The Scottish Government published its play strategy action plan.
Source: Play Strategy for Scotland: Our action plan, Scottish Government
A report set out a new framework for early years education in Northern Ireland. Building on recent consultation, the 'Learning to Learn' framework provided a policy focus for the Department of Education and the forthcoming Education and Skills Authority, as well as a framework for enhanced coordination and collaboration across departments and agencies.
Source: Learning to Learn: A framework for early years education and learning, Northern Ireland Executive
A report said that boys, and children in poverty, could quickly close the attainment gap with other children if they were given the right early literacy support, and that the impact on their learning was long-lasting. 83 per cent of disadvantaged children in a 'reading recovery' scheme achieved the age-related expectations for literacy after six years, compared with 85 per cent of their more advantaged peers.
Source: Reading Recovery: Annual technical report for the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland 2012-13, European Centre for Reading Recovery (Institute of Education, University of London)
A new book examined a range of early years curriculum models from across the world, providing in-depth discussion of key issues and theories.
Source: Lynn Ang (ed.), The Early Years Curriculum: The UK context and beyond, Routledge
Notes: Chapters included:
Carolyn Silberfeld and Karen Horsley, 'The early years foundation stage curriculum in England: implications for practice and practitioners'
A report examined what the term 'school ready' meant for childcare professionals, parents, and primary school teachers. The majority of each group of respondents, including 97 per cent of childcare professionals, agreed that the term should be defined as children who had strong social skills, could cope emotionally with being separated from their parents, were relatively independent in their own personal care, and had a curiosity about the world and a desire to learn. Cognitive and academic skills such as reading and writing were not as important as children being confident, independent, and curious.
Source: What Does 'School Ready' Really Mean?, Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years
The coalition government announced that free early education for children at age 2 (also referred to as 'free childcare') would be extended from September 2014 to families in England who earned less than £16,910 per year and received working tax credit. As a result the proportion of children eligible to receive free care (of up to 15 hours per week) was set to double from 20 to 40 per cent, or 260,000 in total.
Source: Speech by Nick Clegg MP (Deputy Prime Minister), 2 September 2013
Links: Speech | DE press release | Action for Children press release | Childrens Partnership press release | Childrens Society press release | 4Children press release | Labour Party press release | NCB press release | NCT press release | NDNA press release | BBC report | Daily Mail report | Guardian report | Public Finance report
The inspectorate for education and children's services published the result of consultation on changes to the inspection framework aimed at improving the quality of early years provision. It said that only provision that was 'good' or better should be considered good enough for very young children. From November 2013, a judgement of 'requires improvement' would replace the existing 'satisfactory' judgement – as it had already for schools and colleges.
Source: Good Early Years Provision for All: A Report on the Responses to the Consultation, HMI 130196, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills
Notes: Consultation document (April 2013)
A think-tank report examined evidence on the benefits of high-quality early years education, and the policies that had been successful in improving standards in the UK and abroad.
Source: Imogen Parker, Early Developments: Bridging the gap between evidence and policy in early-years education, Institute for Public Policy Research
The Welsh Government published a 10-year plan designed to close the gap between the most and least disadvantaged children, focusing on childrens and family services for children aged 0-7. It promised more support and encouragement for parents to be involved in their childrens learning, and the development of a more consistent approach to tracking a childs development.
Source: Building a Brighter Future: Early years and childcare plan, Welsh Government
A report examined how structural aspects of childcare and early education provision affected the longer-term educational achievement of children in 15 developed (OECD) countries plus the United Kingdom.
Source: Chris Pascal, Tony Bertram, Sean Delaney, and Carol Nelson, A Comparison of International Childcare Systems, Research Report 269, Department for Education
A report summarized a set of five papers that examined the policies of the former Labour government (1997-2010), charting their impact on the distribution of outcomes, and on poverty and inequality. Labour had set out an ambitious agenda to improve outcomes overall, narrow socio-economic gaps, and modernize public services:
Public spending went up from 39.5 to 47.4 per cent of national income. This was a large rise: but until the 2008 global crisis, spending levels were unexceptional by historic standards.
The extra spending went mainly on services. Health and education both increased as a proportion of all public spending.
Nearly all the extra cash spent on benefits went on children and pensioners. Benefits for working-age people unrelated to having children fell as a proportion of national income.
Access and quality in public services improved, including waiting times for health services and pupil-teacher ratios.
Outcomes improved and gaps closed on virtually all the socio-economic indicators targeted, such as poverty for children and pensioners, and school attainment.
But there was no progress in some areas that were not subject to explicit targets: poverty for working-age people without children rose; there was no real change in levels of income inequality; and disparities in regional economic performance persisted.
