Call for a National Day of Action


The chief executive of the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF), June O’Sullivan, has proposed a National Day of Action on June 1st to “take over the early years debate”.

She is calling for the sector to “start working together across the UK to make our voices heard: to explain what we do, what quality means and why early years is not a political football but a serious matter – one led by serious people with a serious message.”

She lists the following 7 compelling challenges faced by providers in the UK that need to be explained to the public.

1: The Government wants more people in work (women in particular), only the Minister now says we are not fit for purpose – so how is this going to happen without the quality childcare these would-be-working mums require?

2: The Secretary of State for Education has addressed poor schools through a programme of Academies which are based on the premise of high quality, yet allow Academy Heads to employ unqualified teachers. Our Minister says we do not provide quality because we employ unqualified staff…

3: There is much confusion about how much is spent on Childcare. Figures range from £7 billion to £4.5 billion. The truth is no one knows, not even our mathematically minded Minister. However, £8 billion was misused in the Academies budget, which could be the very investment we need to ensure Early Years becomes a realistic option. Why is it apparently OK to waste this?

4: The Deputy Prime Minister is keen to use Early Education in good quality nurseries as a key policy driver for social mobility. He wants this to be rolled out through a programme for two-year-olds from disadvantaged areas. The Minister says that only nurseries judged good or outstanding by Ofsted can accept these children. In the meantime, Ofsted is now downgrading nurseries in poor areas – not because of poor education and care but for lack of processes which may not impact on the children. Where then will these children go?

5: Over the last ten years the sector has grown in size and confidence. The introduction of the EYFS went some way to helping agree a framework for improvement. In many cases this was achieved with the support of local authority advisory teams as critical friends. The Minister is keen to dismantle all the support services and just use Ofsted as the improvement agency. Sir Michael Wilshaw says Ofsted will not be an improvement agency, but an agency of improvement.

6: Starting First, EPPE and the OECD all agree that qualifications are only part of the determinants of quality: ratios also matter. Our Minister is keen to reduce ratios on some spurious mathematical formula indicating they raise the cost of childcare to parents.

7: Our Minister wants to change the process of registering childminders. She favours and is pursuing the Dutch model of Childminding Agencies. The Dutch have abandoned this model as too expensive and cumbersome. There is no appetite here either

June stated “It’s time we cut off a little oxygen to our Minister and held the stage ourselves. We must be calm, grown-up and informed.”

You can read her Blog here, or join the ‘Reclaim Early Years‘ group on Linked In.

Do you support the plan for a Day of Action?  


5 thoughts on “Call for a National Day of Action

  • May 9, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Every professional in this sector is saying the same thing as far as I can see. Making a greater ratio is dangerous, and the removal of early years support will be a disaster.
    Ofsted do not local structure and are not able to support providers with anything but the general rules so how will this work?
    Ofsted will only visit to complete an insection once ever 3-4 years so how will they monitor the needs in each area?
    I know of many childminders who have said they will not be joining agencies. They do not understand how these are going to work and what the requirements will be. Most of them have said that it is just another hoop to jump through and that they will give up if this happens. This means rather than making more places for children, quality childcare will be dimmished.
    Other childminders who are willing to take extra children are often the ones who want the money rather than the providers that want to offer the best care.

  • May 8, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    As an ex-nursery teacher and originally a ‘playgroup auntie’, I have seen children change into far more dependent individuals, needing one to one attention not just with physical needs (toileting, nose wiping, putting on coats etc, cuddles) but also tim ewith an adult to help them play, talk and think. I indeed did not have enough arms although I have a degree and never understood the reasoning behind that. Why have more EY professionals and theorists not stood up and denounced the thinking the government is displaying? Why is it necessary that both parents are encouraged to be in work when young school leavers and recent graduates are without jobs?
    What form is a ‘day of action’ going to take?

  • May 8, 2013 at 10:33 am

    The Education Minister’s ‘solution’ to affordable, high quality childcare is based on misinformation and assumption. As an E.Y.P. and an experienced nursery manager with 23 years experience, I know, without any doubt, that 1 person with a degree level qualification is no substitute for two qualified and experienced nursery nurses. No matter how qualified a person is, they are still just ‘a person’, singular. All children, especially those in daycare who will be missing out on one to one time with their parents, need individual time and attention from their carers. Strong attachments are the corner stone of emotional development which impacts directly on brain development, confidence, self-esteem, attitude to learning and general sense of well being. Having a degree does not give someone the magical ability to grow two extra arms; increase the number of hours in the day; be able to be in two places at once; have the ability to change a nappy whilst simultaneously writing the planning for the following weeks activities; etc. Alongside the planning, observations, two year old assessments, TAC meetings, Staff training, accident reports, etc, etc, there is also nappy changing, feeding, hand washing, nose wiping, cuddles, cleaning, jumping, hopping, dancing, singing, story telling, etc, etc. I think there is value in key personnel, such as the nursery manager or deputy having EYPS or QTS, it underpins their knowledge and understanding of child development theory which will then inform the way they lead and manage their teams.

  • May 7, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Our Poll currently stands at 85% supporting the idea of a National Day of Action.

    Add your vote on the right of this post.

  • May 7, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    I agree that the many proposals put forward by our Minister will have a detrimental affect on childcare providers and the children that they support. An increase in ratio’s goes against all recent research pertaining to the importance of intensive interventions in the Early Years, and a multitude of issues will be affected by this, including safeguarding, early identification and interventions of children with SEN, mental health and confidence of children, ability for children in the early years to form strong attachements with significant adults, and therefore having a detrimental effect on their social mobility and ability to achieve in later life.


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