Editor's view - the end of the DCSF

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The rebranding of the department overseeing early years is sending worrying signals

After the election, it's the end of the rainbow! Out goes the Department for Children, Schools and Families, with its multi-coloured logo and cartoon children; in comes the Department for Education, austere in style and title (see News, page 4).

What's in a name? Well, the signals from this rebranding will set off some alarm bells for those in early years and childcare. New education secretary Michael Gove has already made it clear that he wants the department to refocus on 'its core purpose of supporting teaching and learning'. His first priority is freeing schools from local authority control.

Children's services remains within the department's remit, but can it retain its high profile? Rising LibDem star Sarah Teather has been made Minister for Children and Families; Tory Tim Loughton (formerly shadow spokesman for children, who has made trips to Scandinavia to see its early years services) is junior minister. But there is no place for LibDem Annette Brooke, who was a strong advocate for childcare and nursery education and had built up impressive knowledge.

In the course of Labour's administration, the first-ever Children's Minister, Margaret Hodge, was appointed, and the department took children and families into its name as at least some progress was made towards integrating children's services. Despite these moves, 'childcare' and 'education' are still separate entities, as Professor Peter Moss pointed out in his analysis for Nursery World on 5 May - 'a rhetoric that says they are inseparable is not backed by how we talk, think and act'.

We must maintain the vision of a fully integrated early childhood service, but that crock of gold seems a distant prospect at the moment.

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