Source: Ruth Lupton (with John Hills, Kitty Stewart, and Polly Vizard), Labours Social Policy Record: Policy, spending and outcomes 1997-2010, Social Policy in a Cold Climate Research Report 1, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (London School of Economics)
Notes: Details of individual papers:
Polly Vizard and Polina Obolenskaya, Labours Record on Health (1997-2010), Social Policy in a Cold Climate Working Paper 2
Ruth Lupton and Polina Obolenskaya, Labours Record on Education: Policy, Spending and Outcomes 1997-2010, Social Policy in a Cold Climate Working Paper 3
Kitty Stewart, Labours Record on the Under Fives: Policy, Spending and Outcomes 1997-2010, Social Policy in a Cold Climate Working Paper 4
John Hills, Labours Record on Cash Transfers, Poverty, Inequality and the Lifecycle 1997-2010, Social Policy in a Cold Climate Working Paper 5
Ruth Lupton, Alex Fenton, and Amanda Fitzgerald, Labours Record on Neighbourhood Renewal in England: Policy, Spending and Outcomes 1997-2010, Social Policy in a Cold Climate Working Paper 6
A report provided an overview of early childhood education and care provision in Scotland, England, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Slovenia, France, and the Netherlands. It considered national frameworks, guiding principles and objectives, governance, types of services, types of providers, funding and costs, systems of quality assurance, and access levels.
Source: Ingela Naumann, Caitlin McLean, Alison Koslowski, Kay Tisdall, and Eva Lloyd, Early Childhood Education and Care Provision: International Review of Policy, Delivery and Funding, Scottish Government
The Scottish Government published the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill. Children aged 3-4 would be entitled to 600 hours of funded early learning and childcare (up from 475 hours) as would looked-after children aged 2, and those with a kinship care order. Every child and young person would have a named person from birth responsible for safeguarding their well-being, working with other bodies as required. Kinship carers would be provided with more support from local authorities.
Source: Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill, Scottish Government, TSO
The inspectorate for education and children's services began consultation on changes to the inspection framework aimed at improving the quality of early years provision. Inspection evidence had shown that nurseries, pre-schools, and childminders were not improving quickly enough. Almost 22 per cent of the places available in the sector were in services that were not yet rated as 'good'. Poor-quality early years care and education was a particular problem in the most deprived areas. From September 2013, only a 'good' or better standard of early years provision would be deemed acceptable.
Source: Good Early Years Provision for All, HMI 130133, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills
A paper examined how the quality of formal early childhood education and care in England was associated with children's background. Children from a disadvantaged background had access to better-qualified staff: but services catering for more disadvantaged children were more segregated and receive lower ratings from the national inspectorate.
Source: Ludovica Gambaro, Kitty Stewart, and Jane Waldfogel, A Question of Quality: Do children from disadvantaged backgrounds receive lower quality early years education and care in England?, CASEpaper 117, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (London School of Economics)
Researchers examined outcomes at age 5 of an early education pilot for children aged 2, and whether there were any longer-term benefits for the children who took part in the pilot. They also considered whether children who took part in the pilot had been more likely to take up early education when they were aged 3 or 4. In neither case was any evidence found for positive benefits from the pilot.
Source: Ruth Maisey, Svetlana Speight, and Vicky Marsh (with Dan Philo), The Early Education Pilot for Two Year Old Children: Age Five Follow-Up, Research Report 225, Department for Education
The coalition government began consultation on proposals to reform the role of English local authorities in early education and childcare. It proposed to limit the extra conditions that local authorities could place on private, voluntary, and independent providers in order for them to qualify for funding to deliver places; and to remove the duty on local authorities to secure information, advice, and training for childcare providers.
Source: Consultation on Proposed Changes to the Role of the Local Authority in Early Education and Childcare, Department for Education
Links: Consultation document
A new book examined the impact of changing assessment policy on primary school classrooms, with a particular focus on issues of inequality. Drawing on accounts of life in early years classrooms, it said that a specific model of the good learner operated, and that this model worked to exclude some groups of students from positions of educational success.
Source: Alice Bradbury, Understanding Early Years Inequality: Policy, assessment and young children's identities, Routledge
A think-tank report highlighted the inequality in government-funded nursery provision for pre-school children, and called for a simple change to the system that would make it fair and equal. Nursery education should begin at a fixed point in the year, rather than when a child reached the age of 3.
Source: Ben Thomson, Geoff Mawdsley, and Alison Payne, An Equal Start: Fair access to nursery provision, Reform Scotland
The coalition government published its proposals (in response to the Nutbrown review) for achieving a more professional early years workforce in England, and improving the quality of provision. Nurseries and childminders in England would be allowed to look after more children, provided carers' qualifications met new standards. Ratios for children aged 2 would rise from 4 children per adult to 6; and for children aged 1 or under from 3 children per adult to 4.
Source: More Great Childcare: Raising quality and giving parents more choice, Department for Education
Links: Report | Consultation document | Hansard | DE press release | Speech | Action for Children press release | CBI press release | Childrens Society press release | 4Children press release | FPI/Daycare Trust press release | Gingerbread press release | IEA blog post | Labour Party press release | NAHT press release | NASUWT press release | NCMA press release | NDNA press release | NUT press release | TUC press release | BBC report | Guardian report | New Scientist report | Nursery World report (1) | Nursery World report (2) | Public Finance report
Notes: Nutbrown report