Opinion: Editor's view - The new Code of Practice is arousing anger and confusion

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Reading the whole of the Code of Practice for Free Early Years Provision is enough to give anybody a headache - particularly, of course, if you are a private or voluntary sector setting or in a local authority!

I found that I was still in the dark on various aspects after an admittedly fairly speedy run-through. And judging by the many phone calls and e-mails that we have received in the past week or so from anxious and/or angry providers, so are many others (see Analysis, pages 10-11).

One problem is that something that seems quite clear in one section can then seem to be different or ambiguous in another. For example, the Code says, 'Local authorities should ensure that providers which they fund to deliver the free entitlement do not impose on parents conditions of access to which they must agree in order to take up their free hours, ie parents must not be obligated to purchase additional hours or pay lunchtime charges in order to secure free provision.'

Sounds fairly unequivocal, doesn't it. Yet later on there is much talk of partnership and negotiation between authority and each provider as to how they can 'contribute' to their local offer. And one large chain rang us to say they had had DCSF advice that they didn't have to offer just the free 15 hours to a parent.

And there is the question of 'extra lessons or visits' that 'don't come under the EYFS'. The holistic nature of the EYFS means that this is hard to grasp - trips out seem clearly within the EYFS, ballet lessons arguably less so. Will certain children have to sit on the sidelines?

Communication is needed - and quickly!

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