Select Committee on Education and Employment First Report


1.We recommend that the Government should develop a Parents' Charter to be visible in every Early Years setting which affirms the centrality of the parent in the development and education of their child and welcomes them as vital educators of their children (paragraph 17).
2.We recommend that the Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships should make the necessary resources available to support parental participation in Early Years activities (paragraph 18).
3.Parents should be involved in helping practitioners to draw up individual profiles of their children to help the process of planning for their learning. We recommend that the DfEE should develop new forms of developmental profile at entry to school which would include parents' own contributions to assessment and planning (paragraph 19).
4.We recommend that there should be more support given through the health, social services and education services working together to provide assistance to parents. We recommend that the Government should work with BBC Online and other innovative providers to produce appropriate programmes on parenting (paragraph 20).
5.The physical security of the children being looked after should never be compromised (paragraph 23).
6.We endorse the DfEE's recommendation that childminders should attend a recognised childminder's course within six months of starting childminding and that regular in-service courses should continue to be a part of every childminder's programme (paragraph 26).
7.We recommend that no childminder should be allowed to smack any child in their care (paragraph 27).
8.We recommend that no childminder should be permitted to smoke in the presence of any child in their care (paragraph 28).
9.We recommend that the years from birth to five plus should be viewed as the first phase of education, in which the involvement of families and parents will be crucial. Since education and care are inseparable, there should be a universal service under the leadership of a single Government Department (paragraph 33).
10.We recommend that Government funding should be made available to support the sharing of best practice and learning from the experience of the Sure Start centres (paragraph 34).
11.We recommend that there should be substantially increased Government support for, and investment in, integrated initiatives like Sure Start and Early Excellence Centres (paragraph 42).
12.We recommend that the evidence from comprehensive evaluations of Early Excellence and Sure Start should be used actively within Government across Departments to support and promote the further development of integrated policy and practice under the leadership of one Department (paragraph 43).
13.We recommend that the adult:child ratio should be no more than fifteen-to-one in Reception and Year 1(paragraph 44).
14.We recommend that children below compulsory school age should be taught informally in ways that are appropriate to their developmental stage and their interests. We recommend that in Reception and Year 1 classes there should be fifteen or fewer children for each member of staff working with the children in the class (paragraph 51).
15.We support the approach in the Curriculum Guidance issued by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority that more structured learning should be introduced very gradually so that, by the end of the Reception year, children are learning through more formal, whole class activities for a small proportion of the day (paragraph 52).
16.We recommend that training for the Reception Year should be moved out of Key Stage 1 training and into the training for the Foundation Stage (paragraph 53).
17.We recommend that initial and in­service training programmes for Early Years practitioners should emphasise the skills and knowledge necessary to both involve and support family members. We recommend that the Teacher Training Agency and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority should emphasise in their guidance and the teacher training syllabus the skills for working with adults as well as those for teaching young children (paragraph 54).
18.Many of those giving evidence argued that the age of school entry was less important than the kind of curriculum and teaching young children encounter when they enter statutory schooling (paragraph 57).
19.We recommend that the Government should review the limitations in practice on the operation of parents' choice for entry to primary school, to ensure that the needs of children to be placed in appropriate settings are paramount (paragraph 58).
20.We recommend that the compulsory age of school entry should remain at the term after the child's fifth birthday; and the Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage should be fully implemented in primary schools to ensure that children receive the style of education appropriate to their stage of development (paragraph 60).
21.We recommend that baseline assessment should be moved to the start of Year 1 (paragraph 63).
22.We support the Qualification and Curriculum Authority's Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage, which illustrates rather than imposes stepping stones for a child to progress from the age of three to the end of the foundation stage (paragraph 68).
23.We recognise that the scale of the challenge in the Guidance to practitioners, who will need to have imagination and flexibility to enable children to learn in ways appropriate to their developmental stage (paragraph 69).
24.We recommend that training to assist practitioners to enhance children's personal, social and emotional development should be supported by the DfEE (paragraph 70).
25.We recommend that innovative practice in ways to foster children's personal, social and emotional development should be disseminated widely through the Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships (paragraph 71).
26.We recommend that the Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships should expand training opportunities, particularly in the voluntary and private sector, to enhance the level of teaching skill, including planning and assessment (paragraph 74).
27.We recommend that every setting that is inspected by OFSTED should have such areas available to the children. We recommend that if necessary the DfEE should make specific grants to Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships to make this provision possible and should assist settings in receipt of grant also to pursue other sources of funding, such as the New Opportunities Fund (paragraph 87).
28.We recommend that the funding of Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships should be increased to enable children who have no opportunity for outdoor play, to have safe and secure facilities regularly available to them so that they can play and learn outdoors as well as indoors (paragraph 88).
