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Nursery & Early Years News June 2021

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

The UK Government Funding Early Years Level 3 Qualification for Free For Ages 24 and Over

As the lockdown restrictions are reduced the government’s focus is on recovering from the pandemic and building back better and as part of this the Level 3 Early Years Educator course is now free for any person aged 24 and above as part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee scheme.

The course is available as one of the 400 free qualifications being offered for adults in the UK who have not already achieved a Level 3 qualification which is equivalent to A-levels and you qualify for the course to be fully funded if you start it by 31 July 2021.

Anyone studying for one of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee courses will be able to train full time for up to 12 weeks, or up to 16 weeks on a full-time skills boot camp in England whilst receiving Universal Credit to support their living costs.

Nurseries are struggling to fill their Level 3 posts with one owner of two nurseries rated 'Outstanding' admitting the situation has led her to give up on job adverts and rely on her ‘ homegrown’ staff to meet her expanding business.

While nurseries are seeing staff leave and move out of the childcare sector, the nursery director believes many factors including pay, the Covid pandemic and the government’s decision to change the qualification standard have contributed to the early sector’s Level 3 recruitment woes. Read the full article here:

The launch of the free qualifications for adults will support Nurseries to be able to recruit the qualified staff they need to run effectively and efficiently and to provide excellent care in the community.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “As we cautiously lift lockdown restrictions, the government’s focus is on recovering from the pandemic and building back better.

“The Lifetime Skills Guarantee is fundamental to that – with free courses giving adults the expertise they need to find new, better jobs.

“My message is clear. At every stage of your life, we will help you get the skills you need to train, retrain, and get into jobs you want and our economy needs.”

The Lifetime Skills Guarantee scheme is backed by £95m of government funding for 2021/22 and it aims to transform the skills system so everyone in the UK, no matter where they live or their background is able to gain the skills they need to progress in work at any point of their lives.

The scheme will also ensure employers have access to the skilled workforce they need as it focuses on the skill gaps that exist now, and will do in the future. It encourages people to be able to afford to gain qualifications in these areas to boost their career prospects, wages whilst filling skill gaps and supporting the economy and building back better.

The launch of the free qualifications for adults will ensure everyone can train, retrain or upskill throughout their lives and it is amazing that the Early Years Level 3 Qualification has been included as part of the scheme. This will support nurseries to have qualified carers who understand the importance of nurturing learning, play and support.

You can find more information about the Lifetime Skills Guarantee Scheme and Courses here:

Tribute Paid to Academic Who Championed Learning Through Play

Dr David Whitebread, who was an influential academic and researcher in developmental psychology and early childhood education and who championed learning through play has died.

Cambridge University announced his death and paid tribute to Dr David Whitebread after working there since 1986.

He was internationally recognised as a leading authority in the understanding of self-regulation and metacognition in young children, taught in primary schools for 12 years before joining Cambridge University.

Dr David Whitebread began his career as the manager of the Primary PGCE course at Cambridge University at Homerton College. He established the early years specialist route for trainees wanting to work with the 3-7 age group and he continued to teach the course until his retirement. He didn't just work in the UK and he gave lectures and undertook consultancies in many countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Chile, China, India, Poland, Uganda, the USA, and Tanzania.

David’s “passion and knowledge influenced a long line of teachers as well as the children they taught across the world, many who were inspired and inf;uenced to go on to become eminent practitioners and researchers in the early years sector”, according to Professor Robertson.

He was also actively involved in research and international outreach programmes with the LEGO Foundation, establishing a long-lasting collaboration which impacted the lives of many children by providing opportunities for learning through play.

Supported by the LEGO Foundation, he founded the research centre for Play in Education, Development and Learning (PEDAL), which he oversaw until his retirement. The PEDAL centre is committed to forming new generations of researchers dedicated to understanding the role of play in child development and education.

Dr Whitebread worked tirelessly and continually to change educational policy, campaigning against changes to the school starting age in the UK, high stakes testing in the early years, and advocated for the importance of play-based education.

His books include ‘Developmental Psychology and Early Childhood Education: A Guide for Students and Practitioners’ and ‘Teaching and Learning in the Early Years’.

