PACEY hosting a live Q&A session

PACEY hosting a live Q&A session

If you have a question about the childcare sector, the role of childcare professionals or what you'd like to see happening in the wider childcare policy agenda, you might be interested to join an online debate tomorrow at 9am.

#askPACEY is a new way for you to engage with the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years. Chief Executive, Liz Bayram, and President, Penny Tassoni, will be online between 9am and 11am to answer your questions.

The Q&A session is open to anyone including parents and childcare professionals (you don’t need to be a PACEY member to ask a question). The goal is to engage everyone interested in early years childcare and child development in a respectful and engaging Q&A session.

Liz Bayram, Chief Executive of PACEY, said:

‘We’re looking forward to hearing directly from parents and childcare professionals – whether members or non-members – to find out their key concerns around childcare in the year ahead.

We’re currently seeing rapid change within the sector, from the opposition’s proposals to extend free entitlement and the government’s doubling of early years bursaries – to the introduction of childminder agencies and a gradual shift towards the formalisation of early years settings.

We know that many families are struggling to secure high quality childcare and have important questions to ask over how to find the right kind of provider, as well as how to ensure that they’re children are receiving the best quality of care possible. I hope that in this session we can offer valuable guidance and advice that will help both families and childcare professionals across the country.

I’m excited that this session will be the first of many in which we can communicate the work we’re doing to drive quality of care within the sector whilst responding directly to concerns from families and childcare professionals.’

Penny Tassoni, President of PACEY, said:

‘I’m delighted to have the opportunity to work with parents and childcare professionals, and to offer my advice on how best they might support children's development.’ 

You can submit questions in advance in the following ways:

More information on the PACEY website

A 2-year-old has part of his ear “torn off and eaten” at Birmingham nursery

A 2-year-old has part of his ear “torn off and eaten” at Birmingham nursery

Two-year-old Daniyaal Abubaker was attending his second day at Mucky Pups Day Nursery in Garretts Green Lane, Birmingham, when he suffered a major injury to his right ear. Daniyaal needed 10 stitches and spent 2 nights in hospital to repair the damage, although it is not clear exactly how the incident happened.

The toddler’s mother, Afsha, 26, claims that she was given varying versions of the incident by nursery staff, including that he had been bitten by another child. Horribly, the missing part of the ear was not found and the family were told it may have been “eaten” by the other child.

Mrs Abubaker, said: “We still don’t know what happened to our son to this day, but to see your son in terrible pain with part of his ear missing was just horrific. I couldn’t stop crying. Daniyaal has been left traumatised. Sometimes when I move close to his face to kiss him he gets upset, he doesn’t like anyone to go close to his ear. He has been scarred mentally, not just physically.”

Mrs Abubaker said she received a call at around 11.30am on September 25th from the nursery owner, to say her son had injured his ear in a fall and that he “might require stitches”.

However, when her sister-in-law rang the nursery shortly afterwards, she was informed that Daniyaal had been punched.

Mrs Abubaker claims another sister-in-law, Arooj Arooj, picked injured Daniyaal up from the nursery, where the owner told her that he had been “bitten” by another child there.

‘‘When I spoke to the nursery again, and asked her what had happened to the piece of ear, they said the child must have swallowed it.’’

The family have contacted the police who are investigating the incident.


Ofsted inspection

Shortly after the alleged incident on September 25th, Ofsted inspectors visited the nursery and rated it ‘inadequate’.

They claimed risk assessments were not “rigorous enough” and stated the nursery did not “address all safety issues”.

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: ‘‘Specialist officers from West Midlands Police Public Protection Unit are reviewing an incident, in which a young child suffered an injury to his ear.

‘‘Officers are in the process of contacting the family and relevant agencies, including Children’s Social Care, as part of the on-going inquiry.’’

Ofsted inspectors visited the nursery on October 2nd and gave it an inadequate rating and flagged up health and safety issues as an area of concern.

