Where do we go from here?
The Government invested heavily in the early years some year ago, with the aim to develop and improve provision as part of the modern welfare state. This led to an increase in the number of early learning and childcare places available, the provision of an entitlement to funded early learning for all three- and four-year-olds and subsequently to two-year-old funded places. Some children benefit from 30 hours funding and Early Years Pupil Premium to support working parents and to close the gap for disadvantaged children. The gap in funding received via the Local Authority and the cost of providing high quality childcare, has meant that many providers have had to reduce their costs or have sadly had to close.
Over a period of time Local Authority support has diminished and continued professional development is no longer free or subsidised. Funding and overheads are an increasing issue yet providers still have to deliver the statutory requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework. They continue to focus on ensuring every child benefits from a high quality experience in their early learning and care and with Ofsted as the only ‘arbiter of quality’, many providers have turned to social media to answer their burning questions. Whilst this has many benefits, it is also a concern when questions are being asked about staff, parents and children in a public space.
Children who need additional help are identified and supported and providers continue to ensure all children are safe through the safeguarding and welfare requirements. However, cuts in support from the LA has meant that those who are constantly aiming to raise standards and improve quality are finding themselves with so many other ‘hats’ to wear. All too often it’s hard to find the time, inspiration or specific expertise to maintain and develop a high quality learning environment.
Investing in an Independent Early Years Consultant may seem like an additional cost that you could do without, but can you really afford not to have that ‘critical friend’ to support you? Consultants keep themselves updated, reading new documentation from Ofsted, research and articles from many other sources so that you can focus on leading and managing your settings. We bring this information to you in our consultancy, training, social media and regular emails. We create a two-way relationship that builds a ‘culture of collaboration’, we reflect together to evaluate where you are and determine how to move forward and when you are working alone this is really important. We also signpost confidently if you need support outside of our remit, this means you don’t spend ages finding a solution!
We certainly hope that through the Government’s spending review that funding increases, in many LA’s a programme of social mobility has seen the DfE is invest to improve children’s outcomes through the home, early years settings and local services. Look out for free training, resources, and events. https://foundationyears.org.uk/2019/06/government-action-to-boost-social-mobility-in-the-early-years/
It is very important to keep yourself updated – sign up to newsletters and follow a wide range of Early Years Consultants on Social Media.
Whilst it is really easy to ask questions via Facebook pages, please remember your professional integrity and rules around confidentiality – create a network of trusted providers in your locality, a safe space to share your thoughts.
Lastly, it is so important to look after yourself! Eat well , sleep well. Set aside some ‘you’ time, try not to work weekends! Plan your working week to include time outside getting back to nature! Use SMART targets for your ‘to do’ list, having an action plan will help. Reconnect and spend time with those families and children that you work so hard to support, time reading a story, investigating or sharing the learning with a parent will be just the boost that you need.