According to Professor Susan Robertson, head of Faculty of Education at Cambridge University, his background in primary school teaching imbued him with “a deep understanding of educational practice, wide collaboration with teachers, and a fun-loving, playful way of conducting his teaching and projects”.

She said: “David’s passing is a huge loss to the psychology and education community and he will be hugely missed by everyone who knew him at the Faculty.

“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his wife, Linda Whitebread, their daughters Elisabeth and Sarah, and with David’s friends, former students, and colleagues.”

Iram Siraj, Professor of Child Development & Education, University of Oxford, tweeted: “I am stunned and deeply saddened to hear that Dr David Whitebread's died this week. He was one of the best ECEC experts and a wonderful, kind and funny man. He contributed greatly to the understanding of self-regulation and children's metacognitive talk.”

Teachers and children across the world have benefited from Dr David Whitebread enthusiasm and dedication to early years education throughout his life and we are all truly saddened by his passing.

Labour Launches 'Big Conversation' on Early Years Attacking the Government for Reduced Spending

Shadow Early Years Minister Tulip Siddiq joined Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green and London Mayor Sadiq Khan at a London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) nursery to launch the ‘big conversation’ on the early years which is to 'ensure every child can recover from the pandemic and lockdown and achieve their full potential'.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan at Harrow Road Nursery & Pre-School

The Labour Party is holding a series of Early Years events to highlight their importance and is criticising the Conservative government for slashing spending on Sure Start children’s centres and children under the age of five by 40 per cent since 2015.

Tulip Siddiq MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Children and Early Years said: “The early years are critical for a child’s development and childcare is a fundamental building block of our economy but, over the last decade, early years services have been neglected.

“This Conservative Government has failed to listen to families who have been unable to get the childcare, early education and wellbeing support they need.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, we need to have a big conversation with the public about how we can rebuild this essential infrastructure.”

Analysis by Labour shows that on top of the 12,000 early education and childcare providers that have left the profession since 2015, 30,000 more early years providers are at risk of closure within a year.

Millions of parents – particularly mothers – rely on formal childcare in order to work, and Labour claims 345,000 women would be at risk of losing their jobs if further childcare providers were lost.

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, added: “The Conservatives have treated children as an afterthought throughout this pandemic, with no plan to protect early years providers nor support the families who rely on their vital services.

“Labour wants to see children at the heart of our national recovery.”

Read why Labour feel this is such an important policy or or to contact The London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) here:

Peaky BlindersStar to Launch UK's First Ofsted Mobile Nursery for Film-working Parents

Actor Charlotte Riley, who starred in the TV show Peaky Blinders is spearheading a campaign for every film and TV production to allocate a budget for childcare and for the industry to prioritise accessible support for working parents.

Charlotte and business partner Mark Radcliffe founded the UK’s first dedicated childcare facility in the film studio Warner Bros in Leavesdenhave now penned an open letter to the industry with the accompanying Twitter hashtag #keepfamiliesinfilm

They are calling for more support for people in the industry who often have to decide between working their dream job or starting a family. They want major productions to have nurseries and smaller productions to offer assistance with childcare.

They argue that a lack of universal flexible and accessible childcare is impacting diversity and equality in the industry.

The two are now campaigning to improve film sets for working parents who need childcare and opened a mobile nursery in May.

‘Molly’ is the new mobile double-decker nursery founded by the actor which will deliver childcare facilities, wherever production companies need it for remote shoots. The WonderWorks nursery was recently opened in September and is based at Warner Bros Leavesden Studios. The nursery asks the productions filming at the studios to buy places at the nursery upfront which underwrites the costs, parents then pay them back when working and their child is attending. There is also a holiday club planned for school-age children.

The WonderWorks nursery childcare places are available to children of WarnerMedia staff, Leavesden-based productions, tenant companies based at Leavesden Park and members of the Production Guild. It is open 365 days a year for children aged from birth to five years. At the nursery, mothers can also breastfeed.

Charlotte Riley: “We say enough. It is time to make a change and to level the playing field- but you can't talk equality without talking childcare.”

The campaign is calling for film studios and production companies to factor in childcare for television and film workers to prevent parents from leaving the industry. The aim is for every production to include childcare in its budget by 2024.

Risk-averse Parents Banning Adventurous Play

The British Children’s Play is the largest study of play in the UK and has found we are seeing an increasing trend of risk-averse parents, who are restricting children from playing independently and stopping them from taking part in adventurous play.

