To the point - Speak up for children

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It's difficult to know where best to focus these words, since I am still reeling from so many of the misconceived suggestions in Elizabeth Truss's proposals.

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By now, I hope she will have been taken aback by widespread outrage responding to issues such as:

  • proposals on adult-child ratios which would leave the youngest children unsupported and unsafe

  • regulating floor space as a 'trivial' matter

  • taking two-year-olds into schools to be 'taught' by primary teachers

  • establishing Ofsted as the sole arbiter of quality, replacing local authority teams who know settings and the community well with Ofsted inspectors who, experience shows, are highly variable.

Changes to workforce qualifications remain muddied. Why assume that early years teachers without QTS would gain higher status and reward than early years professionals currently have? Would childminders who are part of an agency be seen as babysitters, with less emphasis on a well-trained professional role? And will the Government grasp the challenge of a timetable to insist on highly qualified staff in all settings?

These proposals betray a lack of understanding of early development and quality provision, with true quality for children losing out to a primary drive to get women into work. It was striking that the initial radio interview with the minister focused on the national economics of the female workforce alongside cost, availability and choice for parents.

When the minister does talk about provision for children, alarm bells ring. She explains that early years staff should be qualified with maths and English GCSEs because parents expect staff to 'teach their children to speak and add up'. She describes 'structured group learning' as benefiting toddlers and young children, and speaks favourably of an academy where three-year-olds are taught to sit still, to pay attention to the blackboard and to walk down corridors in a silent crocodile?

Let decision-makers know your views.

Speak up before the rug is pulled from under us.

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