An increasing number of nurseries are signing up to a scheme to help them eliminate single-use plastics from their businesses.
The scheme, run by environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage, has been growing in popularity and already has 104 settings signed up to it. Participants are given 5 objectives which are designed to fit alongside the EYFS framework.
Tops Day Nursery in Havant was the first nursery to achieve ‘plastic-free’ status under the scheme.
A spokesperson from Surfers Against Sewage said: “We are delighted at the growing interest from nurseries making a commitment to eradicate single-use plastic from their settings. Through developing the programme to work alongside the EYFS framework, we are able to help nurseries across the country to introduce the issue of single-use plastic to nursery children and their families and encourage them to be a driving force for change.”
A nursery in Chester, Jigsaw Curzon House, has also achieved the coveted status.
Claire Taylor, owner and manager of Jigsaw Curzon House, said: “The decision to sign up this programme was taken on two levels. First, we believe that it is critical that we educate our children on the importance of caring for our environment and the steps we need to take in order to achieve this. We already had a number of internal initiatives under way and, thanks to one of our engaged parents who was aware of the work we had already undertaken, a recommendation led us to the programme.
“As a business with an ethical conscience, we want to ensure we are doing all we can to create a sustainable future for our children. Across our two nurseries we educate more than 250 young people a day and interact with around 500 parents weekly, which means our power to influence in a positive way is quite significant. This is a responsibility we have taken seriously and attempted to harness for a number of years.”
Ms Taylor added that the programme has been well received by everyone involved including children, staff and parents.
To achieve the plastic-free status across two settings in the group, Jigsaw Curzon House had to take part in several initiatives including:
- Swapping out plastic milk cartons for glass bottles. This had a ‘significant’ impact on the amount of single-use plastic, as the group orders 120 pints a week for both sites.
- Using washable aprons rather than single-use plastic ones.
- Replacing cling film with resealable containers.
- Not ordering single-use plastic materials for crafts, such as glitter.
- Giving out hessian bags to parents to encourage them to stop using plastic ones.
To find out more, visit: https://www.sas.org.uk/plastic-free-schools
The revised Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) has been given a tentative welcome by the early year’s sector. This, in part, is due to the introduction of Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development and Communication and Language.
The early years sector will have to adhere to this framework as it will be mandatory from September, the aim is that it will unify and instigate change amongst practitioners to improve current practice. Practitioners will be the ones interpreting and putting into practice the EYFS, it aims to be flexible and malleable whilst encompassing most, if not all areas. This is why the revisions and response from the early year’s sector has been so influential.
Author and early years consultant Penny comments that “...the other reason I am happy with the EYFS overall is there is a clear requirement for providers to plan for individual children and what they plan must be "challenging and enjoyable". That should put an end to activities that are not stimulating but boring or not age appropriate. I am delighted to see that...”
So why is the welcome tentative? In short, there are still a range of issues that the early year’s sector feels hasn’t been thrashed out, issues like clarity over wording and the legal requirement of some words and context. There is also an issue that despite attempting to reduce paper work the EYFS may in fact increase or maintain the already high level, this falls mainly down to report keeping and whether government will allow practitioners to keep records in their own way or rather that they will have to follow local authority or Ofsted guidelines.
There is also concern that the reduction in early learning goals (EGLS) may not have actually reduced the content, or are even a good idea in themselves. The early years sector also raised questions over the focus of learning, be it through books, or on science etc. Even down to the gender bias of the document – does it fairly reflect both a boys and a girls interests. There are even questions about geographical location bias, has the EYFS been written to accommodate both the urban and country based children.
Finally, the inclusion of a two year old check to spot children that may require additional support is viewed as extremely important by the early year’s sector, but again a call to clarify the guidelines for how the children should be assessed or how their development should be tracked. This could mean an additional pressure for ALL children to be achieving certain levels, whilst not taking into account each child’s individual needs, actual age or health. All of which gear up to the EYFS requirement of school readiness and a more formalised learning (which is disputed and supported through a number of statistics – without any definitive answer of whether formality of learning actually achieves results). This in turn may mean that the practitioner becomes driven by targets and could lose focus on the child as an individual. Are physical requirements such as walking or talking formalised? Or mainly based on a child’s individual development, could this be applied to things such as numeracy or literacy in the educational sense?
So this tentative welcome is, in summing up, welcomed as the early years sector want a clarified structure and guidelines which they can interpret and use to enable the best care for the child possible, and in theory the current EYFS seems to tick these boxes.
View our blog for more valuable information on the Childcare Sector.
Part 1: Finding the right balance
Running a successful nursery demands hard-work, flexibility and commitment. In an industry suppressed by funding restrictions, demanding parents and ever-changing policies and legislation, managing a nursery brings new challenges every day.
We spoke with Nursery World Awards ‘Nursery Manager of the Year’, Mikki Parkes, to produce a two-part series that reveals exactly what is required to become a successful nursery manager.
Mikki is the enthusiastic and passionate manager of Auden Place Community Nursery in Camden, described by parents as a manager who ‘is always prepared to go that extra mile to improve and develop the care for kids, parents and staff.’
Since taking over the nursery six years ago, Mikki has significantly influenced the growth of the business, revamping the setting, and expanding from 15 to 40 places. However, the aim always remains the same; to support all families from Camden by providing high quality childcare at affordable prices.