Liz Truss and aimless toddlers

(227 Posts)
BoffinMum Sun 21-Apr-13 23:22:27

So, Liz Truss reckons toddlers are running around pointlessly in too many nurseries. She says it's due to lack of structure in miseries.

Anyone spotted this happening?

BoffinMum Sun 21-Apr-13 23:22:58

IPhone typo - nurseries.

sillyoldfool Mon 22-Apr-13 00:11:09

Don't toddlers generally spend most their time running around 'pointlessly'?
Mine do, but if you look closely they're experimenting and learning. I don't think toddlers need structure, they need freedom to explore.

Startail Mon 22-Apr-13 00:19:49

DD1 didn't run around aimlessly at nursery, she very purposely climbed things. Trouble was these were tables to raid the main craft store and the junior schools wall bars.

(The teacher was lovely, and very diplomatic. Reading between the lines DD1 was a grade A pain)

WouldBeHarrietVane Mon 22-Apr-13 00:23:27

She used nannies herself. Don't think she knows much about nurseries

MajaBiene Mon 22-Apr-13 00:26:05

I have experience one pretty poor nursery where the toddlers (under 2s) did indeed run around pointless - playing with toys/bashing each other. Most nurseries have a variety of opportunities for inside/outside play and activities on offer though.

BoffinMum Mon 22-Apr-13 07:57:31

I imagine that's very much the exception than the rule. I am tempted to ask her exactly which nurseries this is, and how many.

Littleturkish Mon 22-Apr-13 08:03:19

Utter nonsense. Does she have French friends who slag down British nurseries?? What an odd comparison to make.

Children go to nursery from as young as 6 weeks- her comments were too general to be taken seriously. She's meant to be the minister of child care and she doesn't even give the impression she knows what she's talking about!

BoffinMum Mon 22-Apr-13 08:18:01

I think she has probably seen two duff ones on a wet day and is generalising from something like that. There are data out there and they don't support what she is arguing. In fact the rest of the world spends a lot of time looking at our nursery provision and liking what's there (apart from the cost).

lljkk Mon 22-Apr-13 08:18:02

The irony is that the govt. solution to this so-called problem will be to insist on even more paperwork to document a lack of aimless wandering; more paperwork = less time for staff to actually sit interacting with the children.


BoffinMum Mon 22-Apr-13 08:19:55

Are we going to call her on this, ask her to give precise details of her evidence for this assertion?

Littleturkish Mon 22-Apr-13 08:20:55

Lljkk exactly!

And she was the one to up the ratios reducing interaction!

BoffinMum Mon 22-Apr-13 08:21:05

Maja, was this a chain nursery or privately run? How big was it, and what was its Ofsted grading?

chocolatecrispies Mon 22-Apr-13 08:36:00

It's not clear from this thread whether you are discussing Childcare for the under-3s so their parents can work, or nursery provision for 3-4 year olds - they are completely different. Maybe the government hasn't noticed?

dribbleface Mon 22-Apr-13 09:50:14

Here she goes again, honestly the woman needs sacking. If she continues there will be no-one left in early years. Has she any idea how young children learn?

MajaBiene Mon 22-Apr-13 10:01:49

Private, satisfactory ofsted, smallish (maybe 40 kids in total).

dribbleface Mon 22-Apr-13 10:07:26

Satisfactory = not meeting the eyfs in one or more areas. Not suprised in that case.

PetiteRaleuse Mon 22-Apr-13 10:08:05

I don't now how things are done in the UK, but I know that in my French nursery it is very structured. Organised play but also classroom type activities, set nap times etc. If you happen to go in during classroom type activities it is spookily quiet. During the play time though sounds like, well, a room full of toddlers. DD1 was in the 18 month to 3yr group (after that they start school)

Can't compare with the UK though as I have never been in a nursery there. As I suspect Truss hasn't been in all that many in both contries either.

dribbleface Mon 22-Apr-13 10:08:10

* surprised

dribbleface Mon 22-Apr-13 10:09:47

Trouble is petite the eyfs would frown on that sort of structure.

PetiteRaleuse Mon 22-Apr-13 10:15:03

Possibly. I quite liked it. There was lots of creativity and art work - when DD left she came back with binders full of tat the stuff. Lots of songs and stories, just in a classroom setting. I think though that the staff:child ratio is different in France - they have more children to look after - so maybe more structure is needed.

kelda Mon 22-Apr-13 10:21:42

I have no experience of UK nurseries.

My children are all going through the Belgium school education system, and it is very structured right from age two and a half. Many children will have attended a creche from a very young age (3 or 4 months) which is also very structured.

That does not mean that they do not play. In fact they spend most of their time playing. They are not expected to learn to read and write until age six.

But from a very young age, they are taught how to listen, how to follow instructions, how to walk along the pavement holding each others hands.

All the nursery school teachers are graduate trained and there is a ratio of about 1/20 or 1/24. There are no teaching assistants although the classes do share a care assistant if a child needs help with the toilet.

It is noticable in Belgium how well behaved school children are. It's common to see large groups of very small children walking along the pavement with just one adult per 20 children or so.

The children are trained from a very young age to do are they are told and to follow the 'pack'. They are expected to go to the toilet when they are told, to sit down and sing when they are told, to line up when they are told. They are taught to be polite. At lunchtime, they are not encouraged to talk while eating. The children play and make crafts, but it is very much the teacher who is in charge. There are long breaktimes and long school holidays.

I am sure that this system would not work for all children, but my children have all coped fine. They have thrived in the structure and have all enjoyed school. A critisism of the system is that it does not encourage individuality. But most children I know attend many out of school activies (or not!) to express their individuality.

If a child has extra needs, there may be special learning support for them - we are in the process of applying for this for my child who has mild SN.

PetiteRaleuse Mon 22-Apr-13 10:23:53

Sounds very similar to France kelda

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 22-Apr-13 10:25:14

Link to the guardian coverage of this

It seems to be in the daily mail originally.

I probably fail as a parent. I work full time, but my 2yo weekends can pretty much be summed up as "running around with no sense of purpose". Is she supposed to have purpose instead of just playing in the garden or whatever that takes her fancy?

kelda Mon 22-Apr-13 10:28:00

Yes it is. They all come home with tons of amazing craftwork.

I am in awe of the teachers who not only manage to organise and control 23 or 24 two and three year olds (many of whom, like my son, do require extra help), but also manage to help them create some quite complex artwork, singing, theatre, sports.

piprabbit Mon 22-Apr-13 10:33:43

My DCs used to run around with a huge sense of purpose when they were toddlers. Just because an adult briefly observing them might not immediately be able to spot what the purpose was, doesn't mean that my DCs didn't have a purpose, nor that they were not working hard to fulfill that purpose.
There is a difference between a small child working purposefully on something that interests them and a small child having a purpose imposed on them by adults. And I know which sort led to the most interesting questions and learning opportunities.

I find the most recent 'ideas' from Gove and Truss to have no foundation in how children learn, quite repulsive when you consider these people have responsibility for shaping childcare and education.

kelda Mon 22-Apr-13 10:38:37

Oh my children have plenty of time to run around aimlessly. Long and regular breaktimes at school, and long school holidays. Not to mention all the other times they are at home.

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 22-Apr-13 10:40:46

Well, it's actually nothing impressive that you could get 3 year olds sit at a desk and do school work. I grew up in an east asian country (the ones which Gove admires supposedly) and I started school at 3. I don't know what it is like now. But in the 70s, it was three years of kindegarten which was basically prep school for a year 1 primary entrance exam. I remembered clearly we had to sit at a desk, in a pair, facing a blackboard with a teacher. I remembered standing and queueing to get into our classrooms. I also remembered sitting my primary entrance exam. My mum always reminded how smart we were that we could tell a simple story in two languages and also add numbers to above 10 for the entrance exam. (My mum is a teacher so we were well trained). Last year I went to visit my mum with my DD. I noticed there are many classes science, maths, music and language classes etc for toddlers from about 18mo.

Then I moved to NZ when I was in secondary. Honestly, I don't think my kiwi peers are academically disadvantaged at all. We could do their maths maybe 2-3 years ahead just because we had been drilled on it. But we aren't any smarter. By the time we are in the NZ system for a few years, many of my east asian friends are overtaken by native kiwis in exams.

I'm biased, and I'd rather my DD be out in the garden climbing a frame and pushing a wheelbarrow then sitting down and learn her numbers.

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 22-Apr-13 10:43:09

I went to a different kindergarten than my primary. I have school reports from my kindy. I have seen pictures of me in the kindy uniforms and I even have vague memories of the kindy when I googled its web page. That's why I'm fairly certain they aren't memories of my primary years.

kelda Mon 22-Apr-13 10:44:24

Is she advocating school work for three year olds?

As with many continental countries, my children won't start learning to read and write and do maths until they are age 6. We are actively encouraged NOT to teach them to read and write before they start reading and writing in school.

I am regularly open mouthed when I read on mumsnet about parents worrying that their four year olds are struggling to learn to read.

