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.
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.
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 hasen’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.
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. (more…)
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