Tag Archives: Education

Six Steps For A World Leading Early Interventionist Childcare Strategy

Westminster storm

The election fever has begun.  Well, less of a fever and more of a virus at the moment. The manifesto writers are busy locked in a darkened room trying to shape their political parties’ ideas and offers. According to the media and political pundits the main subject of the election is Brexit but a general election needs to address domestic bread and butter policy as well.

The challenge of all manifesto promises is that they are great big statements with little attention to the detail.  More often than not, the translation of the manifesto promises is delegated to the local authorities. These, much maligned councils, very often find themselves having to interpret these promises into pragmatic solutions without the necessary resources. This is a concern for all local authorities given they are under huge financial pressure, not least in the area of social care and community support.

Some local authorities are still trying to deliver big manifesto promises from the last parliament such as Universal Credit which are still not implemented and emerging information shows that the promise is benefiting fewer than the anticipated headline numbers leading to greater complexity.  In fact, in the case of Universal Credit the very recent DWP figures confirmed that the number of people caught in the cross fire of a manifesto promise has increased from 8000 to 15000.  The result is more working people now live in poverty and around 2.3 million children in the UK are living below the Child Poverty Act 2010 relative poverty threshold, representing one-fifth of all children. By the same measure, eight million working age adults and, overall, over one-fifth of the UK population live in poverty. For those families stuck in a cycle of poverty the escape routes are limited. Routes out of poverty include cheaper housing, affordable childcare and flexible employment. These options are currently not freely available.

The issue of childcare is of great interest to me. As a social entrepreneur I lead the design and development of the largest community childcare social business, the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF). It was created to reduce poverty by providing all families but especially poor families access to affordable childcare.  However, despite successive Governments recognising the benefits to parents and children of good quality affordable childcare, we have yet to see a fully funded robust coherent anti child poverty childcare system implemented. Every Government has done something but never enough given the raft of national and international research which confirms the long-term benefit of high quality childcare and education for children, families and societies.

John Adams, the second American president from (1797 to 1801) noted back then that

john adams

A more recent advocate of this approach is Nobel prize winning economist Professor James Heckman who shows how childcare can reduce poverty and improve the educational achievement gap found in disadvantaged children.  This gap opens up between them and their more affluent peers at 22 months and is very hard to close.  He argued that Governments should invest in early years not least because of the rate of return which he calculated as a 7 to 10% return per annum through better outcomes in education, health, sociability, economic productivity and reduced crime. So, the argument for early intervention is strong, and quality childcare plays a significant part in this.

For example our Prime Minister Theresa May recently challenged us as a society for failing to tackle the issue of mental ill health which as she said goes right to the heart of our humanity.

Child mental healthShe cited government statistics that show one in four people has a mental disorder at some point in their life, with young people affected disproportionately as half of mental health problems start by the age of 14 and 75% by 18 at an annual cost of £105bn. Half of this would fund a world leading, life changing, society improving early interventionist childcare strategy.

There are many other benefits to taking an early interventionist route; employment that balances work and family enhances well bring, reduces poverty and sets a positive example to children.  Lone parents who have flexible work and accessible childcare step out of poverty more quickly and the cost benefit of enabling professional educated women to work while their children are young has innumerable benefits for employers and the country’s economy.  The challenge is therefore building and funding an early interventionist strategy that recognises how childcare can be key to our social and economic infrastructure.

The impending new government therefore has the chance to pull together all the positive elements of previous governments policy initiatives and create the most effective and powerful early interventionist childcare in the world beginning with these six steps:

1. Raise the profile and long-term impact of good quality childcare and how it benefits all children and society by leading a strong public front facing awareness campaign

2. Boost the involvement of employers in the awareness campaign so that they invest in better childcare and family friendly activates to attract and retain staff

3. Strengthen quality by investing in an Early Years work strategy that sets out and funds a national properly paid, attractive career pathway from apprentice to Masters degrees.

4. Develop a national housing policy which includes an explicit keyworker building programme especially for those low paid nursery staff.

