I very much hope that practitioners will warn parents about the dangers of using the internet to find babysitters, following an incident on Gumtree where a convicted paedophile advertised himself as a babysitter, so that he could film himself abusing young girls.
The current economic climate has made things tougher for families and, because of this, some opt for 'quick fix' solutions and use the internet to find their childcare. This means they only have to pay a nominal advertising fee, or something similar. These sites provide no formal checks or guarantees as to the identity or credibility of the person.
The Association of Nanny Agencies (ANA) has a professional code of conduct in place to ensure all agencies meet with the legal obligations and duty of care for both the nanny and the parent. Although using an ANA-approved agency is a more expensive way of finding childcare, there is a methodical process in place to ensure candidates are credited for the professional carers they are and that parents benefit from knowing their childcarers are vetted and approved by agencies.
Angela Spencer, Select Nannies
Our star letter wins £30 worth of books
We recently received the first ever 'Children's Safety Assured Standard Certificate of Door Safety Compliance' from the Children's Charter. It recognises our decision to have our doors assessed by a door safety specialist who complies with the Children's Safety Assured Door Safety Standard.
The qualified assessor confirmed our suspicions that our existing finger shields were unsuitable, and recommended a safe replacement, which we have installed on every door. This confirms to parents we are doing everything we can to provide the safest environment possible for their children. We hope to encourage other nurseries to have their door safety systems assessed and to get a certificate too.
Denise O'Sullivan, Little Diamonds Nursery, Walthamstow, London
I was very interested in the debate on the letters page between Margaret Edgington and Nancy Stewart regarding the role of observation and assessment in the revised EYFS, particularly within the context of less paperwork for practitioners (26 November - 9 December 2012). I have a high regard for both of these early years consultants, and do understand both perspectives.
I have supported many practitioners and students over the years in understanding the importance of observation and assessment, and in developing systems that work for their individual setting. At the same time I have seen many wonderfully detailed Learning Journeys that are over and above the requirements of recording simply and objectively where each child is and where they need to go next.
My stance is that the flexibility granted within the revised EYFS will highlight the different levels of practice wisdom among practitioners. Practice wisdom is reflected in experience, knowledge and understanding, a keen interest in young children's learning and is sometimes learned within a setting culture. Some will feel confident in recording only that which is necessary, allowing more time to interact and observe directly with the children. Others will always want to work hard at producing wonderful records of children's progress to share with parents.
At the end of the day it comes down to meeting the needs of the child within the statutory requirements of the EYFS. If you apply your practice wisdom knowledgeably and confidently, whether you choose to create detailed Learning Journeys or not, is a setting decision. This is exactly why the sector needs qualified, confident and 'tuned in' practitioners.
Janet Uwins, independent early years consultant
I have just read the article by Nancy Stewart (To the Point 12-25 November) and I am still reeling with incredulity!
For years we have worked hard in our nursery to develop staff, students, NQTs and children centre practitioners' skills in observing and identifying learning. Documentation is an essential tool for us to demonstrate progress, to show parents in a pictorial way what their child can do. It builds an image of the child as a learner and has changed parents' view of their child. It is the backbone of planning and assessment.
Sylvie Gambell, Mary Paterson Nursery School, London
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