MajaBiene Mon 22-Apr-13 10:48:50

I think there is a cultural difference between what we expect in early years in the UK compared to France/Belgium. Here we like nursery children to have a great deal of freedom to follow their particular interests, make choices, have constant access to the outside, we want the staff to know them well as individuals and plan activities and experiences around them. The idea of 20+ children with one teacher, being controlled and disciplined and producing artwork is at odds with our philosophy I think.

kelda Mon 22-Apr-13 10:51:57

MajaBiene if it is at odds with the UK philosophy, then why are UK children expected to learn to read and write at a far younger age?

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 22-Apr-13 10:52:20

kelda I don't think she said it in this interview. But she did advocate teaching reading and writing in nursery.

A quick google found

which links to

It makes sense when you think that's why she wants nursery teachers to have english and maths qualifications.

MajaBiene Mon 22-Apr-13 10:54:53

kelda at the moment they aren't expected to read and write in nursery (unless they are interested in doing so).

kelda Mon 22-Apr-13 10:58:33

That leads to the question, until what age is nursery school? Nursery/kleuter school in Belgium is until the year that the child is six.

What age do children start reading and writing in the UK? In Belgium it is the year that they are six.

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 22-Apr-13 10:59:42

kelda I remembered visiting DD's current nursery and they told me one of the achievements they have is most of their kids can recognise their names when they leave for reception. (ie 4-5). I don't think they teach the pre-schoolers to read other than at this level. This doesn't stop pushy parents doing phonics with their preschoolers though. One of the mums in my NCT group is talking about phonics already and my DD has just turned 2.

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 22-Apr-13 11:00:47

kelda in my county, they start primary school in the year they turn 4. It's much earlier than Belgium. It should put more what Liz Truss is saying into context.

DorisIsWaiting Mon 22-Apr-13 11:03:13

Kelda my dd3 (3.10) has been learning phonics sounds at preschool. she can just about blend together 3 letter cvc words. This has all come from changes to teachjing at pre-school as the older 2 dd's learnt when they got to school at 4.5 and 4. 2 yo.

MajaBiene Mon 22-Apr-13 11:17:26

Children start primary school the September after their 4th birthday, and that is the year they begin to learn reading and writing.

Doris - there hasn't been changes to make it necessary to teach phonics in nursery, it is up to the individual setting/staff to decide if a child is interested or ready.

nannynick Mon 22-Apr-13 11:22:01

Even in the 70's we had structured pre-school. More adult guided back then. These days they want children to guide themselves, free access to resources. LT now saying no more access to resources and going back to adult led?

MajaBiene Mon 22-Apr-13 11:27:55

The problem is, high quality, child-led, small groups, graduate staff (all stuff we want and know is good for children) requires high adult to child ratios and is expensive.

To get cheap childcare we need more kids and fewer adults. Truss is trying to persuade us that actually everything we thought was important isn't. Instead of adults knowing their key children really well and planning individually, 1 adult and 20 children is fine (cheap) and we just need more control, more structure, less free play, less personal attention,

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 22-Apr-13 11:33:21

Maja you basically summed up very well what I think Truss is trying to say. And what I'm very against. The idea of having teachers leading a large group of toddlers doing very controlled, structured 'school' type nursery. I just don't believe it's right for babies and toddlers.

MajaBiene Mon 22-Apr-13 11:40:25

It just feels a bit like storing children to me. I don't just want DS to be safe, contained and occupied while I am at work, I want him to really enjoy his time at nursery. He's a child who has no interest at all (at the moment) in sitting down and producing art work - he likes riding bikes, digging in the sandpit, building train tracks and counting things. He goes to an excellent nursery and I am so glad that they are building on his interests and letting him explore the things he loves rather than trying to make him sit down and make a Mother's Day card to bring home or whatever (although they have had some success in letting him paint with trains grin).

They just have so much time for sitting still, going to the toilet when told, following instructions, doing what everyone else is doing through the rest of their school (and work) life. It would be nice if at the age of 2 or 3 they could be individuals for a while.

I just get the impression that she thinks toddlers are just so untidy. You know, running around, doing stuff all the time. They're probably not even quiet! They might not have proper table manners! What in heaven are these nurseries doing... shock

Bah. I fucking hate when politicians make unfounded and ill-informed announcements without any real grounding other than "that's the way I think things should be, so there". It's not based on research. It's just trying to get kids to conform and stifle their individualism and open-heartedness earlier and earlier. What next? Longer hours in school and shorter holidays? Oh, wait...

BoffinMum Mon 22-Apr-13 11:53:31

I think you can structure a bit of the time, for example you can make sure the kids all have a go at that day's art/baking/music project or whatever, and obviously you need to structure meal and nap times, as well as toilet times, or it would be complete mayhem. Then you can structure on the basis of whether they are learning inside or outside, whether they are in mixed age groups or in separate rooms, and so on. In addition you need to make sure at some point that they all have the basic skills for school, which are very simple IMO and include:

How to hold a book and navigate pictures and a few letters/simple words (quite different from 'reading' of 'phonics').

How to turn on a computer/iPad and use very basic software.

How to deal with being thwarted by other children without completely losing it.

How to take turns and line up patiently.

How to address teacher type people.

How to get coats and shoes on and off.

How to sort, count and order things (pre-maths).

How to hold a crayon or fat pencil so you get a good result.

How to paint without flinging paint everywhere.

How to help clear up.

How to ask for help if you wet your pants.

How to eat your lunch without making a fuss.

How to get out if there is a fire alarm without panicking.

How to concentrate on one thing for about 10-15 minutes without running off.

How to recognise your name on a peg or drawer (bonus points for being able to sign it in a card).

Now if every child in the land managed all this, I am sure Reception teachers would feel they were well served. I am of the mindset that this is just about all you can usefully teach them, as the rest is very dependent on whether they are ready to learn it. You can offer instruction in other things to kids who are bored or asking to do things, but it is completely immaterial whether they 'succeed' as nearly all the time they will crack it by age 6 or 7 anyway.

Weighing babies does not make them grow. ;.)

oldtoys Mon 22-Apr-13 11:56:57

i think she meant that nurseries should be training kids in the 'basics' of manners/good sharing/waiting your turn/learning to sit still etc while still allowing sessions of free play exploration etc

so that when they get to school, the schoolteacher doesnt spend her time on behavioural issues, and can spend more time teaching

I think that's what she meant. Who knows though.

MajaBiene Mon 22-Apr-13 12:01:06

I have never been in a nursery that doesn't put lots of emphasis on saying please and thankyou, turn taking and sharing, getting coats and shoes on and off (especially where there is free flow indoor/outdoor play), sitting still during snacks/meals/circle time (for the older children).

Squarepebbles Mon 22-Apr-13 12:31:01

Problem is 2 year olds should be running around exploring,to limit that is to not facilitate their needs however high numbers of toddlers running around isn't beneficial.

Soooo they need to cut ratios(they're doing the opposite), encourage the use of a nanny (like she has)or childminder(they're not) or support parents to be able to care for their own children for longer(again they're doing the opposite).

The stupidity of the woman is scary.

Squarepebbles Mon 22-Apr-13 12:32:34

Expecting a 2 year old to wait it's turn in a family environment is a whole different scenario to a 2 year old in a large group of 2 year olds.

They are babies.

AmberSocks Mon 22-Apr-13 12:37:05

imo kids need more time spent running around aimlessly,i some of the nurseries i visited when looking for a place(was looking for 1 day a week for my 2 boys to give me a break after the birth of my daughter,just gave up on the idea eventually as none of them seemed any good) there seemed to be too much structure to me,but then some people seem to like that.

Personally i dont think its good for children(anyone really but esp kids)to have every moment of their lives structured,its boring and it makes thing too predictable and stops them learning spontaneously.

My God, does this woman have responsibility for education and child-care in our country (along with Gove obvs) ? And she has this little idea about how young children learn ? and about the existing requirements and provision of the EYFS, about research in children's learning, and Ofsted assessment of different pre-schools ?

Does she really think in her position it's acceptable to say "Oh I went to a nursery the other day and the children were terribly noisy and running around everywhere - I can't imagine them learning anything when it's like that. Surely they should all be sitting at tables learning to read and write, then if we start earlier maybe we can catch up with those Scandinavian countries .... oh wait, they don't start formal education til 7 ? Still, if we do we could get a head start on them !!"

I paraphrase slightly grin

There is so little understanding in this country of how young children learn through play, and how those working with them can support this learning and development.

Quite shocking shock

Squarepebbles Mon 22-Apr-13 12:45:27

Oh and French children are raised differently to British kids- smacking is used more(I presume not in nursery grin ) .I hate this constant comparison to other nations. Our country is far smaller and highly populated,kids don't have a lot of free space in the home environment, our culture is different......

One use does not fit all re raising children.

Squarepebbles Mon 22-Apr-13 12:45:43


Don't you think it's quite helpful to see how things are done in other countries Pebble ? I think the Scandinavian countries have some very inspirational practice we can draw on to develop high quality early years education and child-care in this country for benefit of children, mothers, and families.

No need to re-invent the wheel !

FunnysInLaJardin Mon 22-Apr-13 12:53:15

not sure if this point has been made yet, but you do all know that this is just a ruse to show how her new policy on ratios is badly needed, don't you?