5. Better fund the public childcare offer so that its fair and accessible to all parents not just those who can make up the shortfall through parental contributions.

6. Amplify and foster the important role of social businesses in the childcare market as sustainable means of providing high quality childcare within poor and diverse communities.

Take the Christmas Quiz and See if You Can Remember Anything From 2016!

Many of you have broken up this weekend (or broken down!) and the rest of us continue to work flat out until Christmas Eve (another reason to support nurseries designed to ensure parents can work!). So put on a red hat, sing along to the tune of Mariah Carey’ s greatest Christmas hit while pretending to be the Eggheads and do this quiz at your last staff meeting of the year!

June1 June2 June3

 

 

 

Questions Answers
1 Which Member of Parliament said in her maiden speech ‘I’m the only member of the house who at the age of 16 and pregnant was told ‘I wouldn’t amount to anything’’. a. Angela Rayner
b. Tracy Brabin
c. Heidi Allen
2 What percentage of school children in year six are now clinically obese? a. 19.8%
b. 24.7%
c. 29.8%
3 What % of nurseries are rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted? a. 86%
b. 91%
c. 95%
4 Who was the charming Breakfast TV presenter who interviewed Gill Jones from Ofsted this year? a. Charlie Stayt
b. Ben Shepard
c. Piers Morgan
5 How many local authorities are piloting 30 hours of free childcare before the national roll-out in September 2017? a. 8
b. 10
c. 25
6 Which charity went into administration in August? a. Kids Company
b. 4Children
c. Care Leavers Foundation
 7 What policy is causing the sector to have a recruitment crisis? a. GCSE A to C Maths and English
b. Certificate in Child Development
c. Functional Skills
 8 If Santa was traveling at 650 miles a second, how many homes would he need to visit to deliver all the world’s gifts? (Hope you have your GCSE Maths!) a. 756 per second
b. 822 per second
c. 1915 per second
 9 Who refused to back the appointment of Amanda Spielman as the New Ofsted Chief Inspector? (They did the same to Anne Longfield when appointed Children’s Commissioner) a.  Sir Michael Wiltshire
b. Education Select Committee
c.  Justine Greening
 10 In August the DfE promised that from 2018, local authorities will need to pass what minimum proportion of Government childcare funding to the early years providers as part of plans for a national funding formula? a. 72%
b. 89.5%
c. 95%

Bonus Question: Name these old favourites (take that whatever way you like!)

June 2June 1June 3June 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Christmas! Prepare yourself for more chaos and confusion in 2017!

June5

Answers : 1 (a) 2 (a) 3 (b) 4 (c) 5 (a) 6 (b) 7 (a) 8 (b) 9 (b) 10 (b)

Can We Top Trump’s Childcare Policies?

trump

Last week the US electorate put two fingers up to the neoliberal establishment and voted in Donald Trump to be the next president of the USA. While I, along with many others, watched in silent fascination as this was played out, I was also preparing to meet two politicians who may have a greater say in our world.

On Thursday evening we held the annual Margaret Horn Debate. The subject was a debate about the challenge of childcare in London. We hosted the newly appointed Deputy Mayor for Education and Childcare for London, Joanne McCartney.  I was chuffed to have her there as this is the first time that we have a dedicated Mayor for education and childcare, so a pat on the back to Sadiq Khan who has included this in his manifesto. Joanne was joined by colleagues to look at the wider issues including family friendly work spaces, the role of fathers and the huge issue of child poverty in London. child poverty blogChild poverty merits a blog of its own, but clearly childcare has a role to play in reducing it. I am keen that we understand that childcare is part of London’s infrastructure, so the discussion needs to address the cost of affordable housing and transport for staff as well as childcare featuring as part of the city’s economic partnerships.

Joanne has begun a process of listening including organising a roundtable. This is a good start along with accepting the challenge to make London a beacon of excellence. I modestly pointed out that she has a good start as LEYF is the largest provider in London and has the highest number of Outstanding and Good Ofsted results despite the areas within which we work! However, the audience made it clear that patience was limited and the infrastructure of childcare itself such as funding, recruitment and quality improvement needed immediate attention.

