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The recent terrible events in Machynlleth force those of us who call for a more balanced approach to risk in childhood to take stock.

It seems a long time since the Nutbrown Review of early years qualifications appeared - 19 June to be precise.

I have been asked by the Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA) to be an ambassador for its National Schools Meals Week (NSMW). This is the biggest national healthy eating awareness week about school meals in Britain. This year it takes place on 5-9 November and encourages everyone to 'get involved' in preparing healthy school dinners.

The Government and several of the think tanks that sympathise with its policies are making a lot of noise about the cost of childcare and about how it must be made more affordable to parents.

The Olympics and Paralympics brought cheer to millions, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the pageantry of the opening ceremony and much of the sporting drama. But what are our priorities? Would we rather pay for entertainment, or support the life chances of several million children by improving the essential skills of communication and language?

It's been quite a week - beginning with Nick Clegg's announcement of 100 million of capital funding to help providers offer the free places for disadvantaged two-year-olds and ending with the Nursery World Awards event at the Lancaster London!

Quality in childcare matters. High-quality provision imp- roves child development, school readiness and longer-term outcomes for children, from earning potential to life expectancy. Low-quality childcare can minimise the benefits, or even result in long-lasting negative effects, on development.

Back in 2008 when I conducted a series of interviews with nursery workers and teachers I was genuinely shocked to discover just how much their world had changed.

A debate has been running largely unnoticed in the mainstream media about the Government's plans to allow parents to share more of the leave currently allocated to mothers as maternity leave, say Nick Pearce.

Much of the early years sector's attention over the past few months has understandably been focused on the revised Early Years Foundation Stage and new Ofsted inspection framework, now both in place.

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