PetiteRaleuse Mon 22-Apr-13 12:54:02

squarepebbles I agree, French children are raised differently, in a way that fits in with the education system here. And that suits France. It isn't better, or worse, just different. The British education system allows for far more creativity and a little less structure (or it did when I went through it) so it is logical that pre school ed is different.

(no smacking in nurseries or schools though in France. Lots of explaining why what they did was wrong and possibly excluded from group for a short period to think on it. Time out, basically.)

PetiteRaleuse Mon 22-Apr-13 12:55:14

That said it is useful to know what others do and pinch and adapt certain things which could work well.

Or to make it look as though of course nurseries could cope with one adult to a hundred children shock if only they got themselves organised and introduced some structure Jardin ?!

50shadesofvomit Mon 22-Apr-13 12:58:20

Does Liz Truss have kids? This sound bite as well as the recent Gove idea of longer school days and less holidays make me wonder if they know any kids and what makes kids tick?

In my experience nurseries teach manners etc and rather than making the NC more rigid as Gove suggests, they should be encouraging more free play etc in KS1 and beyond. If the government wants to improve behaviour etc it should be training and giving nurseries and schools money to identify special needs earlier so parents don't have to fight for help. Im no expert on SN but I would guess that the earlier you help a child, the more likely intervention is likely to be successful. Also, the reduction in child development checks must mean more kids falling through the cracks and arriving at nursery/school behind in basics like speech.

Squarepebbles Mon 22-Apr-13 13:00:52

There are starting to be concerns re the Scandinavian model- behaviour issues in older children,school standards slipping etc.

We have hoards of experts re early years in our own country there is absolutely no need to cut and paste from other countries. I think it's actually damaging as countries will differ in circumstances,culture,finances etc,etc.

slatternlymother Mon 22-Apr-13 13:02:06

square I read that book 'French Children Don't Throw Food' (i know, i know) and it seemed to suggest that :
a) Doing what you have to do to get young babies sleeping through is more open and acceptable,
b) Being a SAHM with NO hours in childcare until they hit school is viewed as quite unusual.

Bearing both of these things in mind, I think that any comparaison with French children is ridiculous, since if they are sleeping more from an earlier age, then they'll probably be more receptive from not being so tired and needing less sleep during the day. Also, seeing as you don't get any free childcare in this country until the term after the child is 3, at that point; you're going to have a real mixture of abilities surely, than if you'd been offered 2 or 3 sessions a week from age 1, say. Simply because their personalities are more set by then.

And not being funny, but if you suddenly take a 3 year old who's previously been Mum's focus, and used to their routine at home and not being around 30 or 40 other kids on a regular basis, and put them in a nursery setting... It's going to be harder for that child to suddenly be in that environment, isn't it surely?

amyboo Mon 22-Apr-13 13:02:47

I could have written your post kelda. DS1 was born here in Belgium and now aged 3 he's in the introductory class at maternelle. He has absolutely thrived on the structure and activities they do at school. He gets library time, gym time, lots of outdoor play, arts and crafts and even a few excursions. Despite being only 3, he is expected to losten to the teacher, sit still/quietly when asked, take himself to the toilet (although gets helps for number 2s), and generally be polite and respectful to the other children. I have two nephews in the UK who would definitely have benefitted from being in a similar structure - their discipline, concentration and eating habits are dire!

I am gutted by the actions and words of this government .... first I noticed cuts to Children's Centres, then I lost my job, then I realised thousands of other women (and men) have too, benefits cuts for the vulnerable, more children growing up in poverty ..... but now they are looking like destroying the early years education of a generation when all the research shows that investment in this is so massively rewarded both socially and even economically (aprox a x7 return on investment)

50shadesofvomit Mon 22-Apr-13 13:03:03

Im also perplexed about the aimless adjective. I've seen kids run around and Ill be surprised if it was aimless. How does she know its aimless and the child isn't imagining that they are a car, fairy or enjoying the sensation of running around?
It sounds like the government want to start quantifying nurseries like schools are. How long until 2 year olds get grades and have curriculums decided by central government?

Squarepebbles Mon 22-Apr-13 13:03:45

Also if they're used to short sharp punishments they're going to be more accommodating in nursery.

FunnysInLaJardin Mon 22-Apr-13 13:08:21

quite Juggling. Dreadful woman that she is

Squarepebbles Mon 22-Apr-13 13:09:34

Let's not forget her children have a nanny.

There is already a curriculum for Early years settings (The EYFS produced by government advisers I believe), which actually now includes developmental milestones and suggestions for good practice from birth 50shades shock

But it's OK, I quite like it - well structured and written, and has play at it's heart !

PoppyWearer Mon 22-Apr-13 13:10:05

I hadn't clicked that this was Liz Truss spouting all this stuff on nurseries.

<penny drops>


AmberSocks Mon 22-Apr-13 13:11:06

i dont think we should be taking any tips from other countries when it comes to whacking them in a nursery at such a young age,not sure if this is true but in Sweden(i think) nursery is compulsory from age 1.

slatternlymother Mon 22-Apr-13 13:11:12

But square I think the childcare model reflects the current 'baby lead' idea the NHS promotes when you come home with your baby on Day 1. I'm not saying it doesn't work for some, but I think it leaves an awful lot in the hands of the parent. With respect, you don't need qualifications to become a parent.
And I feel like when I went to the HV, out of my mind with sleep deprevation, perhaps it would have been helpful for her to help me devise a routine. But all she said was; 'baby will find his own routine', which to be perfectly honest, was an easy way out for her. I was asking her what to do with my nocturnal child, and instead of even pointing me in the right direction, she may as well have said 'fuck knows. Find your own way.'

Which seems to be the attitude for most early childhood issues, tbh.

I know this isn't really what the OP's thread was about, but I think 'Baby Lead' is a pre cursor to the Scandinavian Model described above. And whilst it suits some, it actually doesn't suit a lot of people. More than you'd think, actually.

The thing with the comparison with Nordic (and other) countries is that (as someone said above) you can't just cherry pick the bits you like. There's a whole culture and national consciousness that feeds into it, so it's not just waiting to go to school age 7, it's a sense of social responsibility that's inherent in everyday society, it's the high status of the role of teacher, it's well paid, extensive, mat leave for both parents, it's no formal exams until very late teens, no tracking or streaming etc et-fucking-cetera

pnin Mon 22-Apr-13 13:11:18

Liz Truss has two children and has a nanny.

I'm not sure if she's referring to daycare nursery or to half=-day preschool as you head into reception?

She is obviously trying to justify her plans to increase the number of

Gove, Truss, they are trying to take us back to some halcyon days when 6 month olds were out of nappies, 2 year olds could write and , . And comparing to the nirvana that is the French system is misguided. As if les petits are sitting nicely in their Bonpoint knocking out paper chains and eating their dejeuner in silence is some kind of ideal.

You want some order but you don't want obedience at that age. You want attention and engagement and freedom.

I say this as someone who was quite keen and on top of structured stuff with my first and who was eventually (thankfully
and in time), humbled by my MIL (ex-teacher) and backed off. I'm glad. I could have ruined something quite delicate

AmberSocks Mon 22-Apr-13 13:12:32

or it might of been iceland.

MajaBiene Mon 22-Apr-13 13:18:28

Nursery is available, not compulsory Amber.

slatternlymother Mon 22-Apr-13 13:18:31

Amber no, not suggesting for a minute you should be putting kids in nursery from age 1. What I am suggesting is the reason kids in France might be more structured in nursery, is because they've been in longer than a British 3 year old, so they will be more adapted to it.

inthewildernessbuild Mon 22-Apr-13 13:22:04

I remember reading that children who are anxious will run around aimlessly in a nursery setting, rather than engage in any particular purposeful activity. Perhaps she is referring to this. That for some small children, an unstructured noisy setting will create anxiety. As in "running amok".

I think we can all see the difference between a toddler "busy busy busy" running around, trying something and then something else, and using their skills, physical or practical, and a toddler just running crazily about the place and rushing up to other children, hitting them, snatching toys. That is a stressed toddler.

I think there is obviously a balance between vigorous exercise and concentration in all toddler settings! A 2-3 year who never sat still at all in a nursery would not be having a very good time or learning much from the company of others.

Is it even a true and accurate observation anyway ?

I think not, mainly because the activity is generally very purposeful if you take the time to observe carefully and engage with the children eg. asking them about their play and purposes.

Squarepebbles Mon 22-Apr-13 13:24:23

Erm I read somewhere that 57% of French parents admit to smacking,they're stricter as a nation with children and I suspect that has more to with it.

Given that I also read that French teenage behaviour aint that hot not sure why the French way is being held up as something we should all emulate.

ReallyTired Mon 22-Apr-13 13:31:32

I think that the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum where everything is child led should not be treated as a holy grail. My son went to nursery before the early years foundation stage and had more structure than dd. I think that the fashion of "learning EVERYTHING through play" does children no favours.

Children need lots of play, but they don't only need play. It does no harm for a child to have a mixture of adult led and child led activites. A bit of structure gives young children a concept of time. Often children like the big people to be in control.

