Our core values
Early Education believes that
• Every child has the right to the highest quality early childhood education and care (ECEC), and that the rights of the child as set out in the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child, are paramount
• Parents and the wider community should all be involved: an active partnership should be encouraged throughout the education process
• Practitioners need to feel valued and respected for their professionalism with continuous opportunity for inspired in-service training based on research-led evidence from their own work.
Our call for action
We call on all political parties across the UK to commit to the following actions, based on the accumulated body of research evidence and expert practice within the early years sector:
1. Ensure understanding of child development in theory and practice underpins teaching, learning and policy in early years. Policy which neglects this understanding, in favour of the imposition of a pedagogy more suitable for older children, risks adversely affecting children's outcomes in the long term
2. Develop an inclusive approach to ECEC which ensures all children have equal access to high quality provision which respects the rights of each child to have their unique needs met in the context of their particular family.
3. Work towards achieving a more representative workforce which better reflects the population as a whole, including in terms of ethnicity and gender balance.
4. Ensure commitments to the expansion of funded early education are based on realistic plans for sufficient high quality places to be available, as research shows that only high quality places will successfully combat the effects of early disadvantage.
5. Ensure funding mechanisms recognise the real costs of high quality provision, including the cost of a suitably qualified workforce, led by teachers and graduate practitioners with specialist early years expertise. Ensure such expertise is available to all settings, including schools and private/voluntary sector settings.
6. Publicly recognise that maintained nursery schools provide high quality education as supported by evidence based research (eg EPPSE) and OFSTED reports and ensure a strategic approach to maintaining the funding of the remaining maintained nursery schools to ensure they are able to provide for the children's ongoing high achievement in education and to act as beacons of excellence for the sector.
7. Ensure there is expert Early Years pedagogic advice, support and training consistently available to providers, either by restoring the statutory duty on local authorities to deliver this or by a universally available alternative
8. Recognise the crucial importance of the environment, and ensure all early years settings are required to provide appropriate indoor and outdoor space.
In England, we also call for the following issues to be addressed:
9. Abandon proposals for baseline assessments at the start of Reception, in recognition of the serious concerns expressed by the sector about the suitability and effectiveness of the current proposals and retain the statutory basis of the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile to ensure consistent national data is available to track outcomes.
10. Reconsider moves to make Ofsted the sole arbiter of quality in the light of Ofsted’s proposals not to inspect new settings for up to 30 months after opening, to ensure local authorities are not forced to fund early education for 2, 3 and 4 year olds in uninspected provision
11. Move towards all staff included in ratios being qualified to a robust level 3 qualification or above and all Early Years Teachers having Qualified Teacher Status
12. Fund Children’s Centres to provide universal services for the 0-5 age range, with targeting of additional resources to children and families most in need of additional help
In Scotland, we also call for government to address the following issues:
1. The impact of longer contact hours for children has significantly reduced the time for team meetings, discussion, planning and record keeping. High quality depends on these as well as the interactions with children. Adequate time for planning, preparation and administration must be built into contracts.
2. Moderation of the entry requirements, content and quality of the BA Early Childhood Studies degrees to improve on the current situation where the knowledge and understanding as well as levels of experience of graduates seem to vary greatly depending on who provided the degree.
In Wales we welcome many of the commitments in the draft 10-year plan for the early years, childcare and play workforce in Wales, including the aspiration to raise the qualifications and status of the workforce.
What we will do
In support of these aims, we:
• have endorsed the Early Childhood Forum (ECF)’s Charter for Early Childhood
• are working with TACTYC: the Association for the Professional Development of Early Years Educators and ECF to campaign against baseline assessment
• are working with the National Campaign for Real Nursery Education (NCRNE) to campaign to protect the remaining maintained nursery schools, and building the evidence base to support our case
• will engage in dialogue with all political parties and key officials to encourage them to understand and act on our concerns, and will seek out opportunities to influence ECEC policy positively across the UK
• will support early childhood practitioners in developing principled high-quality pedagogical practice, and promote and disseminate best practice and research evidence on ECEC