Help the misled parents

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'Now will mothers stop sending children to baby farms', 'Toddlers left to cry at busy nurseries', 'Children neglected at start of the day in many nurseries' - these are just some of the headlines we have seen in the media after Ofsted's briefing 'Early Doors: experiences for children in daycare during the first hour of the day'. That familiar feeling of guilt has once again surfaced for parents. Leaving their child at nursery in the morning is hard enough, but now they have visions of children left crying and strapped into chairs with no toys to play with.

'Now will mothers stop sending children to baby farms', 'Toddlers left to cry at busy nurseries', 'Children neglected at start of the day in many nurseries' -these are just some of the headlines we have seen in the media after Ofsted's briefing 'Early Doors: experiences for children in daycare during the first hour of the day'.

That familiar feeling of guilt has once again surfaced for parents. Leaving their child at nursery in the morning is hard enough, but now they have visions of children left crying and strapped into chairs with no toys to play with.

The articles paint a picture of widespread neglect at nurseries. However, what many of them fail to mention is that Ofsted only visited 45 nurseries for this report.

The recommendations that Ofsted make in the report do give good guidelines for best practice. It is important to make sure that children feel settled as soon as they arrive at nursery and that parents are reassured that their child is happy and engaged in appropriate activities for the day.

But it should be noted that while many nurseries would like to increase adult:child ratios, as per one of the suggestions, it is not a viable option for many who are already struggling with sustainability.

Once again nursery practitioners have been left to pick up the pieces from irresponsible media headlines. We must all hold our heads high and remember the important work we do. We urge all practitioners to read the Ofsted report and consider the recommendations for best practice. We should also play our part in restoring confidence with parents by explaining the facts of the report and reassuring them that caring for their children is at the heart of everything we do.

* Purnima Tanuku, chief executive, National Day Nurseries Association

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