It is good for a child to learn to focus and master something difficult/ prehaps they don't want to do. Rich parents are able to send their children to pre preps and avoid the EYFS rubbish or they can send their children to nursery part time and do outside activites.

My daughter loves her swimming lesson, her gymnastics and music class. She has to concentrate and is mentally challenged. She has to listen, follow instructions and work to master new skills.

Rather than importing a pre school system from a different country I would prefer the government to look at research. New curriculums should be piloted from than forced on all the nurseries/ pre schools and child minders in the country. Its ironic that free schools and academies can opt out the national curriculum but private nurseries can't.

MajaBiene Mon 22-Apr-13 13:33:17

There are lots of adult led activities in nurseries - it is part of the EYFS. Learning through play and following children's interests doesn't mean leaving them up to their own devices.

Squarepebbles Mon 22-Apr-13 13:34:57

So basically Ms Truss wants a baby away from it's home environment being made to behave in a way that is alien to how he is raised at home. That is fine with older children but babies?

1) I think it's cruel and 2) how exactly are nursery workers supposed to get babies many of whom will still be in nappies,teething,missing home,not used to sharing with hoards of other toddlers to submit to the French way?

Wonder how many French toddlers are still in nappies at 3.

ReallyTired Mon 22-Apr-13 13:35:33

"There are lots of adult led activities in nurseries - it is part of the EYFS. Learning through play and following children's interests doesn't mean leaving them up to their own devices."

Dd had far too much being left too her own devices free play in her private nursery. She loves school nursery as she is mentally challenged. I think that a lot private nurseries and pre schools do not have the skills to implement the EYFS.

slatternlymother Mon 22-Apr-13 13:36:40

reallytired I totally agree, you said it far better than I did blush

Square I wasn't trying to say we shouold emulate French parenting; far from it. It's just when people try to say 'oh, well in France the kids are soooo much better behaved...' it's not particularly informed, because of course if you put a little baby into a structured nursery environment from Day 1, it's going to be calmer in that environment when it's a toddler. You know?

Squarepebbles Mon 22-Apr-13 13:37:06

At 2 Really?

pnin Mon 22-Apr-13 13:37:44

I think she has decided that more structure + fewer adults = more cheap labour (ie women) in the workplace.

She is likely to be suffering confirmation bias when she visits a more structured adult-led setting. She's decided what she favours and is seeing what she wants to and ignoring what she doesn't (for example, more withdrawn children because they may be getting less one on one adult interaction). Her ideas hardly chime on current research, do they

That said, I have no problem with encouraging small children to sit still to listen and address others politely and to begin to take direction. from others. But children gain that from a variety of settings and also largely from a developing social sense -- at 2 years old that is sometimes a way away. But that's not what she is saying. Her wandering 'aimlessly' gives the game away.

Squarepebbles Mon 22-Apr-13 13:39:21

When my bright dd was 2 she was happy trundling round with a buggy exploring and digging all day.

By 3 she went to pre- school and enjoyed a mixture of free and structured play.

Squarepebbles Mon 22-Apr-13 13:40:35

What pnin said.

The only way to raise ratios is to have more docile kids.

Am just thinking maybe a small factor could be that she is a little older now though ReallyTired - children change so quickly in the under 5 age group ?
I think most people understand and accept that more structure can be introduced beneficially as children get older. Very little structure is that beneficial to babies in my experience - possibly the difference between night and day, regular nap times, and regular meal times as they are introduced to solids. The rest is pretty much all up for grabs !

olivertheoctopus Mon 22-Apr-13 13:49:33

Are primary school teachers actually complaining that Reception kids ARE running around in a chaotic fashion and unable to sit still then?

JuliaScurr Mon 22-Apr-13 13:50:36

"control" 23 2 year olds
good luck with that
tomorrow = 'herding cats' & 'nailing jelly to a wall'

Squarepebbles Mon 22-Apr-13 13:50:37

Yes agree a routine re sleeping,eating and playing is beneficial (I couldn't have survived without one)however the playing bit imvho at 2 needs to involve a lot of freedom.I never had the terrible 2s with my 3 as they were given freedom to explore,play at their pace.

JuliaScurr Mon 22-Apr-13 13:51:40

aren't small children meant to run around pointlessly?

PetiteRaleuse Mon 22-Apr-13 13:54:42

pebbles I am currently potty training my DD who just turned two. To most people in France (ime) this is a little late. Nursery advised 20 months as being about right as a starting point, but some people have been going on at me since she turned one hmm

Some schools accept children at two if they are potty trained, but most children start the Sptember following their 3rd birthday, and it is generally accepted that children (other than those with special needs etc) would be toilet trained by then. Those who aren't will start a bit later as they don't have the staff to deal with nappies etc in a school setting.

Thanks for making me laugh Julia smile

MajaBiene Mon 22-Apr-13 13:59:23

ReallyTired - I agree about private nurseries. All children should have a place in a state nursery imo - but generally they are higher quality because they have more, high qualified, better paid staff than the private sector.

Squarepebbles Mon 22-Apr-13 14:00:52

Hmmmm interesting,wonder how the need to change nappies in British nurseries will fit in with all this structured play and less staff.

They'll probably fine parents whose kids aren't out of nappies by 2<not joking>

How much longer have we got with this lot?Given the timescale before they're booted out what could they actually implement?

slatternlymother Mon 22-Apr-13 14:02:21

square I honestly think they'll get voted in again.

ReallyTired Mon 22-Apr-13 14:03:18

Are British children happier than their French or Belgium counterparts? Are French teenagers worse than their British counterparts.

I feel that staff in school nurseries work smarter rather than harder than those in day nurseries. They are able to work smarter because the school employs cleaners and children who attend lunch time club are looked after by dinner ladies.

I think that nursery nurses looking after more children could work if they have a team of support staff. However support staff need to be paid so it more than slightly defeats the object of bringing down costs.

ReallyTired Mon 22-Apr-13 14:08:38

"Am just thinking maybe a small factor could be that she is a little older now though ReallyTired - children change so quickly in the under 5 age group ?"

Dd attends state nursery in the afternoon and does two three hours mornings at the private nursery at the age of four. (she had her birthday last week)

I am taking her out of the private nursery as dd hates it with a passion. The day nursery say that dd has outgrown their setting which I find laughable as she is 48 months old and a day nursery should be able to cater for a child who is almost five years old!

Lastofthepodpeople Mon 22-Apr-13 14:16:59

This is completely daft.
The current guidelines allow for a mix of structured activities and free play.
I would quite hope that my 2.5 year old gets to spend some time 'running around aimlessly'. He's a toddler, not an adult.

Runoutofideas Mon 22-Apr-13 14:18:22

I am a childminder and I took my 3 x 2yr old mindees to toddler group this morning. They would have looked as though they were "running around pointlessly" but actually they were involved in their own complicated role play situation with the dolls and buggies. They were also learning to share and co-operate as well as getting physical exercise. I would far rather they were "running around pointlessly" than being forced to sit still at tables to "learn stuff" and so, I'm sure, would their parents.

slatternlymother Mon 22-Apr-13 14:24:58

We are in the rare position of having our son in a private nursery on a military base. Because they don't have to pay rent and electricity or grounds' repairs,they employ a full time cook and cleaner (quick mopping/toilet explosions are taken care of by a member of staff), and they have a independent sports' school come in every week too.

They go about in their little 'key worker' groups taking turns on different activities; singing, counting/rhyming games, painting, role play, manner and speech rhythms (DS says please, thankyou, you're welcome, bless you, please may I have, how do you do, my name is X, what is your name? etc. It's like a little social interactions class). They also have a high ratio of male carers, which really helps with discipline I think. It's quite regulated, although they do have 'free play' and pretty much take the nursery outside in the warm weather (we live at the bottom of Cornwall, so it gets quite hot). It is about as structured as you'd want for small kids though.

Some of the other private nurseries I've seen around here though, really just seem to have an ethos of 'do what you want, when you want' and there really seems to be a lack of direction.

Pinkyorkbunny Mon 22-Apr-13 14:26:11

"The childcare minister Elizabeth Truss has criticised "chaotic" nurseries for failing to prepare children for school life".

What's her next statement going to be? Is she going to criticise parents for not getting their children prepared for nursery life?

She needs a glass of wine and to leave the already over stretched nursery staff alone!

Wingdingdong Mon 22-Apr-13 14:31:46

Most of the time I go into DD's nursery, children are in groups doing very purposeful activities (in DD's case, digging all the stones out of the flowerbed and stuffing them in her coat pockets to bugger up the washing machine as treasure - in others', sitting nicely engrossed in writing their own names...). They do have a lot of structure, but they also have flexibility within that.

I did go in just before Christmas to hear a load of noise from the garden. The manager shrugged her shoulders and said the children were totally wound up about Christmas, they were bouncing off the walls so she'd kicked them all into the garden to try to tire them out a bit before pick-up. Seemed like a pragmatic solution to me, and I for one was grateful that DD had been running around aimlessly outside during the day rather than in my house at bedtime.

LittleYellowBall Mon 22-Apr-13 14:42:23

Running around is a good thing surely?

