Comparative critical analysis of the key quality dimensions within early years provision in a country of students choice and the UK. Childhood studies (2004:3) John Clarke states, “the history of childhood has become a particularly influential area of study in recent years. The book examines Philippe Aries’s claims that childhood didn’t exist before the seventeenth century”. Philippe Aries (1962) suggests that, ‘He was one of the first to suggest that childhood is a modern discovery.
He argued that in medieval times children, once past infancy, were regarded as miniature adults; they dressed like adults and shared adult’s work and leisure. Children were not assumed to have needs distinct from those of adults, nor were they shielded from any aspects of adult life’. Research has shown that first five years of a child’s life are important to their development, as the brain is starting to form.
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An article called “Understanding brain development in young children” (2005) states, ‘Learning continues throughout life. However, “prime times” or “windows of opportunity” exist when the brain is a kind of “supersponge,” absorbing new information more easily than at other times and developing in major leaps. While this is true especially in the first three years of life, it continues throughout early childhood and adolescence.
For example, young children learn the grammar and meaning of their native language with only simple exposure’. This is known to be true, as children who are not being stimulated and challenged may not develop and reach their full potential. Children may become withdrawn and need extra support in the future if they are not receiving the proper care and attention needed to thrive. ‘There are a number of factors which influence early brain development; these include food, water, genetics, responsive adults, physical experiences.
Giving children a variety of experiences and positive feedback also helps to develop the brain and skills needed for the future’. One of the first known Early Years pioneers who made a difference to children was Fredrick Frobel he was the founder of kindergartens; this is known to be true according to (Frobel Educational Institute) the article states, ‘He devised a set of principles and practices which would form part of an interactive educational process to take place in institutions which in 1840 he named ‘kindergarten’.
Margaret Mc Millen was also an Early Years Pioneer and her sister Rachael Mc Millen where thought to be the founded of nursery schools. (Spartacus educational) suggests, ‘The nursery school was founded in England by Rachel McMillan in 1911’. (Spartacus Educational) also suggests, ‘The two sisters worked together they both believed in Christian socialism. It was Rachel who converted Margaret to socialism and together they attended political meetings where they met William Morris, H.
M. Hyndman, Peter Kropotkin, William Stead and Ben Tillet. They also began contributing to the magazine Christian Socialist and gave free evening lessons to working class girls in London. Margaret later wrote: “I taught them singing; or rather I talked to them while they jeered at me. ” It was at this time that the two sisters became aware of the connection between the workers’ physical environment and their intellectual development.
Margaret and Rachel’s work in Bradford convinced them that they should concentrate on trying to improve the physical and intellectual welfare of the slum child. In 1892 Margaret joined Dr. James Kerr, Bradford’s school medical officer, to carry out the first medical inspection of elementary school children in Britain. Kerr and McMillan published a report on the medical problems that they found and began a campaign to improve the health of children by arguing that local authorities should install bathrooms, improve ventilation and supply free school meals.
McMillan (1860) was known to have published a book in 1911 which she criticised schools in working class areas to ensure children were being offered a broad and humane education. This book was known as The Child and the State. It could be said by many early years professionals and practitioners today that Early Years Educators like Fredrick Frobel (1782-1852) and Margaret Mc Millen (1860-1931) through their work for and with children, have paved the way for the ways in which children are being educated and cared for today.
Early year’s provisions today has evolved from the days of our early years pioneers and their efforts have impacted and made it even more so important to safeguard and ensure children are being supported building their confidence and helping them reach their full potential, the range of early year’s provision in the United Kingdom has become very diverse, this is due to children and their families having a range of diverse needs around children with English as an additional language, health, social issues, poverty and learning difficulties for children and their parents.
Preschools and nursery settings in England Work from the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework EYFS (2008) and the updated version (2012), each early years setting will have their own sets of policies, procedures, principles and ethos which are underpinned from both of these frameworks, and these framework are also underpinned by the Every Child Matters Framework ECM (2004), United Nations Rights of the Child UNCRC (1992) and the Children’s Act (1989).
Together these ensure legislation which ensures policies and procedures which safeguard children and ensure children are receiving quality opportunities to play, learn and develop in an environment which they feel safe, supported, and secure, included and valued which in turn promotes children who are confident resulting in active learning. It has been argued that EYFS (2008), is “founded on assumptions and misunderstandings and is unworkable and the “unique child” principle is undermined by the expectation that children should have acquired their (early learning goals) by the end of the academic year in which they turn five.