Later that week , I met Tulip Siddiq MP who is the newly appointed Shadow Minister for Early Years Education.  Clearly Tulip is smart and interested in her brief, particularly as she is a new Mum. She is also launching a Taskforce to look at childcare especially as a lever out of poverty.  As a London MP she is also aware of the specifics of London, although of course she has the country wide brief.

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As with Joanne, I pointed out the impact of poor policy such as the recruitment crisis on early years education. This highlights inadequate funding but also the inability of politicians to relate the complexity of childcare as infrastructure to the public. The public need to understand the purpose of childcare, the state subsidy, the financial contribution and the power and trump populism toy storyimportance of childcare in evening out the widening disadvantage in Britain today. The Early Years sector has a fundamental role to play in social integration, bridging divides and including the marginalised at a time when the marginalised are increasingly turning to populist solutions (Brexit and Trump).

What does this look like in practice? Social integration is about more than mere words; our children spend time with the elderly, we give youth at risk work experience in our nurseries to give purpose and confidence, our settings get to know their local communities by being present outside of our nursery doors. This creates connections between divided peoples, in turn creates cultural capital and acts as a preventative measure against isolation and the myriad anti-social dangers that come with isolation.

This took me straight to Donald Trump.  Here is a man who had connected with the public, so watch this and see how he seduces the audience with promises of tax-reduced childcare including for those stay-at-home mums.

If Trump can teach us one thing, it could be how to influence the public to think the way you think and become your fans.  Even when he makes the baby cry, he makes his parents smile. So is there is a lesson here for our politicians?

Get the childcare message right and they might just win the day! !

Margaret Horn 2016 : The London Childcare Challenge

Margaret Horn

Margaret Horn

Every year during the November Global Enterprise Fortnight we host the Margaret Horn Debate to celebrate Social Enterprise Day. Margaret Horn was the first director of the charity that in 2008 become the social enterprise London Early Years Foundation (LEYF). I know very little about her, (despite our research) but I do know that she was a pupil of Octavia Hill, a woman I have always admired for her energy, ambition and social enterprise.

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Last year we debated the importance of businesses being family friendly and it was a very popular theme and so therefore it seemed logical to continue the debate especially as we have a new London Mayor, Sadiq Khan (for those of you who have been sharing Sleeping Beauty’s glass box) who seems much more in touch with what needs to happen to support Londoners live well and work successfully. Certainly, during a visit to a LEYF nursery, our Mayor demonstrated a greater grasp that childcare is a crucial part of our city’s infrastructure, helping parents to work, improving children’s educational outcomes and helping narrow the achievement gap between disadvantaged children and their more affluent peers.

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London has a lot of childcare challenges particularly if it is to provide the range of places. available to meet the number needed to put the number of children across our very diverse city.  We need to have sufficient staff to run the nurseries and provide the best service to all our children.  This is tricky as nurseries receive insufficient Government funding which is sorely felt in an expensive city where childcare costs are on average 23 per cent higher than the rest of England.  At LEYF we subsidise nearly 48% of places but that can’t be sustained given the increasing living costs and the difficulty of recruiting staff who can no longer afford to live in the city where housing costs are around 50% higher than the rest of the UK and transport costs overwhelming. I won’t comment on Southern, my local rail operator, just feel my pain.

When it comes to child poverty, 700,000 children living in London are below the poverty line, that is 37% of all children compared to 26% across the UK. Children in London are much more likely to live in poverty with 14 out of the top 20 local authorities with the highest rates of child poverty across the UK. Half of 0 to 19-year-olds in London (1.1. million) live in a family that receives tax credits. 640,000 children benefit from in-work tax credits. Poor children in London are less likely to be able to afford everyday items than those elsewhere in the country.