Lavenderhoney Mon 22-Apr-13 14:46:12

Julia that made me smilesmile

Agree toddlers are supposed to play and may well be pretending to be a train or something. They aren't expected to leave with a portfolio are they? Or be beaten down by a structured system before they have the spatial development to deal with it.

Liz Truss must be hoping to be reshuffled to something else with all these bizarre pronoucements. Just because she is female and has dc doesn't mean she is an expert on everyone else's kids.

mum2jakie Mon 22-Apr-13 14:53:00

'Running around aimlessly' otherwise known as toddlers playing and exploring, surely?

UptoapointLordCopper Mon 22-Apr-13 14:54:00

LOL at toddlers running around without a sense of purpose. Just because she's too thick to see it doesn't mean they don't have any sense of purpose. In fact anyone who has looked after toddlers before knows that the minute you think the toddler is running around without a purpose is the minute your house is wrecked. grin

Sugarice Mon 22-Apr-13 14:58:33

I've found this thread really interesting reading.

I've accepted a job at a well known chain of nurseries and frankly the room which I will be room leader of does need some structure for the children [or perhaps it was just a bad time to be shown around]

I believe that toddlers do need some structure just in terms of a good well planned routine but with plenty of fun play ie sensory and messy within that structure.

After six years out of working in childcare Liz Truss is making me feel a little nervous about expectations.

TheChimpParadox Mon 22-Apr-13 15:00:45

So if this is the case why has my DS old playgroup just got rated Outstanding ?

Satine5 Mon 22-Apr-13 15:01:43

First we get one minister saying that the school holidays are too long and school days should be extended. Now another basically saying kids should start sitting at desks and doing some 'proper' learning from the age of 2? WTF is wrong with those people?
I come from a European country where compulsory education starts from the age of 7. I actually have fond memories of running round' aimlessly' before I started structured schooling.
If a few more stupid knobs like that actually start making changes of this nature to the UK educational system and I am going to seriously consider homeschooling (or moving abroad).

MrsDeVere Mon 22-Apr-13 15:14:59

I have five children and work in early years (NOT nursery so no axe to grind).

There are nearly 20 years between DC and DC5.

All my DCs have been to nursery.

I would not send my children to a nursery where they didn't spend a large proportion of their time 'wandering around aimlessly'.

Our children are corralled into formal education far to young as it is.

I worked in reception for a short time. Half the children couldn't sit still and the other half couldn't stay awake.
NOT because they came from troubled families without the skills to prepare them for school hmm
Because some of them were barely 4!

Children learn through play and exploration. Plenty of time for sitting in straight lines, fingers on lips, sitting up nicely etc when they are older.

I love my current nursery. It is free flow with loads going on. An enthusiastic key worker did try and get me concerned that DC5 didn't like group activities and found it hard to sit through story time.

As he was just two I didn't worry unduly hmm

My only real reservation about these nurseries is that they do not always suit children with particular SN (eg some kids with ASD) or children who are lacking in confidence. This should be taken into consideration when choosing a setting and staff should always be aware of children who may need extra support.

There should always be quiet areas within the setting.

It's like when people say their children are bored at pre-school/ nursery RT and are so ready to start school.

IMVHO Any child who is bored in a good nursery will only be more bored in school. Of course it might not be a good nursery though !

AmberSocks Mon 22-Apr-13 15:49:48

i dont get all this "gets them ready for school" i dont want my kids to be trained for schools i want them, to have fun.I dot see the point of having kids if all you do from such a young age is prepare them for school,you might as well just hand them over to the council as soon as they pop out,does no one want to just spend time with their kids?just because?

I gather her comments include "failing to prepare children for school life"

Well, one thought on that ... maybe it's the expectations of school life and Reception classes (where some have an overly pressurised emphasis on phonics and writing) that is out of kilter with the children's development, and not the nurseries ?

Also if we're going to provide even less opportunity for toddlers and pre-schoolers to run around has she considered the likely effects on our already very concerning levels of obesity (where major behaviour patterns around activity and exercise are learnt early)

dawntigga Mon 22-Apr-13 15:55:30

I think Ms Truss needs to get her backside on here for a webchat. If anyone can peer review her it's Mumsnet. Olivia et al please ask her to put on her flame proof underwear and come on over to back her ridiculous claims up.


specialsubject Mon 22-Apr-13 15:59:01

regarding the school start age, I think I have read that English is a difficult language to learn so English-speaking children do need to start earlier, it will take them more time to learn correct English.

so they can then spend their teenage years saying 'like' at every second word...

other European languages take less time to learn.

wonder what happens in China?

SuburbanRhonda Mon 22-Apr-13 16:01:55

I suppose it was only a matter of time before Team Gove started on nursery schools. Everyone else in education seems to have taken a battering since this lot got into power.

kelda Mon 22-Apr-13 16:10:11

specialsubject - I've heard that theory. When it suits english-speakers, then english is harder then other european languages.

Until they start learning another european language, then suddenly, that new language is much more difficult wink

And just because something is difficult doesn't necessarily mean you want to start learning it early ... for example calculus is difficult, or statistics, but we don't start learning it at 5, unless you include related early skills such as counting.

Well there are related early skills with learning English as well, such as listening to stories and beginning to predict what might happen next.

- With this government I daren't look to see what's in the next chapter !

WouldBeHarrietVane Mon 22-Apr-13 16:24:16

Aaaagh sad so cross about these comments angry

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 22-Apr-13 16:46:27

specialsubject I don't believe English is harder to learn for a preschooler. Isn't it shown that a child can learn whatever 'grammar rules' thrown at them. (I'm talking about the native tongue of the parents. Not if you buy a russian peppa pig dvd hoping your LO can pick up russian from peppa). I think I watched something by Stephen Fry on this.

As for chinese. I do know the answer. Neither the tones nor the writing system make it difficult if you are learning it as a child. I grew up in HK, and my parents speak cantonese. It has 9 tones, compared to the 4 in mandarin. Until my DH tried learning cantonese, I wasn't aware there are 9 tones. To me they are simply completely different sounds. I picked up mandarin from listening to my taiwanese friends, tv and pop songs. Same thing about the 4 mandarin tones. To me they just are distinct sounds and I never thought of them as 4 tones of the same sound. (I manage to forget all my mandarin after I moved to the UK).

I don't know how I learned to read. We weren't taught any romanisation system in HK. (Unlike in China and Taiwan). So it must be that I couldn't read until I have memorised enough characters. Children books from Taiwan and China have romanised sounds next to the chinese characters. So presumably children can read by 'saying' the romanisation out, before they have learned the characters. (Meaning they could read before their peers in HK). My DD is only 2yo. Would phonics do the same thing? (DH couldn't remember how he learned to read either). In that it helps little children sounding out the words before they learn to spell/read properly?

But I disgress. I didn't find learning all those characters, even though I did it the hard way, and with traditional chinese script, hard. Human brains are simply amazing.

ReallyTired Mon 22-Apr-13 16:57:08

I don't think that Elizabeth Truss wants an end to free play nor does she want to stick two year olds behind a desk.

Learning through play is not throwing a bunch of children into a room with some pretty toys and letting them get on with it with a couple of sixteen year olds to supervise. A good early years professional will plan the play environment for the children and encourage the next steps of development.
However this takes considerable skill to do well.

Elizabeth Truss feels that high quality childcare professions with degrees in early years provide better education those with just an NVQ level 2.

Plomino Mon 22-Apr-13 17:12:21

Maybe Ms Truss went to the Houses of Parliament and mistook it for a nursery . That would make sense of her opinion . Plenty of people running round pointlessly there .

Alas , she happens to be my MP .

I have good qualifications myself but they haven't always been recognised or rewarded in my work with young children.

MajaBiene Mon 22-Apr-13 17:19:30

But you need lots of high quality practitioners to facilitate child-led learning.

Neither having lots of cheap staff, or having one highly qualified practitioner who has to maintain total control, is the way to go. But both approaches are cheaper, which is ultimately what seems to be important.

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 22-Apr-13 17:20:44
insancerre Mon 22-Apr-13 17:21:10

i agree reallytired as a highly skilled Early Years Professional. grin
I am woried about Liz Truss's statements still. She doesn't seem to have a grasp of the early years at all, which is very worrying as she is the children's minister.

LineRunner Mon 22-Apr-13 17:26:10

What a naive bloody Government Minister.

So her government agency, Ofsted, has inspected all these nurseries and found loads of terrible, pointless crap happening, has it, and yet she has allowed them to stay open?

Or was this more likely a very silly interview where she said a load of ill-considered stuff and now looks like a twat.

PiratePanda Mon 22-Apr-13 17:26:18

I have experience of one very bad nursery where all they seemed to do was a bit of minimal crowd control; the children ran themselves ragged (and ran over my DS head on a tricycle) and came home filthy. My DS current nursery is the opposite; calm, well mannered children playing naice games with attentive staff.

So I both agree and disagree with her that SOME nurseries allow this, and some don't. I cannot possibly see how increasing the child to staff ratio will help.