The report states: “Risks assessments are not rigorous enough as they do not address all safety issues in the nursery and staff do not help children learn how to be safe during activities.”

With such inconsistency in how staff reported this issue, how would you have handled things differently?
Please share your thoughts below.

“Millions of parents facing a childcare crunch”, according to Ed Miliband.

“Millions of parents facing a childcare crunch”, according to Ed Miliband.

In a speech to the Labour Party Childcare Commission, Ed Miliband claimed that ‘Millions of parents are facing a childcare crunch.’

He stated that parents are facing a daily obstacle course as they seek to balance work and family life, whilst an average of three Sure Start centres were being closed every single week.

‘All at a time when the number of children under four in England has risen by 125,000’.

The party have calculated that there are 35,000 fewer places now than in 2010 and that costs have risen by 77 per cent since 2003 and 30 per cent since 2010.

Their research also shows that childcare costs account for 22 per cent of the earnings of a person on the average weekly wage today, compared with 18 per cent in 2010.

Around 576 Sure Start centres have closed but the government insists it is up to local councils to decide on their future - all they have done is remove the ring fence from the central grant that funds them.

"The money is there to maintain the Sure Start centre network," Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme.

He said the government was launching a scheme aimed at the "20% lowest income families", which would offer 15 hours of pre-school support for two-year-olds in England.

Labour's proposal is to extend free childcare for three and four-year-olds, to 25 hours per week for working parents, which will be funded by more taxes on bank profits.

Anand Shukla, chief executive of the Family and Childcare Trust, said: ‘Today, a nursery place costs 77 per cent more than in 2003, yet wages have stayed still in real terms.’

A Department for Education spokesman said there are more than 3,000 Sure Start centres across the country, and a record 1 million parents are using them.

DFE remove latest survey on childcare ratios

DFE remove latest survey on childcare ratios

Media coverage over the weekend implied that the government were quietly attempting to re-introduce the debate on childcare ratios, with an online survey for parents promoted on social media channels.

The survey, entitled "Ratios in nurseries and other childcare settings", was promoted by the Department for Education and asks 10 questions of parents who have a three- or four-year-old at nursery. Every question related to either staffing levels or teaching qualifications.

Since the media questioned it’s relevance and motives, however, the poll has been removed from the survey website, creating even more questions.

The survey asked "Do you know how many members of staff there should be for the number of children in your child's nursery? If yes, what is the ratio? If no, what do you think it should be?"

It added multiple choice questions including "Do you look to the nursery's Ofsted report? Which aspects in particular concern you?" and offers six possible answers including "safety" "what the children learn" and "the ratio of staff to children".

Given the fierce resistance to the proposals in the summer, it seems the Government may be trying to avoid another confrontation with the Childcare Industry by removing the survey.

In June, the Conservative children's minister, Liz Truss, was forced to drop the plans by Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister.

'An extensive consultation had shown that her two key aims would fail", Clegg said. "Cutting staff-to-child ratios would not necessarily drive down the costs of childcare – and might even increase them – and would not necessarily improve standards."

A senior Liberal Democrat source said: "There is no prospect of the coalition government revisiting the issue of childcare ratios. Nick Clegg made very clear they cannot proceed. The issue has been put to bed and will not get up."

The DfE has also been criticised for limiting the reach of the survey by using social media sites Facebook and Twitter to receive responses instead of publishing it on the department's own website.

The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (Pacey) has also criticised the survey and questioned the usefulness of any information gained from feedback. Liz Bayram, chief executive of Pacey, said: "Pacey is concerned to hear that the Department for Education is consulting parents on childcare ratios, given that there was widespread criticism of the department the last time it proposed this reform.

"We also question how this crude approach to gaining parent feedback is going to provide the DfE with any meaningful information."

