We have also worked in partnership with Early Education to produce a briefing for school leaders thinking of taking two-year-olds, written by Julian Grenier and Helen Moylett, which aims to tackle the challenges for schools in providing the right experiences and environment.
The Government has continued to push for schools to take ever younger children, so it is very disappointing to see the level of 'advice' given by a DfE-funded website about school-based provision for two-year-olds (see News, pages 4-5).
'The Learning Exchange' on the Family Action website gives a host of worrying recommendations in its 'tip sheet', much of which seems aimed at going down the cheapest route. This includes trying 'not to over-qualify' staff and giving them 'flexible' contracts; putting two-year-olds in the same space as older children with a similarly structured day; and advising that twos may not need 'one-to-one attention'.
Some of the tips are just laughable - apparently nappy-changing 'may usually take place mid-morning, after lunch or before sleep, mid-afternoon and after tea time, as well as other times, as when necessary'!
But the overall effect is just to make you want to weep at the impoverished view of what constitutes suitable provision for vulnerable children who need the very best to support them to overcome disadvantage, funded by the Government department that has held schools up as the preferred option.
Schools, PVIs and children's centres can all offer high-quality services with the right staff, environment and leadership, but this isn't going to help at all!