” (p11, para 2. 3 of the EYFS Statuary Framework 2008) We now across England work from the updated version of the EYFS (2012) framework, which has only slightly changed it has the same principles, just a few components are now mandatory, for example things like staff supervision and the key person are now a must. There are now also seven areas of learning and development that must shape educational programmes in early years setting. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected.
Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. These three areas, the prime areas, are Communication and Language, Personal, Social and Emotional Development and Physical Development. Providers must also support children in four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied.
The specific areas are: Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design. The EYFS (2008) framework consisted of four themes with principles and commitments which underpin effective practice for practitioners to meet children’s needs through a play based (continuous provision) curriculum with individual planning and assessment for learning outcomes, which had a very similar to the Whariki Approach used in New Zealand. The Te Whariki Approach is the early year’s curriculum for New Zealand.
It was produced by the Ministry of Education and was founded on that children “grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society. ” There are four broad principles interwoven with five strands, which have goals associated with it, similar to the principles, themes and commitments used in the EYFS. The goals for the Te Whariki are quite specific and develop theories about Planet Earth and beyond.
Play is not mentioned much in the curriculum but play is valued as “meaningful learning” and is among the goals for learning and development. The Te Whariki goals are achieved through familiar materials rather than going from one grade to another. The Te Whariki Approach uses similar principles, framework and approaches to the EYFS (2008) framework for example working in partnership with parents and empowering children to be confident and resilient ensuring their safety and emotional well being. Both frameworks show aspects of the work, principles and ethos of the theorist Fredrick Frobel.
Research has also shown in other countries like Norway and Sweden. Children do not start school until the age of seven in Sweden, until recent times when it has now been lowered to age six in Norway; these countries have longer preschool traditions and start the school curriculum later. The curriculum’s purpose for Sweden is to provide educational opportunities based on care learning and education. The curriculum believes children’s activities should stimulate play, creativity and a joyful experience promoting children’s interest in new experiences.
This curriculum shows aspects similar to the EYFS and Frobel’s theories on childhood incorporated within the framework. Sweden’s early education is also financed by the state. Whereas it is age five for English children, this came about in the by the falling birth rate in the 1960’s and school places where many. Four years olds where encouraged into full time primary education the local authorities thought this was better value than then providing nursery education with specialist facilities and high adult-child ratio’s.
In England at present the age for children to start school at the national curriculum level is five years. The government in England have not always give families opportunities to access preschool provision through lack of state funding for the ages 0-3 and parents have had to pay out of their own pocket. This affected parent’s on low incomes and the unemployed and children were unable to attend early year’s settings. The government then now funded early year’s services such as Childcare Tax Credits and the National childcare Strategy to reduce the cost for low income families.
Research has shown that in 2001 one and half million families where helped by this scheme. Further projects like Sure Start have been put in place to help children attend early years setting earlier, for example funding the 2 year pilot giving disadvantaged children a place to engage and thrive with other children aiding development and learning, also funding for 3-4 year olds to get them into preschool education earlier to give children opportunities play and learn. ‘The availability of good quality, affordable childcare is key to achieving some Government objectives.
Childcare can improve educational outcomes for children. Childcare enables parents, particularly mothers, to go out to work, or increase their hours, thereby lifting their families out of poverty. It also plays a key role in extending choices for women by enhancing their ability to compete in the labour market on more equal terms….. Childcare can also play an important role in meeting other top level objectives, for example improving health, boosting productivity, improving public services, closing the gender pay gap and reducing crime.
The targets to achieve 70per cent employment among lone parents by 2010 and to eradicate child poverty by 2020 are those that are most obviously related. Childcare is essential for those objectives to be met’. (Cabinet Office Strategies Unit, 2005:5; emphasis added). This was shown in; The Provision of Pre School Education (EPPE) the project showed childcare of poor quality was associated with poorer developmental outcomes, although high quality setting where associated with positive outcomes in all areas of development.
Research tells us children aged two to six that attend good quality childcare setting and receive quality care and education will do them no harm and will have a positive impact on their early years especially children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds or have learning needs. It could be argued that children are now under pressure in early years for school readiness through assessments they are expected to reach learning outcomes and follow a school curriculum.
Research has shown theorists such as jean Piaget, Maria Montessori and Lev Vygotsky moved forward the constructivist perspective of readiness and development, although their work varies they all believed that children learned and developed through the environment and the people around them. Research has shown that constructivists believed children where participants in their own learning and often indicated the activities needed for their own development.
When young children showed difficulties in learning the constructivist approach does not label children, but will give individual attention and alter the curriculum to suit the children’s needs. Although there is debate on this subject research into one childcare setting has shown that some practitioners and parents feel some young children are not ready to go from a play processed learning curriculum to a work based product learning curriculum.