The survey asked 1,919 parents about children’s play for those aged five to 11.

The study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research into Public Health found:

  • the average age that a child was allowed to play outside alone was just before their 11th birthday (an average of 10.74 years)

  • furthermore, parents who took part in the study were relatively risk-averse in relation to their children’s play, according to researchers who found they restricted adventurous play such as climbing trees and riding a bike fast down a hill

Helen Dodd, Professor of Child Psychology at the University of Reading who led the study said: “In the largest study of play in Britain, we can clearly see that there is a trend to be protective and to provide less freedom for our children now than in previous generations. As this is the largest study of its kind, it gives us the data to back up what many have observed is happening. The reasons for this shift are complex but likely due, at least in part, to concerns about stranger danger and the increase in traffic in the neighbourhoods where children live and play.”

The report revealed that primary school children on average, are getting just three hours of play a day over the course of a year, with around half of play taking place outside.

Professor Dodd added: “The concerns we have from this report are twofold. First, we are seeing children getting towards the end of their primary school years without having had enough opportunities to develop their ability to assess and manage risk independently. Second, if children are getting less time to play outdoors in an adventurous way, this may have an impact on their mental health and overall wellbeing.”

The team of child psychologists from the University of Reading are looking at the relationship between risk-taking in play and the benefits for children’s mental health. Their findings suggest that although children spend a reasonable amount of time outside, they may be missing out on many of the freedoms, particularly to explore and play in an adventurous way, that previous generations enjoyed.

Professor Helen Dodd called for urban planners to ensure all children have access to playgrounds and green spaces that are “engaging and interesting places for children’s play”.

Dr Tim Gill, global advocate for children's play and mobility and author of Urban Playground: How child-friendly planning and design can save cities, said: "Thanks to the pandemic, we all know what lockdown feels like. This groundbreaking study shows that British children have been subject to a gradual, creeping lockdown over at least a generation.

“The reasons are different, with social changes, safety fears, technology and traffic growth all arguably playing a part. However, the end result for all too many children is the same: boredom, isolation, inactivity, and poorer mental and physical health. The consequences for their development and well-being should not be underestimated."

Anita Grant, chair of Play England added: “Play outdoors is fundamentally important for children to develop a sense of self and a relationship with the world around them.

"Adults' protective instincts are not helpful when they restrict and control exploration, creativity and a child’s natural instinct to engage with their environment freely. Children need to learn how to risk assess and make good decisions. Play is the way that children grow and develop, building experiences and skills that will make them resilient and for this they need time, space and freedom.”

About Flowers Day Nursery in Swansea

We are based in a convenient location near to Swansea City centre and we have been in operation since 2004. We have our own off-road parking which makes your dropping off and picking up both easy and safe for you and your child.

Within our beautiful four-storey Grade II Listed building we offer wrap-around childcare from 07.30 - 18.00 from the ages of 3 months to 8 years, with before and after school drop off and pick up service when they attend a local school.

Our rooms are fresh and bright and our children’s work is displayed all around the nursery. Each room has a homely and welcoming feel and is regularly updated with age-appropriate play equipment. We have our own garden which is fully equipped with playhouses, slides and climbing frames as well as an area that is perfect for trikes and bikes with our water and sandpit play areas which the children love to be out in at every opportunity.

At the Flowers, we have created a welcoming and caring environment for both children and parents where your child will play, learn and feel loved. When you visit us you will see the relationships our teachers and carers have with the children which focuses on ensuring they are happy, content and settled throughout their time with us.

We have dedicated rooms for each age group and these all have structure and planned activities every day.

  • Baby Unit for ages 3 - 18 months

  • Buttercups Creative Room for ages 18 - 24 months

  • Daisy Room Playroom for ages 24 months to 3 years

  • Schoolroom Pre School for 3 - 4 years

Our on-site kitchen has a 5-Star Environmental Health Award and we prepare the children’s nutritious and varied meals and snacks on-site every day.

We understand the importance of the relationship we have with both children and their parents/carers and we commit to working with you to ensure your little one has a fun, engaging and interactive start to their early years.

Contact us today to ask any questions you may have and we can arrange a time for you to come and visit our nursery in Swansea.

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