Tag Archives: BBC

Proposed Changes for UK Childcare – For Better or Worse?

This week a BBC article Ministers’ Plan Childcare Change   outlined the UK governments proposals for reducing the cost of childcare.

Alongside making some provision tax deductible, other proposals include

  • increasing the number of children a childminder can care for.
  •  improving their qualification level in a bid to maintain quality.

It seems however, that there are a number of flaws in their thinking.

‘Ms Truss has pushed for reform to regulations imposed on child minders to
increase the number of child minding places. If more places can be provided for
parents, then the Conservatives believe prices might start to come down.’

Yet in a later paragraph:

‘Downing Street sources said Liberal Democrat and Conservative figures alike were
now convinced that looser ratios mean nurseries can take more children on which
could see staff paid more, and so greater quality staff attracted.’

I’m not sure that increased wages for early years workers and a lower cost to parents can be achieved without a significant investment of government funds.

It seems to me that the government believe that by increasing the number of children childminders can care for, they will attract more people to the profession, as they will be able to earn more.  However they are also proposing changes to the qualifications needed to become a childminder in a bid to maintain quality.

In my experience of working with childminders, this is what I think will happen. A proportion of very good childminders will be scared off by the thought of having to achieve yet another qualification, losing many of our oldest and most experienced childminders. Those that stay may take on extra children but once they are better qualified and have factored in the added expense of having more children (e.g. equipment, larger car) and the additional challenges of caring for a large number of children under 5, they are likely to quite rightly increase rather than decrease their hourly rate. Some childminders will decide that their quality depends on taking fewer children, therefore not achieving the desired increase in childcare places.  Some will be attracted to the industry I’m sure but how attractive really is looking after 5 children under the age of 5 on your own?

In my opinion these proposals reduce parental choice.  I like many women chose to send my children, in their first years, to a childminder.  I chose this for my children because I felt a home environment where my children could experience many of the things they did with mummy, would be the easiest transition.  I also chose a childminder because they could play with a few other children but have the individual, loving attention they needed from one adult.  My children love their childminder in the way they would an aunt or a close friend of the family. I’m worried that this would be lost once the number of children is raised significantly above the size of the average family.

My mother was a childminder when I was growing up. The children she cared for (never more than 2 at a time) became an extension to our family, they called her ‘aunty’.  Childminders these days take on far more children in a bid to fulfil demand for places and to earn a decent wage, if the ratio is increased again will there be any  ‘aunties’ left? Please UK government don’t take away parental choice.

These are my thoughts, what are yours?

Sign the petition to avoid changes to childcare ratios.

Love to Learn on CBeebies

I don’t generally recommend young children learn by watching television but I am human and like the rest of us appreciate a bit of respite from time to time.  Now that my 3 year old no longer naps during the day, after a busy  morning at playgroup an hour watching television helps her to relax.  I don’t agree with young children watching commercial channels so always put my trust in CBeebies.

The quality of the early learning programming is generally of a high standard and well researched, we particularly like Something Special and Driver Dan’s Storytrain (especially as we are on the lookout for the episodes featuring her big sister).

At the end of February CBeebies are launching a new cluster of programming entitled  Love to Learn. This will bring together a number of programmes, which are designed to give the younger members of the CBeebies audience an introduction to literacy and numeracy. Programmes will include the new shows, Numtums and The Lingo Show, alongside new episodes of established favourites Alphablocks and Abadas. These programmes will be scheduled together allowing children to have fun while they learn their letters and get to know their numbers.
The Numtums  are cuddly Numbats (rare marsupial, native to Western Australia) each with a number on their tummy. Combining a troop of animated Numtums, children, sing-along songs and a distinctive, mixed-media style, the programme introduces the basics of number recognition and then gently moves on to counting objects and identifying amounts in a variety of fun scenarios. The series is reminiscent of the animated snippets that were a key feature of my favourite children’s programme, Sesame Street. I’m sure these will keep the children engaged and make learning fun.
I’m really looking forward to The Lingo Show .  This began life a year ago as an online brand to introduce children to a variety of languages.  It is a long time since I visited the CBeebies website, so I wasn’t aware it existed but I was very excited to see that the languages featured include Welsh. Growing up in Wales I have a very basic knowledge  of the Welsh language, but my children were captivated.  My 7 year old even wrote down a list of words to remember ( we looked at the food section). The variety of languages featured include Polish, Somali and Punjabi and this could be a really useful resource for nursery workers to learn basic vocabulary when teaching children with an additional language. The TV series will continue to introduce children to words in different languages – specifically French, Spanish and Mandarin .
The episodes see host bug Lingo send Mandarin bug Wei, Spanish bug Queso and French bug Jargonaise off into the real world to choose everyday objects and props to include in their grand finale – The Big Bug Show. Each episode focuses on one language, introducing children to six key words, plus examples of everyday vocabulary like ‘hello’, ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’. There are opportunities for children to develop both speaking and listening skills as they are encouraged to repeat words with the bugs, voiced by native speakers of the target language.  I’m  definitely    going to make time to  watch  this with the kids.

The new episodes of Alphablocks are in a slighter longer  format than in the past and will continue to use best-practice phonics teaching to help young children develop engagement and confidence with reading and making words.  For those unfamiliar with the series  Alphablocks are 26 living letters who fall out of the sky and discover that if they hold hands and make a word, it comes to life.

Abadas  aims  to help children to learn new vocabulary that corresponds to objects they come across in their everyday lives.
The new episodes feature the familiar fun faces of Hari the hippo, Ela the fox and Seren the bat (all with Welsh accents) who come to life when a pop-up book is opened. Once the book is opened, the Abadas’ world comes alive and it’s playtime for the three adventurers. Through these adventures the Abadas encourage the young audience to re-tell a story and be able to ask questions and tell others what they have learned.
The season of programming will also include repeats of the popular numbers series Numberjacks.

I hope that by scheduling these programmes together, children will become naturally inquisitive  about letters and numbers. The 5 minute programmes are perfect for young children’s attention spans and this short concentrated burst of literacy and numeracy programmes could serve as a great introduction to other hands on activities. Pre-school children do not need to learn to read, write and count but the programmes could introduce the concepts without any pressure. Take the lead from your child, if they are showing an interest you can develop it further.  The Grown Ups section of the CBeebies website has excellent articles about how to support your child’s early learning including phonics , numeracy, story telling and mark making and includes many additional activities. Over the next few weeks I will also be sharing literacy and numeracy ideas here. If there are any particular areas you would like inspiration for add a comment and I will follow it up.

The Love to Learn programmes will be on air from 27th February every weekday on CBeebies. The scheduling is 09:00 Numtums

09:05 Numberjacks

09:20 Alphablocks

09:25 Abadas .

The Lingo Show will air sometime during March.

The timings are perfectly placed just after the school run , before we go out and explore  numeracy and literacy in everyday situations.