A DfE source said that the survey was part of a fact-finding exercise which hoped to be able to examine the attitude of private nursery users – but the source struggled to explain why the survey does not ask parents to say whether their children are cared for in private or public nurseries. A spokeswoman said: "In 2008 ratios were relaxed so nurseries could have classes of up to 13 children aged three or over when led by a teacher. School nurseries take advantage of this flexibility, whereas private nurseries are less likely to do so.

"We have always said we want this flexibility to be used more widely – because evidence shows that teacher-led provision improves outcomes for children – and it is important that we explore what barriers are preventing nurseries from doing this."

We'd love to hear your comments below.

Nearly half of 5 year olds are not achieving expected standards at school

Nearly half of 5 year olds are not achieving expected standards at school

Recent press stories have made much of the low numbers of 5 year-olds starting school at the expected standards in maths and literacy, with the implication that the EYFS, or those delivering it, are at fault.

The report shows that nearly half (48%) of children failed to achieve a "good" level of development, which is considered to be at least the expected level within the three prime areas as well as the expected standards in literacy and mathematics.

The figures make interesting reading, with 61% achieving the expected level in literacy and 66% in maths, according to data published by the Department for Education (DfE).

Other areas achieve better results with 89% at the expected level in physical development and 87% in expressive arts and design.

The figures are based on the new EYFS measures introduced just over a year ago, and are taken from the first assessments conducted this summer. The previous Early Years Foundation Stage, with its 69 measures, was criticised as being too bureaucratic.

There was a substantial disparity between the achievement levels of girls and boys.

"Girls outperformed boys in all areas of learning," says the DfE's summary of the findings, with 60% of girls achieving a good level of development, compared with 44% of boys.

In literacy, 69% of girls achieved at least the expected level, compared with 53% of boys.


The gap is closer in maths, with 70% of girls at the expected level, against 63% of boys.

A DfE spokeswoman said the new streamlined profile for the foundation stage "places a stronger emphasis on the areas which are most essential for a child's development and a greater focus on the key skills children need for a good start in life".

‘Our reforms are also focusing on improving the quality of professionals working in the early years, by introducing early years teachers and early years educators into nurseries who will specialise in early childhood development.

‘Ofsted is introducing a tougher early years inspection framework to improve outcomes, and put a stronger emphasis on the areas which are most essential for a child's development, such as strong communications and a good vocabulary’, she added.

Liz Bayram, chief executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), said, ‘PACEY recognises that the Early Years Foundation Stage framework has had a positive impact on raising standards within the early years. As this is the first use of the revised EYFS, it gives us a starting point, rather than telling us a direction of travel.

‘These figures paint a really positive story of how children are building social skills. However, there are areas of concern highlighted by these figures, particularly that only 52 per cent of children have achieved a good level of overall development, and there is an attainment gap between boys and girls. We need to do more to support childcare professionals, who are central in helping children to be both school-ready, and life-ready too. Low status, low pay and declining funding and support threatens the attempts by childminders, nannies and nursery workers to improve their professional status and their ability to deliver a high quality care.

‘PACEY is supportive of Ofsted and the EYFS in its role to provide children the best quality standard of care for children, but we need greater efforts from Government to support childcare professionals, who play a vital role in this process.’

Anne Longfield, chief executive of 4Children, added, ‘These figures reaffirm the challenge that is faced to make sure that every child in the Early Years Foundation Stage gets the best possible start and makes the progress that they are entitled to make.

‘As the figures show, nearly half of all children are not reaching a good standard of early learning goals. Of particular concern is that boys are doing less well than girls and children from poorer families and in more deprived areas are underachieving in comparison with those from more affluent areas.

‘We know that quality provision is the key to improving children’s outcomes hence it is imperative that the most is made of the new two year old offer and the focus on early intervention to ensure all children leave the EYFS with at least the expected level of development.’

One year in, how do you feel the new EYFS measures up? Are children better prepared for school at 5 years old? We’d welcome your comments below.

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