LillianGish Mon 22-Apr-13 17:51:29

I don't think being in a structured environment necessarily precludes the children having fun. My two were both in French nurseries (maternelle) from 2 until they started school proper at 6 and they absolutely loved it. As someone has already said they had plenty of time for charging around pointlessly when they weren't at nursery (during breaks, at weekends, all day Wednesday and very long holidays). Whenever I went in to read or accompany school trips I was always astonished at the level of control exerted by the teachers who managed to keep perfect order without ever raising their voices (indeed one actually made a point of whispering so the children had to be really quiet to hear her). I don't think French toddlers are necessarily better behaved in general just that they know how to behave in a school environment.

AmberSocks Mon 22-Apr-13 18:00:14

this wont be popular but i think its sad we need early years at all,they should be at home at that age.obviously not all kids are better off at home which i guess is why we need them.sad state of affairs.

MajaBiene Mon 22-Apr-13 18:04:25

Who is going to be at home with them?

Smudging Mon 22-Apr-13 18:08:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

insancerre Mon 22-Apr-13 18:10:31

ambersocks the research would seem to suggest otherwise
The EPPE project shows that children who attended a good-quality early years setting do better at school than those who do not.
The key point being 'good quality', hence the introduction of a graduate led workforce and the emphasis on qualifications.

MrsDeVere Mon 22-Apr-13 18:19:52

My children went into nursery at two ambersocks.
They got a place on social grounds.
But you don't need to feel sad for them. They have two parents who love them and a warm, clean home. They are fed and clothed and read to.

There are lots of reasons why children benefit from early placements and they do not involve neglect and abuse.

I am very grateful for the funded 2 year placements. My two youngest thrived at their nursery. My youngest is still there and having a whale of a time. My 5 year old is doing very well at school.

pointythings Mon 22-Apr-13 18:21:13

I scored 9/10 on the quiz grin.

What worries me about this is the way this government's argument always seems to be 'They do it so much better in other countries'. Then they demolish everything that is good about what we already have along with the bad, rebuild it and sell it off for profit.

What they never do is look at existing good practice and how/why it works, and then roll that out.

Even if Elizabeth Truss has been taken out of context and means well, I just don't trust her. British children are not French children. There are very many good nurseries around - the private nursery my DDs went to is one, there is another very nearby which provided out of school care for school age children including my DDs, and it was also excellent. The government needs to look at places like this and work towards having that as the norm.

But that isn't nice and cheap.

pointythings Mon 22-Apr-13 18:22:06

AmberSocks patronising much? hmm

AmberSocks Mon 22-Apr-13 19:03:48

yes i know the research says they ar emore ready for SCHOOL,but there is much more to life than school!

AmberSocks Mon 22-Apr-13 19:07:35

well ideally one of their parents,but a grandparent,or aunt/uncle?

i just dont see why we need to institutionalize them at such a young age.

pointythings Mon 22-Apr-13 19:13:53

Well, my poor dds, institutionalised from 6 months old, are doing very well, thanks. I needed to institutionalise them because I needed to work, as did DH. As, indeed, did my parents (who incidentally don't live in the UK). I suppose DH's parents could have taken them, but the daily drop off in the US might have been a problem.

Many of us either want to work, have to work, or in my case and that of many others, both. This thread is about protecting the good childcare many of us have (and pay for) from a government bent on doing everything on the cheap. Can we stay on topic?

MrsDeVere Mon 22-Apr-13 19:19:24

But are we not discussing the lack of institutionalisation amber?
At all these free flow, free play nurseries.

Someone being related and being at home in the day is not an automatic qualification for being any good at looking after a small child.

FGS most two/three year olds are only at nursery for 3 hours a day.

loobloo Mon 22-Apr-13 19:50:50

This is exactly what we are struggling with at the moment. Our DS goes to one nursery in a poorer area attached to a failing school and they are amazing. Lots of good activities to help them learn numbers and letters. But at the nursery attached to an outstanding school and is the fashion with the yummy mummies he just seems to run around aimlessly with no structure or learning. Hence he goes to the first nursery 3 times a week and the second 2 times a week. We justify him having 2 free play sessions to 3 learning sessions and its a good balance.

OneLittleToddleTerror Mon 22-Apr-13 19:57:01

pointythings maybe amber is talking about what the Chinese do. Send them to live with the grandparents in china until school age. She might be just as fond of them as Gove grin. A colleague at work spent her preschool years with her grandma this way even though both her mum and her grandma are in china. So it's nothing new and perfectly acceptable. What do you say to that amber? The child is looked after by a relative but without daily contact with the parents?

pnin Mon 22-Apr-13 19:58:55

Put any arguments about nurseries aside. This rhetoric is nothing to do with children, it's about labour costs. However, it has been dressed up In the language of harking back to a halcyon age of obedient children and a a more adult-led schooling.

If Truss or Gove et al. Had conducted research that went against the tide of knowledge about the psychology of learning, then I would be genuinely receptive. But they haven't. They are politicians who need to stir up a controversy to justify their existence.

Oh, they seen a few biddable French children in nurseries and want to graft some of that onto our system because ultimately it would get gem out of having to spend money.

There is no political currency in a nuanced , evidence-based response to some of the issues in early child care. For what it's worth, I find their attitude to education soulless and Gradgrindian - but that's by the by

But again, this isn't about children

PessimisticMissPiggy Mon 22-Apr-13 19:59:36

amber nice. Thanks for sharing, but not helpful biscuit

pnin Mon 22-Apr-13 20:02:07

Oh, I used to live in Asia and knew a good few Koreans who lived apart from their children and husbands for years at a time. Chinese migrant workers also spend up to a year at a time away from their children. But you can't c

libertyflip Mon 22-Apr-13 20:10:10

I really hate the increasing pressure people like Truss put on children, families and nurseries to prepare children for school. I see the early years as a valid stage of life in its own right, not a preparation for anything else. Is work a preparation for retirement or retirement a preparation for death? If not then back off!

Well said liberty
- let's have some liberty and freedom in childhood smile

missorinoco Mon 22-Apr-13 20:25:11

Good luck to anyone who suggests to my toddlers that their running around is pointless. It has an aim, a specific aim. That the aim is neither clear nor logical to man or beast is another matter entirely.

I have a very good nursery, which isn't into pointless toddler running around. Two conversations with my husband come to mind. One, where I suggested it might be more helpful for my DC to master English before he moved onto French, and the other where I mused if it might be helpful for a subsequent DC to be able to stand unaided before he concerned himself with tasks such as hand hygeine and potty training. Ho hum.

Exhaustipated Mon 22-Apr-13 20:26:53

Do you think she only stayed for about two twenty minutes?

My DS' (pre-school) nursery is fairly free flow, but at certain points they all sit down together and have a chat, story, snack or song in a group. Everything is actually very regular and there is a routine that the children are very familiar with.

If you walked in and only stayed for a bit, it might look a bit chaotic, although when I've been there it always seems fairly calm, as it's small with a high staff-child ratio. Am concerned that Truss' horrendous plans for increasing ratios will ruin this. sad

TiggyD Mon 22-Apr-13 20:28:43

I'm a well qualified nursery worker. I do supply in lots of nurseries. To some extent I think I see where Trussy is coming from. There is a big difference between freeplay where the children are left to their own devices, and freeplay which is helped by a good worker giving guidance, stretching children by asking questions, making suggestions, being on hand to answer questions, and leading the children to areas of new learning following children's interests. It takes good staff to do the latter but nurseries are lucky to have 2 or 3 of those per setting. Most staff are just 'filler' to comply with ratios and doing the basics of nappies and stopping fights etc.
It all comes down to needing good staff who will need good training (Not NVQs) and good wages.

And about two year old nursery places (and funding) - my DD went to nursery a couple of times a week just before I had DS when she was 2.6 yrs. It was brilliant for her, and also for me with a new baby. I would have struggled without the support it offered - such a lovely "break" - and opportunity to get to know him - to be able to spend some time "just" with baby DS.

Actinglikealovestruckteen Mon 22-Apr-13 20:41:06

If my children didn't go to nursery they would probably run about aimlessly with me instead.

I might even plonk them in front of cbeebies if they got fed up of all that pointless running.

edam Mon 22-Apr-13 20:49:33

Agree with libertyflip, early childhood is a stage in its own right, not just a race to get ready for school. Horrible Gadgrinian approach politicians tend to take - infancy is just about hurrying up and getting ready for school, school is just about hurrying up and getting ready for work - all they want are dull, obedient worker bees who won't question authority.

Balls to that.

I suspect the poster who said it's all about softening us up for cutting ratios of staff to children is right. They want the French system of one teacher to lots of children. Actually there's been a lot of criticism of the French system for squishing creativity and individuality. Who knows which is best, but I'm not impressed by a government that is using this as cover for cutting ratios.

Cravingdairy Mon 22-Apr-13 21:18:28

They'll be putting them in smart business attire next.

Sorry, post about a thread, bad form [puts self on naughty step]

mam29 Mon 22-Apr-13 22:02:03

I was in postoffice cursing daily mil nursery unruly toddlers headline from afar tell the lady they got a cheek.