‘To give time for play in school is not to give a ‘break’ or rest from learning; it is not a concession to immature minds. Rather it is a way of making teaching and learning more productive…We do not know the knowledge is, and the skills are, that the children of today will most need in the future. Flexibility, confidence and the ability to think for oneself – these are the attributes one hopes will not let them down. If play is conducive to the development of these, we had better have it the school. ’ (Guha. 1998, pp. 78-9)
Play over the years has been slowly pushed out of school life and children as young 4 years are now found in reception classes which are for children of compulsory school age. The under valuing of play has been noticed by Elkind he argued that, ‘It is not play that is being opposed, but rather play in infancy and early years childhood. In contemporary society, play is often seen as something you can do and enjoy only as an adult, not a child…. In Japan, where many children are pressured academically even during the early years, the college students take four years off to play.
(Elkind, 1990, p. 16) Play is a fundamental part of Early Years and research into different theories has shown that play helps children develop in all areas of learning. It gives children opportunities to explore themselves and other people learning about risk and the world around them indoors and out, helping them practice skills and learn social interaction with their peers regardless of ability. It has been debated by many theorist’s that play is essential for emotional, physical and intellectual development.
Play within early years allows children of all different backgrounds and race to engage in an enabling and fun environment where they can be themselves and learn through well planned experiences based on spontaneous play promoting children who are self-confident and resilient. Frobel believed that ‘through different types of play children could experiment with resources and materials, develop an understanding of how things work, use their imagination, be creative and act out experiences’. Play is recognized in the CRC as a child’s right.
Staff should be aware of when to interact in children’s play, giving children time and relevant resources to enhance their play and learning. This is why it is important for staff to update their skills and professional development giving children quality practitioners who can respond and enhance their care and learning experiences. Research has shown Preschool staff in countries like Sweden and Norway are well educated with 60% of staff in Sweden having university degrees; preschool staffs in Norway have 30% of their staff with tertiary degrees. The remaining staffs are often teaching assistants.
There has been debate in England around the quality of students and practitioners in childcare. Training students is important as they are the up and coming practitioners of the future. There has also been debate around whether practitioners need more academic training, as practitioners are now not just carers they are expected to promote learning within a caring and safe environment where children can be educated. An article in nursery world has linked the EYPS with improvements within early year’s settings particularly in the preschool showing improvements in communication, language and literacy.
It was showed that there was little evidence to support the provision for babies under 30 months. The article reported ‘While 91 per cent of the 35 EYPs in the survey spent time working in the pre-school rooms, only 44 per cent spent time supporting practice in the infant and toddler rooms. On average EYPs spent 18. 4 hours a week in pre-school rooms but only 4. 7 hours with babies and toddlers’. Principal investigator Sandra Mathers from the Department for Education at Oxford University, said, ‘We found clear evidence that EYPs were effective in leading quality improvement for pre-school children.
Settings which gained an EYP made significant improvements related most strongly to direct work with children and the quality of support for learning, reflecting the role of EYPs as “leaders of practice’. ’ In this article there was evidence that the interaction between staff and the children was more in depth and showed quality, children’s understanding in problem solving, reasoning and understanding of the world was higher in settings with a qualified EYP. However it was said that more research was needed to consider how graduate leaders can lead practice and impact across the birth to five range and not just preschool FDL 3003
Part B A portfolio of tasks including a self evaluation Performa completed by the student with three examples of annotated supporting evidence and a action plan identifying steps for further quality improvements based on self evaluation. Introduction In this assignment there is some background and examples of actions that have been addressed within a self evaluation form, from an anonymous setting to ensure there is quality staff and resources enabling children’s learning and development in an environment which supports children and their families.
Quality is the key to securing improved outcomes for children and giving them a better start in the early years. It is important that all early years settings and providers work in partnership with the local authority, parents and the setting’s community to consider how best to create, maintain and improve continuously their offer to secure better experiences for all young children and their families. The primary purpose of the quality improvement cycle is to ensure that all settings consider how best to create, maintain and improve their provision in order to offer the highest quality experiences for all young children.
It is by doing so on a continuous basis that they can secure the best possible outcomes for all young children as set out in the Every Child Matters agenda and the principles of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). There are many factors which contribute to high quality early years provision. This is a complex area but certain elements have been identified as having the greatest impact on the quality of provision.