We need sufficient providers running sustainable services to offer the 15 funded hours childcare to local families, the Two Year Old offer as well as children with learning needs and disabilities.  That’s problematic as property costs in the city are exorbitant and there is no London funding for capital expenditure.  In a Huffington Post blog, I wrote in March this year, I raised the difficulties childcare providers face in London trying to keep childcare fees affordable when the Government subsidy still only meets half the cost of a place? I also commented on one of the many unintended consequences of poorly drafted Government policies which is resulting in the emergence of two-tier services with separate provision for those children on the ‘free offer.’

Finally, there also needs to be a bigger conversation with parents and the public about a wide range of issues such as what education for small children looks like in different settings, what that means for their children, limiting early and unnecessary transition to school and understanding why community nurseries are a good thing for children in London because they help create social capital by building local networks, reducing loneliness and nurturing community spirit.

This is a flavour of this year’s debate.

So, don’t lose hope. Join us for a lively discussion and debate with London’s first Deputy Mayor for Education and Childcare, Joanne McCartney alongside a panel of colleagues,  about how we can address the London Childcare Challenge together.

Sign up below for the Margaret Horn Debate on 10th November, 17.30 at the BT Centre, 81 Newgate Street (closest tube, St Pauls).

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/margaret-horn-debate-tickets-28686249344

 

 

May the Force Be With You : The Rallying Cry in Dublin  at the 26th EECERA Conference

The EECERA Conference is an annual event and I always try and attend accompanied by LEYF staff where possible. It’s much better fun when we go as a group!  I remember our first EECERA conference in Malta.  We were so excited, gathered in Gatwick all ready to learn and have fun. I had been encouraged to attend  by Margy Whalley from Pen Green who regularly attends with a group of practitioners.  She convinced me of the importance of practitioners hearing about philosophy and research first hand so they could consider, challenge, copy, contest and generally help bridge the pure academic approach with practice.

When you are you philosophising you have to descend into primeval chaos

(Wittgenstein)

Chris Pascal along with Tony Bertram and Ferre Leavers set up EECERA 26 years ago. Chris is a great friend to LEYF and we have always tried to benefit from her work at CREC. Her observation that not involving practitioners in research is wasteful and is a mantra that has influenced the LEYF approach to action research which is a key driver for our quality stance. It is woven into the first element of the LEYF Pedagogy  (Leadership for Excellence).Therefore, anyone attending from LEYF has to present a paper about some aspect of our action research.

Unfortunately, for a number of reasons I attended the conference on my own. The conference was in Dublin organised by Early Childhood Ireland with which we have a very warm relationship. It was the largest conference ever but despite this I met many old friends from as far afield as Australia including our special friends from the social enterprise Goodstart and Stepping Stones in Tasmania.

The conference was called Happiness, Relationships, Emotions and Deep Level Learning but what is very noticeable is that the tone is set by the host country.  This was very evident from the opening addresses with references to the Irish poet Seamus Heeney and quoting the third verse of his poem Chorus from the Cure at Troy (1990)

History says, don’t hope

On this side of the grave.

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up,

And hope and history rhyme.

Seamus Heeney 1937 – 2013

As well as asking Van Morrison’s question Why couldn’t it be like this all of the time? A celebration to the 920 Early Years people sitting in harmony in Dublin City University.

Aline-Wendy Dunlop gave a very engaging and warm tribute to Jerome Bruner (1915 – 2016) who died earlier this year. His work has been very influential in the second element of the LEYF pedagogy (The Spiral Curriculum). His book The Culture of Education which he wrote in West Cork is my favourite book as it connects the importance of culture and narrative.  He describes conversation as a great means of learning. This is something we are exploring in LEYF through the notion of the pedagogical conversation.  This was the basis of one of my presentations at the conference and is the LEYF hypothesis from which we are developing our Home Learning research. His other comments are about the community which we translate into our LEYF Multi-Generational Approach.  This was the second paper I delivered with colleagues from the US who are also advocating and showing the benefits of helping children reach out into the community in a way that enables the community to reach back in.