29.We recommend that Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships in relatively disadvantaged urban areas should plan to provide a range of outdoor experiences appropriate to the age of the children including, for example, visits to urban farms, the countryside, woodland and the seaside, where the environment is used by skilled practitioners to instruct, stimulate and expand the imagination of children (paragraph 89).
30.We recommend that as a long term vision the DfEE should foster the creation and development of a ladder of training for Early Years practitioners which could lead to a graduate qualification equivalent to that of qualified teachers (paragraph 97).
31.We recommend that every setting outside a home which offers early education should have a trained teacher on its staff. Trained teachers should also be involved in the networks which support childminders looking after children in the Foundation Stage (paragraph 99).
32.We recommend that Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships should publish regular surveys of the costs of childcare in their local authority areas, as well as surveys of the typical rates of pay in their area for different categories of practitioners in the Early Years sector (paragraph 100).
33.We recommend that the Government with the Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships should adopt an objective of ensuring equitable pay and conditions for all categories of practitioners across all settings in the Early Years sector (paragraph 101).
34.We urge the DfEE to examine the reasons for the low recruitment of men into the Early Years sector and to make strenuous efforts to address the imbalance in the Early Years workforce (paragraph 102).
35.We welcome the national recruitment campaign, led by the DfEE, for Early Years staff, including Early Years teachers, and we recommend that particular efforts should be made to attract men as part of this campaign (paragraph 103).
36.We recommend that there should be continued Government investment in training at all levels in the Early Years sector (paragraph 115).
37.We recommend that there should be national targets for training so that within ten years all Early Years practitioners have appropriate and specialist levels of training, with all heads of centres, nurseries and playgroups being at graduate level or equivalent and all other early childhood workers at NVQ Level 3 or equivalent (paragraph 116).
38.We recommend that all training should be adequately funded, and in particular, that there should be Government grants for mature and part-time students, and better support for those following NVQs (paragraph 117).
39.We recommend that all early childhood workers should have access to continuous professional development as of right. Qualified Early Years teachers should visit the settings outside the home to work alongside practitioners to assist their professional development (paragraph 118).
40.We recommend that further education, higher education and other training institutions should develop more flexible training options (such as distance learning, workplace training and modularised training), to increase access across the sectors (paragraph 119).
41.We recommend that Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships should provide positive leadership and financial support to make training more accessible and affordable for the private and voluntary sectors (paragraph 120).
42.We recommend that higher education institutions, in conjunction with the Teacher Training Agency, should develop Early Years training options at higher levels (postgraduate) to enhance the Early Years trainer work force. We recommend that the Teacher Training Agency should sponsor places on Early Years postgraduate courses (paragraph 121).
43.We recommend that the Early Years National Training Organisation should take a strong lead in the dissemination of the new Early Years qualifications 'climbing frame' to ensure that employers and parents understand what the range of qualifications mean (paragraph 122).
44.We recommend that the OFSTED's Director of Early Years should have substantial experience of the care and education of young children. In our view it is also essential that there should be a strong element of both Early Years experience of education and care within the team (paragraph 129).
45.In our view OFSTED should recognise that the manner of inspection should a change from the current climate of extreme stress in schools both before and during an OFSTED inspection to one of support (paragraph 130).
46.We recommend that the inspection should include the self evaluation undertaken in the setting, so that it will be more effective in improving the quality of provision (paragraph 131).
47.We expect to subject the performance of the OFSTED Early Years Director to regular scrutiny as part of the accountability of OFSTED to Parliament, specifically to this Select Committee (paragraph 132).
48.We recommend that the Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships should continue to be supported in every way, but particularly in the consistent training for members and Chairs (paragraph 140).
49.We recommend that all Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships should work towards establishing an independent Chair who is acceptable to all members (paragraph 141).
50.We recommend that quality should be monitored closely by the DfEE where Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships are not working well and that these Partnerships should be identified, supported and have the opportunity to observe and emulate good practice where it already exists (paragraph 142).
51.We recommend that every meeting of a Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership should be open and that members of the public should be invited and encouraged to attend (paragraph 143).
52.We recommend that the increased Government investment in early education and care should be sustained over a long-term period (paragraph 149).
53.We recommend that those responsible in the DfEE should continue to review the relative fairness of access to funding for places, staff, resources, capital, and training across the sectors in the Early Years (paragraph 150).
54.We recommend that the long-term aim of DfEE Early Years funding policy should be to ensure the development of a diverse and innovative pre-school sector which meets the need of children and parents in all situations (paragraph 151).
55. We recommend that the advances in knowledge about brain development should be kept under examination by DfEE-funded researchers in the education field so that Early Years policy is kept up to date and consistent with the available scientific evidence (paragraph 155).

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