The diagram above referenced by research sources summarises the important features of high quality provision organised around the three key factors of: workforce, practice and environment, With the child at the centre, these factors interact and enable the children’s enjoyment, well-being, learning, development and better long-term outcomes. Over recent years there have been barriers for children and their families, but there has been a huge growth in the provision of family support services.
The Green Papers Supporting Families (Home Office, 1998) and Every Child Matters (DfES, 2003) – preceding the 2004 Children Act – emphasised the Government’s commitment to expanding these services. The policy shift towards parents has been accompanied by a shift towards prevention and early intervention. Engaging parents in preventive mainstream services (such as schools, family centres and children’s centres) has become a key issue for policy makers and service providers. The updated EYFS (2012) also encourage parents to play a much more active
role in their child’s learning and development, this is done through getting parents in on regular basis to discuss their child progress through three monthly assessments, as assessment is a very important part of the framework, and gives practitioners a way of building relationships with parents aiding quality relationships which will benefit the child and help parents understand the framework used aiding a better understanding of their child’s development, and what they can do to enhance their child’s learning and development and may help them to understand that they are the most important part of their child’s development, and to know that have support if difficulties with development occur.
Engagement of staff and inclusion within a setting are particularly important for preventive services such as early years settings because, unlike more intensive ‘crisis’ services where there is often a degree of compulsion, preventive services usually rely on parents actively seeking help or voluntarily accepting help offered to them. In addition, engaging parents in services can benefit the quality of the service (Barnes and Freude-Lagevardi, 2002) and make it more likely that the service will actually address the real problems within families (Moran et al. , 2004).
Awareness of the need for mainstream services to involve parents has increased, as evidenced by Every Child Matters (DfES, 2003) and the guidance for initiatives such as Sure Start and the Parenting Fund (Sure Start Unit, 2002; NFPI, 2004). But there are still gaps in our understanding of what persuades parents to participate and the factors that facilitate the involvement of those least likely to access services. Parents who are most in need of services, including those who lack informal support, are often the least likely to access them (Ghate and Hazel, 2002). Example one – partnership with parents It is important that people who are working with children and parents are aware of equality and diversity within their setting or establishment. If
they are unaware, it can build barriers which can affect the children within their care, causing the children and their parents to become withdrawn and feel excluded, this can cause a breakdown in communication resulting in the child not receiving the best possible care. 1. 11 Each child must be assigned a key person5 (a safeguarding and welfare requirement – see paragraph 3. 26).
Providers must inform parents and/or carers of the name of the key person, and explain their role, when a child starts attending a setting. The key person must help ensure that every child’s learning and care is tailored to meet their individual needs. The key person must seek to engage and support parents and/or carers in guiding their child’s development at home.
They should also help families engage with more specialist support if appropriate. EYFS (2012) This is why staff training is also important. While there is some debate, particularly in the field of parenting support, about whether training is a significant factor (Henricson et al. , 2001) there is clear evidence that trained staff are more effective in relation to their impact on parents and children (Chaffin, 2004; Moran et al. , 2004). So it is important that we as practitioners reflect on our practice and realise that all children are unique. It is also important to ensure all children and their families are treated equally and with respect.
The EYFS (2007:10) States, ‘All children, irrespective of ethnicity, culture or religion, home language, family background, learning difficulties or disabilities, gender or ability should have the opportunity to experience a challenging and enjoyable programme of learning and development’.
This can be achieved by involving parents and carers from all backgrounds and abilities into our settings, to educate children and staff on cultures, religions or just to engage in activities which may interest children, for example parents who could teach children how to play musical instruments etc. Settings could also use resources within the setting which reflect good practice and inclusion for example books, pictures, clothes, and foods into our role play area.
The key worker approach in Early Years Settings has been mostly successful enabling the key worker to build a relationship of trust and confidence with children and their family’s to ensure that children feels safe and secure, and the parent feel at ease leaving there children within the setting.
This is also a must in the new updated version of the EYFS (2012), but there are still some parents which who have trouble engaging with staff, due to their own reasons. One way this common problem was over come in one setting was by using questionnaires to ask parents if they were happy with the service they were being provided with. Many researchers, practitioners, and policymakers have documented the importance of parental involvement.
A significant body of research (Fraser, 1996; Henderson & Berla, 1994; McMillan and Leslie, 1998; Olmstead & Rubin, 1983) indicates that when parents participate in their children’s education, the result is an increase in student achievement and an improvement of students’ attitudes. Increased attendance, fewer disciplinary problems, and higher aspirations have also been correlated with an increase in parent involvement even after socio-economic status and student ability have been taken into account (Epstein, 1987; Eagle, 1989). Furthermore, if increased parental involvement creates the perception that the school is more effective, it is likely that student achievement will increase (Caplan, Choy, & Whitmore, 1992).