I have 3kids 2girls attended different local private day nurseries where they were age appropriate room and well behaved with routines so they not in same room all day.

dd2nursery hs messy play room, large garden, music /dance room, snack room and group room depending on age.

dd1s nursery had room each age group, sleep room softplay music room and prision yard type garden,

Both girls used same preschool within school grounds but not part of school its rc comunity preschool run as a charity and by commitee. Its free play but they sit round have stories, say prayers and do more structured activities in their key group like nature walks or cooking ect.

Noticed more paperwork over the years.

my 2year olds just started they strated taking 2year olds due to early years 2year old grant being encouraged by local councils.

Surly more structure interferes with their efys policy seems at odd with each other.

I fear as others said its about managing the rations.

will private nurseries be except like private schools from changes?

we have very few state nurseries only 3schools locally have nurseries attached and they in deprived areas.

We as uk parents pay a lot for childcare and choose carefully and always assumed we should trust ofsted if she visited satisactory nursery then they under notice to improve.

We pay so much and have diverse and patchy childcare provision in uk as it is surly should be up to parent to choose setting they prefer and what suits their child.

We have to stop looking at other countries we not in any way similar too culturally we not a tiger country although wonder if we becoming more competative keep seeing 3year old kumon ads in local magazine.

i just feel annoyed about uk education its so flipping stressful.

in europe they have kindergarten we already have early age start school age 4 then they moan the 4year olds are behind.

dd1 had loads of homework in reception. we since moved her to a school where kids can be kids.

WouldBeHarrietVane Mon 22-Apr-13 22:04:16

They will have to change eyfs if they go down this route sad

I am so pleased DS is going to preschool soon do no mucking about with nurseries will affect him.

edam Mon 22-Apr-13 22:15:54

Craving grin. They've got to learn, haven't they, one day they will be at work and how on earth will they get a job if they haven't learned how to tie a necktie at age two, exactly, and how to manage a blazer in the sandpit... (No doubt all sandpits will be removed anyway as far too distracting from the main business of reading and writing and maths and two foreign languages.)

working9while5 Mon 22-Apr-13 22:25:24

She is fucking joking.

Nurseries are too chaotic, hey let's address this by changing the ratio so there are LESS adults to children and see what happens!

working9while5 Mon 22-Apr-13 22:27:47

"The EPPE project shows that children who attended a good-quality early years setting do better at school than those who do not."

Well, yeah.. but that doesn't make it sad. Doing well at school shouldn't be the be all and end all. It's a shame that children don't have more time with people who love them sometimes.

Mine go to nursery, so I'm not having a dig. I wish I could do a Hermione Grainger and be at work and at home all at once, that's all.

working9while5 Mon 22-Apr-13 22:28:01

make it any less sad... grrr

9while5 - I suppose you could almost admire the cheek of it smile

Lavenderhoney Tue 23-Apr-13 06:21:12

Maybe the children didn't line up and sit in total agog and awed silence for the very important lady expected to be revered and handed bunched of flowers by little girls in spotless dresses.

Maybe they just got on with being children and played.

Squarepebbles Tue 23-Apr-13 07:02:32

Re eppe project it is children from disadvantaged families who benefit(hardly suprising)and they include pre and nursery schools(which surely most children attend before school anyway)it isn't just talking about nurseries.Also full time attenders do no better than part time.

Studies show that nursery can cause aggression and that parent care is best for children,then other family members,then nannies,then finally childminders.Nursery should be a last resort.

The elephant in the room here is that nursery is not a good option for children and it's appalling that this is being swept under the carpet.

Toddlers need to run about and explore aimlessly however in big numbers it has it's problems sooooooo said minister wants to stifle their needs in order to push nurseries and cut ratios.

It really is dreadful.

When you say "nursery is not a good option for children" it certainly depends what you mean ...

For babies and very young children I think it can be a perfectly OK option as part of their 24/7 care which will still mainly be by their parents. Having worked in nurseries I think it provides a similar if slightly different level and type of care and stimulation for babies and children to what I was able to offer at home.

With older children, say from 2 or certainly from 3, I think spending at least sessions with other children (say the 15 hours currently funded) in a nursery/ pre-school setting has lots of benefits, both in it's own right and as preparation for school.

Emsmaman Tue 23-Apr-13 10:16:50

squarepebbles bollocks to that. My daughter's nursery is the best option for her after family care which only constitutes myself and my husband as we don't live in the same country as other family members.

DD is well balanced, lively, intelligent and ahead for her age in many ways. Nursery 3 full days a week (10 hours! Shock horror!) has not damaged our bond whatsoever. I agree there are probably some shocking nurseries just as I'm sure there are some shocking nannies, childminders and parents. The beauty of a nursery is that group care ensures that you don't have sole trust in one person who could abuse of that trust. I can look at my DD via webcam during the day and I get a full report of her day when I collect her of an evening.

piprabbit Tue 23-Apr-13 10:23:51

I think you might be right lavenderhiney. If Ms Truss had visited my DS's nursery class, she would have been greeted by a tiny lad with an angelic smile asking "Would you like to smell my bottom?".

I think she would probably have needed the smelling salts to recover.

Barbeasty Tue 23-Apr-13 11:07:39

To be fair the "aimless running around" seems to have been the daily mail's spin on this rather than a direct quote.

The way I read it she wants to see children gradually being prepared for school.

What's wrong with having a point in the day where 3+ year olds sit as a group and listen to a story, or learn to dress themselves?

If you go to a playgroup, or read any number of threads on here, before a child can talk properly you'll see parents encouraging them to say please and thank you, to take turns, share, and to "wait a moment, mummy's talking".

Why is it bad to suggest nurseries do the same, alongside all those chances to run around and play.

Preparing for school isn't about sitting small children and babies behind a desk and teaching them to read. It's giving them the social and practical skills which means they can thrive when they start school.

It's no new thing. I remember it happening for me at playschool. The term before starting school we would be taken into a side room and taught to change to & from a pe kit.

I haven't read a transcript of the interview. What we have is the reports, each biased in their own way, of what was said and what was meant.

It might be that she wants to see the best nursery care being emulated and seen in all settings. It might be that she is being paraphrased so that all her meaning has been removed.

Of course, she could be clueless and about to destroy what actually seems to be a pretty good system!

Barbeasty, I think most of us, especially those who work with young children know all that and would agree. Hopefully most nurseries have some story times, at least in small groups !
However it's about the emphasis on things - the main focus should be on learning through play, and we're mostly a bit worried that Mrs Truss is thinking of eroding this fiercely defended fine British tradition. Many other countries look to see what we are doing well here too !

Fillyjonk75 Tue 23-Apr-13 11:22:10

DD2's (pre-school) nursery has tables and areas for different activities as well as an outside area where they can run around aimlessly, or play on the equipment, or talk to the guineapig, or do some digging and find a worm. Also the older ones have now started reading schemes and someone reads with them twice a week. In the final term they will go into school for a couple of afternoons a week.

School kids do a lot of running around aimlessly at break times. Perhaps she would prefer it if they wore jackboots and marched in rows reciting the 9 times table?

ReallyTired Tue 23-Apr-13 11:57:54

I think that there is a bigger issue of the staff wondering about aimlessly than the children wondering about aimlessly in a minority of nurseries.

In a good nursery the staff will talk to the children rather than just watch.

". Also the older ones have now started reading schemes and someone reads with them twice a week. In the final term they will go into school for a couple of afternoons a week."

I'm glad that dd's school doesn't inflict reading schemes on its nursery children. Many children are put off for life by being put on the reading scheme too early.

20wkbaby Tue 23-Apr-13 12:13:20

My DD2 (18mo) goes to a nursery (in the UK) which I would recognise as Petite and kelda have described the nurseries they have experience of. For 'structure' I would say organised activity - they do painting, water play, sand play and go outside to play. None of it is silent I imagine. There is also story and song time and some time to just wander around and pick up what takes their fancy. Mealtimes are a lot quieter than even with my 5yo and DD2 at home - the food must be good!

My idea of a lovely environment, and even clingy DD2 is dropped off without a fuss.

MrsFoodie Tue 23-Apr-13 12:35:37

I'm all for the government challenging and improving the quality of nursery care, but the data and evidence appear to be missing from this it sound's like one woman's view based on a relatively small sample, measured against her opinion on how children should behave..Hmm not sure that's grounds to slag off the whole industry/ system.... Also thought the Tories were against a nanny state :-D

fromparistoberlin Tue 23-Apr-13 13:24:05

I think there is a correlation between

Coalition want us all go back to work
Alot of of us dont want have children in Nurseries FT
Research this weekend saying 60,000 nurseries in the UK are substandard (not sure if if that number is right)

and now this!!!!

anyway I bet she has been misquoted. alot of nurseries are SHIT and dont prepare kids for school

most kids that are in FT Nursery before school are usually behind their peers that attended Nursery school, unless their parents are super teachers

Strix Tue 23-Apr-13 13:28:24

I do believe Ms. Truss is the one running round with no sense of purpose.

Seriously???? Do people send their two year olds to nursery to educate and prepare them for school? I send my two year old to childcare to be cared for. Naturally, there is some element of education. But, really, my ideas and hers are rarely aligned so I don't really give a toss what she thinks the educational goals should be.

