Children from Boys & Girls Nursery Stanmore enjoyed a visit from local veterinary practise Medivet to teach them all about looking after cats.
The children were visited by Kavita and Nichola who spoke about the importance of their job, how they look after pets that come into their care and how you can look after cats at home. The children got to use some of the equipment they use in the practice including listening to heartbeats through a stethoscope and using a special brush to learn how to keep a cat’s fur nice and smooth.
The visit came about after the nurseries Pre-School Council decided that they would like to learn about looking after cats as one of their topics of the month. Every month at Boys & Girls Nursery a Pre-School Council is elected, and it is their job to decide what topics both they and their nursery friends would like to learn about. The Pre-School Council allows children to develop their social skills and take on some responsibility in preparation for school.
Natasha Kirby, Director, Boys & Girls Nursery said: “The vet’s visit was a huge hit with the children. They loved learning about looking after cats and using the equipment. Thank you to Kavita and Nichola for taking time out of their busy day to pass on their knowledge to our children”.
Members of the campaign group ‘Champagne Nurseries on Lemonade Funding’ (CNLF) have made a formal complaint to the Competition and Markets Authority (formerly known as the Monopolies and Mergers Commission) about the Government’s abuse of the childcare market.
The complaint outlines how the Government has abused its legislative powers by regulating the childcare market, stating that “[the] price fixing of both the purchase and sales price is an abuse of market control”.
In September 2017, the Government will roll out its 30-hour offer to eligible 3 and 4-year-old children of working parents in England. However, due to the shortfall between the true cost of providing the ‘free’ hours and the deficit in funding from the Government, many childcare providers believe they will be unable to deliver childcare in a sustainable manner and will be forced to close.
This effect is in direct opposition to the Government’s aim of providing more childcare for the estimated 400,000 families who will become eligible for the additional 15 hours in September.
The complaint by CNLF, which has almost 7,000 members, states that the childcare sector is already in jeopardy due to factors such as the introduction of workplace pensions, consistent increases in the National Minimum and Living Wages and Business Rates revaluations.
It goes on to state that the Government has “ploughed on with its political agenda based on non-representative data” in reference to a survey commissioned by the Department for Education to establish the true cost of childcare, which only received 284 responses.
CNLF’s action comes in the wake of a recent survey of councils in England by the Family and Childcare Trust which found that over half (54%) said they did not know if they would have enough childcare available for eligible pre-schoolers using the 30 hours.
A spokesperson for the CNLF campaign group, said:
“We looked at various ways to challenge the Government on the issue of underfunding in Early Years. This route is a direct way of getting the legislation around funding investigated.
“As private businesses, PVI’s (private, voluntary and independent childcare providers) have been absorbing and trying to manage the costs associated with delivering the ‘free’ Early Years Education since its introduction. The extension to 30 hours for working families brings with it the real threat of closure for some settings who simply can’t absorb or manage further losses.
“As providers, we fully support the Government helping families with childcare costs, however, the policies around funding mean that we have no choice but to cross-subsidise by charging inflated fees for hours outside of funded hours and charging for additional services for things that the Government say should not be provided within the funding.
“This is not something we want to do and not something we feel parents should be faced with. It is a consequence of a policy which the Government has not funded properly and which childcare providers cannot afford to subsidise but know that they run the risk of being forced out of the market if they do not offer the funded hours.
“Research showed that only 51% of nurseries in England were expecting to make a profit in 2016, with the average nursery losing an astonishing £957 per child, per year on the 15 hour offer.
“This level of loss on 15 hours of funding means that the increase to 30 hours is simply untenable for the whole sector at the current funding rates, the only way to ensure the ongoing viability of the whole sector is to remove the word free and allow the funding to be used as a subsidy.
“We are confident that the CMA will carry out a thorough investigation and we await their response.”
The “Growing Up in Ireland” study has found that, despite being responsible for almost a third of all infants in some form of childcare, 55% of childminders have no recognised qualification or training.
Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald, who launched the latest report, insisted that more people wanting to work with children were taking further education courses, ensuring improved quality.
“We are seeing improving qualifications in childcare centres,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
“More people now do Fetac (Further Education and Training Awards Council) training and we are going to make it obligatory that you have qualifications if you’re going to work in a childcare centre.” The study revealed that 22% of childminders hold this qualification.
Nearly 6% had a higher education qualification, almost 14% had completed some sort of related course, and 3.5% had been awarded a childcare qualification from outside Ireland.
The remaining 55% had no formal qualification at all.
The report pointed out that while childminders caring for three or fewer children are not required by Irish law to have a formal qualification and are exempt from regulation, promoting training and qualification among them would “advance the quality of care”.
The report also found that 40% of infants were in some form of childcare at nine months, with 42% of those being looked after by relatives, 31% by home-based childminders and 27% being cared for in a childcare centre.
Childminders who look after more than three children at once are required by law to notify the Health Service Executive.
“The importance of paid childminders for the care of infants in Ireland is not well recognised, as much literature on childcare focuses on centre-based care, and some debates on childcare do not recognise the significance of the role of childminders,” said the report, written by Dr Frances McGinnity, senior researcher at the Economic and Social Research Institute.
“Given the importance of quality of care for child development noted in the international literature, this raises the issue of childcare qualifications for childminders.”
Meanwhile, the vast majority of relatives who parents rely upon to look after their children had no formal childcare qualification.
Government sets out reform of early learning and children’s centres
A new, slimmed down early years curriculum for 0-5s, more focused on making sure children start school ready and able to learn, will be introduced next year under changes set out by Children’s Minister Sarah Teather.
Responding to the Tickell Review of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), the new framework radically reduces the number of early learning goals from 69 to 17. It also focuses on three prime areas of learning critical to making sure children have the foundations for school, and introduces a progress check for every 2 year old in early education so parents and professionals can be confident children are developing well.
As part of wider reforms to Sure Start children’s centres and early learning, the Government is looking at ways to get parents and communities more involved in running children’s centres. New plans to be consulted on will also make it easier for parents to plan and balance their working lives by making the free entitlement to 15 hours of early learning and childcare more flexible. (more…)
National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) has announced that initial research with its nursery members has revealed that the majority do not wish to see large-scale change with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). However, one of the key areas that nurseries have said needs addressing is the level of red-tape under the framework.
NDNA has conducted research with a focussed group of nurseries in England who represented a total of over 400 settings to gather initial feedback following the announcement of the review. This will be supported by national consultation events on 29 September in Leeds and 30 September in London so that members can attend to debate the review and feed into NDNA’s response on behalf of the sector. However, this initial research exercise has revealed a high level of support for the EYFS, with 83% saying that they felt that the EYFS supported children to get the best start. NDNA has already shared some of these initial findings with those leading the review prior to submitting a full response. (more…)
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