Network Whispers - Data loss, phonics and scams

Nursery World and NDNA join forces for a behind-the-scenes column

DELETED FROM HISTORY? Data geeks have complained that the (now slimmed down) DfE provider’s survey has stopped collecting as much detail about Early Years Teachers or Children’s Centres as previously. ‘We think it is political,’ said one. As Pamela Calder wrote in ‘Is childcare working?’ (Nursery World, 29 April), ‘If we don’t have the data to take a measure of how things are, then we can’t see if things are improving.’

PHONIC PANICS Bold Beginnings controversially asserted that the ‘core purpose’ of Reception should be ‘the teaching of reading, including systematic synthetic phonics’. Now parents at one school have received a letter asking them to practise past test papers with their six-year-olds ‘as often as possible’ and been provided with resources so they can gen up on digraphs, trigraphs and phonemes. One parent-teacher said, ‘I am furious that the Government are introducing testing at younger and younger ages and sympathetic with my child’s teachers that their time is being wasted on this nonsense.’

SCAMALOT A nursery has been threatened by a fake debt collector. They were told a bailiff would turn up in ten minutes unless they transferred £600 to their account. A manager said, ‘Our finance officer asked him for paperwork – they said that would cost another £400, and £200 for a locksmith.’ The manager has arranged for a real bailiff to attend a staff meeting to discuss how they operate.

UNDER REVIEW The DfE will reopen the issue of Children’s Centres after scrapping its pledged review last year. According to the response to an Education Select Committee report on early years disadvantage, it will commission a report on models of delivering early years services ‘including children’s centres and family hubs’. Given the DfE’s history of pledging action and then not following it up, Whispers is sceptical this will lead to a rebirth.

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