The opening speeches asked the question: why do governments think that early years can solve all of the challenges of society whether it is poverty or obesity, wellbeing to mental health?   Dr Anne Looney reminded us that since the 1970s governments have framed education as the problem which needs to be fixed as opposed to fixing social inequality.

Professor Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Professor of Globalisation and Education at New York University extended this question within the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the move away from the child’s right to survive and towards the child’s right to thrive.  He particularly focused on targets 4.2 which require all girls and boys to have access to quality, organised Early Years pre-primary education designed to support their development and wellbeing. He asked what government expectations were for all these children given that quality is informed by high expectations. Interesting question in the light of the cost cutting approach we are trying to manage in the UK.

Dr Looney furthered challenged whether quality was at risk from Governments push in favour of

  • Increased standardisation
  • A narrowing curriculum
  • Low risk approach to learning
  • Test based accountability for teachers and schools
  • Corporate management models for schools and settings
  • Over emphasis on big data and insufficient small data that comes from the child and the teacher feedback

Is the Government over control of education going to drive adventurous teaching that enthuses children, she asked, or is it just about competence?  I was pleased that Professor Yoshiikawa reminded us that quality is more achievable within small group sizes with high adult child ratios  but the key quality driver was a culture of coaching and learning including open sourced sharing and networking which made me very happy to be a founding member of International Early Years.  Dr Looney asked us to be catalysts and counterpoints to the narrowing debate to avoid becoming casualties.  She reminded us that we must be a coherent, motivated, engaged and strategic group to become a force to be reckoned with.  She urged us to join Luke Skywalker in Skellig Rock in West Cork and left us with the Star Wars blessing,

May the force be with you

 

 

Parents, your childcare could be in jeopardy

Dear Parents

Do you know that your childcare could be in jeopardy?  Why?  Because a decision made in 2014 by the then Minister for Childcare is having a detrimental effect on recruitment? She required all childcare students and apprentices to have a GCSE Level A to C in English and Maths in order to complete their Level 3 Diploma in Childcare but as we warned then there were insufficient numbers of students available to complete a childcare qualification with both those grades.

The sector can’t fix in a short time what 11 years of schooling have failed to achieve.’ We have suggested a practical solution which was allowing us to use the Functional Skills as an alternative entry requirement.  These qualifications are Government approved and the acceptable entry requirement for all other apprenticeships.

Sadly, this was refused and the consequence is a catastrophic decline in available qualified staff.  There has been a 72% drop in students enrolling in Level 3 courses and a 96% drop in apprentices.   The sector has now reached crisis point. The pipeline for new staff is dry and those who replace staff leaving through natural attrition are few. We certainly cannot meet our growth targets for the 15 hours or the 2 year old offer (80,000 places short) let alone plans to increase to 30 hours.

There is no benefit to having this barrier to entry. In fact it will lead to a reduction in quality as nurseries are forced to take more unqualified staff as they can be employed without the A to C GCSEs.  However, to maintain quality we must have a balance of qualified staff.  Right now, our committed staff are tired, worried and at breaking point.  Depending on agency staff is unsafe, expensive and not conducive to quality for children.  We need to be able train and recruit staff who want to work with children and who can be supported, developed and retained to provide the quality service that every child deserves.

The irony is that the solution is simple.  Change the wording of the regulations to include the option for Functional Skills as the entry requirements and do it before the 1st September so new students can be enrolled on their courses. But who can intervene on our behalf? We have neither a strategy nor a Minister for Childcare.

We need parents to help us get this fixed.

Parents realise the impact having no childcare could have on their daily lives. Today nurseries are part of the infrastructure of a modern society; they are not a “nice to have”. Please can we see the necessary change from the Government in order to support those childcare organisations which enable ordinary working families to work.

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Dear Justine Greening MP

Congratulations on your appointment as Secretary of State for Education. It is quite a Brief so l hope that those of us who have been grappling with it for a while help you.

