These last few months have forced a rethink on many levels. One thing is for sure the traditional ‘care’ element of our role has returned. We have taken great care to provide an environment that meets the needs of all children and staff, to ensure their safety and wellbeing. We have shifted the focus from Ofsted requirements and the EYFS Areas of Learning to care practices. Prioritising care has meant that we are protectors of health for our staff, families and communities who are heavily dependent on us. We are essential to the economic recovery and play an important part in children’s holistic development. The EYFS disapplications have allowed a focus on children being cared for in their setting, as we make ‘reasonable endeavours’ to meet the learning and development requirements. We have embraced care practices through transition, wellbeing, safeguarding, increasing self-help skills alongside increased cleaning and awareness. All of these have proved to be rich ‘educational opportunities’ and if we look a little deeper all fit into the Areas of Learning. Children have love being with other children once more, less resources has meant more imaginative play and parents dropping off has been so much easier. Our caring nature has recognised the educational benefits of these changes, therefore care and education are closely intertwined.
Care has, for some time been absent from role profiles, responsibilities, book titles, blogs etc. in an effort to raise our self-esteem as educators and teachers as we strive to portray a professional identity. This hasn’t had the desired effect though, we are still undervalued, underfunded and underpaid. We need to celebrate the importance of care, place a value on the care elements of our role and be proud of a professional identity that places care at the centre of what we do.
Staying healthy and safe inevitably leads to learning and developing. It’s because we care that we are worried about pressures from baseline and EYFS reforms. Caring is precisely why we stay in our jobs that are poorly paid and underfunded. That caring relationship is what makes parents ready to connect and children ready for school. We are caring role models for children, demonstrating care means that they grow up to care too, about themselves, about their environment and about each other and this time has proved that we need children to care more than ever. So, let’s celebrate care and give it the credibility that it deserves.