Like many of you, we spent a fair few hours on the motorway en route to the country for the Easter Weekend. It’s a time to catch up on playing forgotten, new or favourite music. However, our car has a CD system known as Touchy that decides what it wants to play. If Touchy dislikes the CD she refuses to play or chooses another one instead. It’s the same with the radio. She likes Magic, refuses Radio 4 and has completely stopped playing Classic! This weekend she has taken a liking to Jack Johnson’s CD from the film Curious George and his friends.
I must admit to being a terrible passenger and I am worse on the motorway. My eyes are squeezed tight, my stomach a permanent knot and I duck up and down as if watching a scene from a Scandi Noir. The upside is that I focus my attention on listening to the lyrics of the music. Jack Johnson benefited from all my attention and focus and I listened intently to his lyrics. He sang about sharing and being friends and looking out for the new person and being kind. This appears to be a theme for me at the moment. It may be because I am not seeing much about kindness or care.
Is there a collective nervous breakdown going on in society at the moment? Have we have lost sight of what makes us human? The issue of care is now an issue of money, convenience and return on investment. It’s considered acceptable by commissioners to give a lonely elderly person one hour of support a week or time the delivery of their meals on wheel delivery to exactly 10 minutes. Hardly time to say hello and goodbye.
In childcare we face the same challenge. The 30 hours offer is fast becoming a battle for funding. It is a conversation hijacked. The offer’s utility to society is measured only in how many parents it will free up to work and contribute to the great British economy instead of trying, as painful as it is, to understand the problems facing the early years sector and the compounding problems mounted on the sector by initiatives we can’t afford. This would entail putting the child first, not return on investment.
Talk is of top ups and charging for lunches and tea when it should be of quality, health, nutrition and equal provision for all children. It’s shocking and poorer children will suffer more. Let’s raise the status of care and the quality of care and start a national conversation with parents about what care should look like and what the 30 Hours should deliver.
In the words of Jack Johnson “ let’s not take the wrong turn”.