I was very heartened to hear you say on the Andrew Marr show that you wanted education to be part of your ambition to improve social mobility.   The door to social mobility is opened even before birth and there is a wealth of research, experience and knowledge which shows how the Early Years holds the key to narrowing the achievement gap. As CEO of the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF), the largest childcare social enterprise in the UK, our whole community nursery model is designed to increase social mobility, using a combination of subsidised fees, local employment and apprentices. We want all children to have the best possible start in their lives, we want parents to be involved, we want our employees to be the best they can and lastly, we want the education and raising of children to be a community affair. The fact that many children don’t have the best possible start in their lives is something we need to strive to change together. 24954704121_d7741abf3d_z

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Welcome to the House of Fun

Last week I met colleagues from the EarlyArts and www.telltalehearts.co.uk. It’s always fun to explore elements of good practice with lively people and we spent the morning considering the importance of creative learning environments.  Amanda from Formation People reflected about the need for creative leadership. She reflected about the leaders she meets who continue to see creativity as a module rather than a way of behaving as Einstein said creativity is contagious, so let’s spread a creativity virus.albert-einstein-quote-on-creativity[1]

Why do we need to build a creative learning environment? The early years world is subject to constant change from external factors from economics and policies to internal changes such as new children’s interests and expectations. Creativity needs to be our backbone, our raison d’etre or modus operandi (…I can’t think of this is any more languages just now!)

Why? First and foremost, creativity leads to happy staff because it gives you space to play; play with ideas, words and activities and have fun. It does not take much research to show that a fun environment where you feel happy and engaged is more likely to bring the best out in people.  Why does Google, Bain and other big companies put games and toys in their buildings? They want happy staff who will give more and succeed more and who become creative thinkers, transferring their skills and knowledge to make interesting and creative connections.

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Fostering creativity is fundamentally important because creativity brings with it the ability to question, make connections, innovate, problem solve, communicate, collaborate and to reflect critically. All of which is vital for children to be able to play their part in their rapidly changing world.

The importance of having a creative staff who can embellish and fascinate children by using imagination, creativity and all the arts available as part of children’s daily lives is what matters.

Creativity helps people understand more deeply and build the emotional intelligence needed to create harmonious relationships and happy environments which bring the best out in people.  Anything that will reduce our amygdala hijacks has to be a good thing. Do you often think of a better way of doing something? Do you want to think of a better way? John Howkins askes these questions in his book The Creative Economy. Last Friday I was contacted by Jane Parker, a music teacher from Devon who wants Children Centre Managers across UK to complete a surveymonkey.com/s/PLPTLVN in order to find out if there is a better way of using music teachers.

For creativity to flourish we need the freedom to ask questions, believe or disbelieve, explore possibilities and have fun doing so. Given how much time we spend at work lets develop our creativity and make our workplaces a House of Fun. We know what Jane wants to happen to improve music, what do you want to happen?7164650083_ab07ed1e49_z

 

 

Where does Early Years fit in the ‘British Values’ in Education Debate?

