children to carers, as long as carers' qualifications met new standards.
Thankfully the proposals were put out to consultation and early years experts and parents campaigned fiercely against them. As every parent and childcare worker knows - its the quality of the time and interaction that we spend with our children that has the greatest impact on their development.
It's a simple matter of arithmetic - if you increase the ratio of under ones from 3 babies per adult to 4 per adult and the under twos from 4 toddlers per adult to 6 - then that means less time to watch, wait and listen to each child and respond appropriately.
In his statement, Clegg said "When you are talking about something this important to parents, I think it is imperative to be led by the evidence - which is overwhelmingly against changing the rules on ratios."
Mumsnet co-founder Justine Roberts summed it up perfectly "Put simply, four babies under one or six under-twos is a lot for even the most experienced childcare worker to manage."
Children in early years settings need and deserve the adults around them to have the time and skills to engage in what Siraj and Sylva (2004) called 'sustained shared thinking'(1).
These are simply conversations between adults and children in which the adult and child 'work together in an intellectual way to solve a problem, clarify a concept, evaluate an activity, extend a narrative'.
These thinking skills are vital for children to develop as 'life-long learners' - an essential skill when growing up in an economic structure where jobs are no longer 'for life' and a child must master the flexibility needed as adults to adapt to several career changes (2).
Basically, adults need time to stay and chat with a child about how they can build their tower so it doesn't wobble and fall, without the stress and distraction of having to keep an eye out on an extra two children.
You can find a whole range of tips on how to encourage your child's thinking skills in the Talented Talk video on the website.
- Siraj-Blatchford I, Sylva K (2004) Researching pedagogy in English pre-schools. British Educational Research Journal 30(5):713-730
- Siraj-Blatchford I, Sylva K, Melhuish E et al (2004) EPPE: Final Report. DfES and Institute of Education, University of London, London