More recent understandings of the ways in which young children learn recognise the child as an ‘active learner’ relying on and learning from a wide range of experiences beyond the school boundary. Viewing children as ‘active learners’ highlights that not all learning takes place in school.
The importance of home and family as environments for learning and the role of parents as educators are now recognised. There is a consensus of opinion that much of children’s early literacy and numeracy development happens outside the school (see Hannon, 1998; Henderson & Berla, 1994; Weinberger, 1996). It occurs within the social context of home and family (see Merttens, Newland & Webb, 1996).
This new understanding demonstrates that parents play a crucial role as educators of their own children. Parents benefit as well as their children if they are seen as having a role in their children’s education. They develop a greater appreciation of their role, an improved sense of self worth, stronger social networks, and even the desire to continue their own education (Cairney, 1996). They also come to understand more about their schools and teaching and learning activities in general (Davies 1988; Liontos 1994). Teachers report that they are encouraged by strong support from involved parents to raise their expectations for both children and parents (SOED, 1996).
After a week the questionnaires were collected in and looked at and researched, there was only a small number of parents who had taken the time to fill them in and give there valuable views. These views where addressed and actions were put in place and put on the parents board for other parents to see. From this exercise we now use the pro-forma below to ensure all parents are receiving relevant information and being kept up to date with change to the setting and ensuring parents are signing to say they have received it.
Types of Information sharing may include: Learning Stories Letters Phone Calls Conversations Summative Assessments Newsletters Example Family/Child’s name: Date of Birth: METHOD OF COMMUNICATIONWHAT WAS THE INFORMATION SHARED AND WITH WHO. SIGNED DATE Example two – observation and assessment Following on from partnership with parents Research has shown observations and assessments are key to quality learning experiences and can promote valuable learning outcomes for example, the educational model Experiential Education (EXE) scoring.
This document is used to track children’s development and well being. This evolved during the 70’s and 80’s from a series of observations of young children in early education across a range of regions and countries. The theory is it is an economical way of assessing the quality of an educational setting and focuses on two processes the “emotional well being” and the level of “involvement of the child”. If the child’s shows a sense of “well being” this indicates that their basic needs are being met. When the child shows involvement this shows the child is operating at their full capability.
Observations and assessments in the form of the EYFS, are also a way of discovering children’s individual needs, whether it be learning, social or special needs, through the key worker or teacher’s assessments a setting’s or school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) can meet the needs of children through partnership with parents and other agencies whom may become involved for the needs and well being of children.
Children may need differentiation, strategies or a play plan in place to aid their progress; this will all be in co ordination with the setting SENCO working from the Special educational needs Code of Practice. Three monthly assessments and observations in learning journeys play an important part in helping parents, carers and practitioners to recognise children’s progress, understand their needs, and to plan activities and support.
Ongoing assessment (also known as formative assessment) is an integral part of the learning and development process. It involves practitioners observing children to understand their level of achievement, interests and learning styles, and to then shape learning experiences for each child reflecting those observations.
In their interactions with children, practitioners should respond to their own day-to-day observations about children’s progress and observations that parents and carers share, but if practitioners are not fully aware of their role and do not have clear understanding of the framework, or have educational difficulties themselves, and do not have support with this, this could affect the quality and learning of the children within the setting.
The government have recognised this and have put government run schemes in place to ensure early years have quality practitioners, who can lead and support other practitioners and give advice and support where needed.
The Early Years Professional Status (EYPS) was proudly introduced by the government in 2007 as part of its ambitious plan to raise standards in early years education. The EYPS is widely advertised by universities and offers the courses as being equivalent to qualified teacher status. There are now more than 2,500 graduate-level EYPs and a further 2,400 in training in 35 higher education institutions.
By the year 2010 it was planned there would be in every early years and children’s centre (around nearly 3,000 of them) and there will be a requirement to have an early years professional on board. The government has set an even more ambitious target for 2015, when all full daycare settings will be required to have at least one.
Example three – developing and enhancing the outdoors. This example is an ongoing matter within early years settings, and was taken from an EYPS’S observation to enhance the outdoors.
An observation was carried out at a early years setting and immediately it became evident that continuous outdoor play was not offered within the setting, the observation was carried out for the best part of the day and whilst present the door remained closed, so not allowing children to have access to outdoor play, when the staff where approached regarding the why the door was closed the reply was because it was raining outside The observation in the pre-school room, n