Mr Gove seems unable to avoid controversy and so began another educational debate when he decided that schools would need to promote ‘British values.’
As ever, Early Years education was ignored but in fact values are a central and quite explicit element of the way we educate our youngest children, not least because we cannot educate small children without the very active and close involvement of parents and their communities.
What is a value? Is it not a set of principles and standards of behaviours about what is important in life? Of course these principles are mostly unconscious as we translate them into our rules, attitudes and moral codes of conduct and behaviour. The issue of values is a live one for Early Years Education as we battle to get Government and policy makers to recognise its centrality for achieving those very values described by our Prime Minister, David Cameron as freedom, tolerance, respect for the rule of law and belief in personal and social responsibility.7164353399_cb49b0119f_z
However our politicians, schooled in the art of blandness, continue to come out with the usual clichés to describe values, presents us with a bigger problem. This statement to teach ‘British values’ is another opportunity for Government to disrupt the whole sector. The pattern so far has been to issue a dictum, ‘consult’ and then ignore the consultation and insist its done their way. Early Years education is one example but the whole of the Education sector has been in a constant state of flux since politicians started to really mess with it. In the past, the duty of the Education Secretary was to squeeze money for milk from the Treasury. Nowadays, they are meddling with the pedagogy and curriculum while ignoring any research or experts. What happened to the thinking of Rousseau, Dewey, Froebel, McMillan and Vygotsky among others? Is it all to be abandoned in favour of what politicians refer to ‘common-sense?’ I remember the wise words of my first Open University tutor (my first degree was OU and I have liked the University ever since.) He said we are here to think deeply so let’s give ‘common sense’ a break.
There is plenty of evidence to identify British Values. The British Social Attitudes survey  has been conducted annually since 1983. Every year the survey asks over 3,000 people what it’s like to live in Britain and how they think Britain is run; tracking people’s changing social, political and moral attitudes. It informs the development of public policy and is an important barometer of public attitudes used by opinion leaders and social commentators. The 2013 survey focused on the case for immigration. There is the UK Values Survey on Increasing Happiness. Citizens of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales were found to share seven values in common: caring, family, honesty, humour/fun, friendship, fairness and compassion.

Their personal values show that:

  • Meaningful close relationships with others are important to them and are central to the decisions they make.
  • Kindness, empathy and consideration are crucial to their interactions with others.
  • They seek to ensure that people are treated justly and fairly.
  • They have a fun loving approach to life and enjoy sharing good times.
  • They appreciate freedom and autonomy and prefer not to be reliant on others

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The views of 42,000 children aged 8 – 15 formed the basis of the research commissioned 2012/3 by The Children’s Society. The resulting report Good Childhood: Searching for Values in a Competitive Age by Richard Layard and Judy Dunn in 2012 which found in summary children wanted was a happier society which valued and ensured stable families, where schools developed emotionally resilient children eager to contribute to the social good in safe and secure communities, where a greater spirit of equality increases mutual respect and trust, where employment was stable and there was no risk to economic policies that jeopardise the stability to increase economic growth.
Thomas Jefferson said that the care of human life and happiness is the only legitimate object of good government‘. So this Government should make the happiness of the people the main outcome which they pursue and maybe apply the value of listening.
Currently at LEYF we are refreshing our values to make sure they rightly reflect the views and ambitions of children, parents and staff. Everyday, our organisation welcomes 3000 children from a wide range of communities and cultures across London and it’s important to us that the organisation listens, articulates and translates our shared values into a clear message. This is modern Britain and so we are articulating our British/Education values. To describe LEYF values: words like nurturing, brave, fun and inspiring are front runners. How do those words translate the values into action and behaviour?

  • Using play as a significant means of teaching is essential as we believe children should have fun while building the cognitive, social, and emotional skills necessary for healthy growth and development.
  • We want to inspire our staff to reflect and challenge and improve research to continually inform our approach so we can be brave and stand up for what is best for children.
  • We want to ensure our staff are trained to nurture children and their parents and be empathetic and kind in their behaviour and language while ensuring secure, consistent and responsive attachments.

These are some of our British values and they reflect what we believe to be right for children in London today. They form the basis of our modus operandi.

But Mr Gove, in answering your request that we teach and live by our British values, will you leave it at that? Will you prevent policy meddling when some of the values do not fit comfortably with yours or that of your Government? Will you trust our British values?banksychildlabor-582x436[1]

Visiting the Farmer is his Den

Last week I visited Paddington Farm in Glastonbury Somerset of which I am Chair. It’s a lovely 43 acre organic farm which is run as a social enterprise. The farm offers holidays to groups and families at a reasonable price with lovely educational activities to give everyone a relaxing and fun holiday.

Children and staff from LEYF have visited the farm for the past twenty years and always come back relaxed and enthused and much more knowledgeable about the origins of their food. In a world where we trust less and are highly anxious about health and safety, a visit to the farm is almost essential. Of course, visiting a farm is not in the EYFS but you could probably meet most of the EYFS requirements after a week on a farm.

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