Learning through diorganised play at two years old is quite age appropriate if you ask me. (and I don't plan to ask her)

fromparistoberlin Tue 23-Apr-13 13:46:06

fact is a load of nurseries are poor quality, and I bet she has seen a few. I am pleased people have their kids in good places. But many are NOT and I think she makes a valid point, and one sentance has been twisted

pnin Tue 23-Apr-13 14:02:37

The govt wants cheap labour (women)

Many of those women don't have cheap childcare.

If they increase adult to children ratios then prices could come down - is the theory (but I am sceptical).

The corollary is that the setting will probably have to change to become more adult-led because that's the only way a nursery could cope.

Truss' provocative comments (and they were not twisted, I'm a journalist and have seen them) were made to dress this up as concern children won't be able sit still to be taught calculus.

No research, no evidence, no real understanding of neurology of learning.

This isn't about improving standards, or passing judgement on the use of full time daycare.

This is a way of getting bums on seats.

DuelingFanjo Tue 23-Apr-13 14:10:24

Ha! Clearly she's one of those people who think nurseries churn out little savages, just because her nanny raised children probably find it harder to cope with the structure of preschool once they finally make it there. All these rowdy untrained little horrors expressing their personalities and being all loud and the like, how very dare they.

MamaBear17 Tue 23-Apr-13 14:10:32

My dd most certainly did not 'run around pointlessly' this morning. She ran to the bouncy castle. Then, she bounced on it. smile Then she did some painting and declared to me when I picked her up 'look I made a castle for you' as she handed me her art work. She is happy, stimulated and well cared for at her nursery, and as she is only 20 months old, that is all I could possibly want for her.

MamaBear17 Tue 23-Apr-13 14:12:41

My SIL is a early years teacher and she said that the children who have been to nursery are often better at following instructions because they have been used to structured play. I realise that one nursery and school are not reflective of a whole country, but I still have to disagree with Ms Truss.

Squarepebbles Tue 23-Apr-13 14:14:30

Exactly what pnin said.

When are the early years experts going to get together and raise concerns about her?

I'm shocked she is allowed to peddle this crap.confused

mintymellons Tue 23-Apr-13 14:24:11

Right, here it is.

I'm a qualified teacher working in a pre school. Have done this for the past five years and taught in a school before that.

I absolutely think that pre school children would benefit from some form of structure instead of the present situation which is, more or less, to let them do as they please (so called child led learning). Either that, or get rid of all of the targets and levels and paperwork for this age group and let them 'just play' (like we did in the seventies/eighties!)

As a pre school teacher, all I can say is that something is going to have to give sooner or later, because it's not working well right now.

pnin Tue 23-Apr-13 14:50:26

Sorry, I am not clear.

You want small children to have more structure at daycare/preschool (It's not entirely clear whether we are all referring to nursery or preschool)

But you want there to be no paperwork or targets and just let them play?

I'm not sure I follow.

But I am intrigued by your reasons for wanting structure. There are some valid arguments for having some (just not from Mrs Truss, who has political currency to gain from saying it's broken)

estya Tue 23-Apr-13 15:26:43

I think there is a time for structure but there also must be time for free/child led activities for the children to develop as an individual.

Truss has come under critism for saying the child/adult worker ratio needs to change to make childcare cheaper and she realises that the only way this is possible is to stamp out the personality from the toddler so they are easier to manage in a large group (20+ children to one adult in france, which she refers to as the country that has got it right)

I wouldn't want my 2 year old in this type of environment.

estya Tue 23-Apr-13 16:47:30

My DD (2yo) preschool is about a 50/50 split of structured and unstructured.
Of the 3hr session they have approx 40 mins at the start and end of structure (songs/stories/learning about chicks this week/telling and listening about what happened at the weekend etc)

The rest is free/child led but often side by side with an adult (there are 6 staff for up to 24 kids, plus normally a parent or 2 as we are encouraged to come in often). They are free to play outside or inside, the snack bar is open for all of this period and independence is encouraged (eg buttering own bread to make a sandwich) and this an equally important way to learn imo.

I think this is about right but i can see that it wouldn't be possible to have 1 adult at the snack bar, 1 min outside, 2/3 on messy activities and 1 floating if truss' ratio change was to happen here.
So the kids would have to get used to more of the structured, sit down and be quiet stuff and less learning through doing it themselves/play and making a mess

radicalsubstitution Tue 23-Apr-13 18:16:42

OK, in the last month I have seen articles in the DM that suggest:

Working mothers are damaging their children by abandoning them in nurseries.

SAHM are damaging their children because they are all depressed and hate motherhood and are passing this on to their children.

Mothers on benefits are damaging their children in all manner of ways.

Middle class mothers are damaging their children by over-protecting them and not letting them fail.

Fathers are damaging their children by having affairs.

Incidentally, I have taught the child of a member of this current government who is among the most damaged children I have ever met, so I wouldn't trust their word on anything to do with parenting.

Basically, we should all stop having children because we are crap.

sunshinenanny Tue 23-Apr-13 18:18:26

Sounds quite orwellian! Poor childrensad

If this is how such young children are cared for in these countries thank goodness I don't live in one.

I have always been complimented on the nice manners/good behaviour of my young charges but this is crushing their individualiy and it's natural for small children to just play and let of steam. The idea of 1 person in charge of 20/23 small children sounds dangerous to me.

scottishmummy Tue 23-Apr-13 20:07:36

I don't know if the whey faced weans run amok in nursery,staff wouldn't tell
Staff are primed to obsequiously please us avaricious parents,as we pay the fees after all
Has any one mentioned biddulph yet,banged that particular drum

Strix Tue 23-Apr-13 20:32:55

Hello DuellinFango. How the heck are you? How is your two year old? Mine is a bloody thug. In the last month he has broken the Wii (DS1 devasted), my iPad (me devastated) and the microwave.

Am I the only one on here who doesn't think the purpose of nursery is to prepare them for the academic rigours of reception? Really?? I've been know to act like a militant alpha mum when it comes to academic expectations. But really... At 2? That's ludicrous.

soverylucky Tue 23-Apr-13 22:06:13

When I went back to work and had to put my two in a nursery I didn't give a toss about ofsted. I went and looked around nurseries myself and found one that I liked based on the staff, the environment and just the general feel of the place. My eldest was 3. I wanted her to be in an environment where she could just play and be happy and where someone would offer her warmth and comfort should she need/want it. A place where she could run outside if she wanted or read a book. I did not want her to learn letters and numbers - if she asked fine - but I didn't want any formal, structured learning at all. There would plenty of time for that later on.
If you can't run around pointlessly when you are two then when can you?

KCS Tue 23-Apr-13 22:06:38

Truss and Gove are not experts. They are just politicians.

They are simply not qualified to ride rough shod over years and years of proven research and rigorous study by educational academics. Their arrogance is astounding and frightening.

I have read and follow the current EYFS framework. It is a government initiative, so what, that's all rubbish now is it?

Truss doesn't care about the welfare and development of ordinary children. She and all her friends have Nannies and private education.
She is just interested in playing her power games to please her posh cronies.

It's true what they say, don't dare to be very old or very young with this lot. They don't give a monkeys.

BoffinMum Tue 23-Apr-13 23:02:54

OK, time for the naive question. Given that there are people who spend years and years studying health or education or whatever, and who deal with it professionally over a period of decades on a daily basis, why is it that as a democracy we leave it to complete amateurs who have barely any experience in anything at all to make key decisions?

If you interviewed these characters for jobs they would fail at the first hurdle, so why are they voted for?

edam Tue 23-Apr-13 23:12:03

I'm sure there are poor quality nurseries. But I don't think Liz Truss sending in a battalion of degree-educated nursery teachers to get 2yos doing calculus is the answer.

I'm a degree educated nursery teacher (I think it's fair to say) but I wouldn't teach them calculus
actually I think I've forgotten how to do it if I ever knew
Catullus ? - now you're talking grin

I think you've made an excellent point there Boffin
- as a society we give the politicians too much say in decision making which should properly be based on research and experience analysed by experts in their fields.
Why do we do that ? And how can we change things so that politicians can offer us proper democratically elected leadership (as far as is appropriate) but not think that ministers can make policy on a whim without reference to research and evidence ?

DuelingFanjo Tue 23-Apr-13 23:48:40

Hey Strix, nice to 'see' you. All well here. smile

fromparistoberlin Wed 24-Apr-13 08:18:11

I am suprised at the vitriol here! comment like "savages" and "she has a nanny", like...WHATEVER!!!

only this weekend a report came out saying that a huge amount of nurseries are substandard, and seeing an issue in the fact that nursery workers get minimum bloody wage. I dont think its acceptable.

For every great nursery, there is a shit one.

The situation needs to improve, and knee jerk reactions like this are so not helpful

and this is not about your children, this is about the many children that DONT have lovely MC mummies that read them the Gruffaolo every night

TiggyD Wed 24-Apr-13 08:25:26

"For every great nursery, there is a shit one."

I would say for every great one there are 3 or 4 shit ones and about 10 that are so-so.

I think there have many many excellent and thought provoking posts on this thread paris which any government minister, and especially Mrs Truss, could hugely benefit from reading (judging by her recent comments)

Certainly more helpful than the things she herself said, which is quite depressing really seeing as she's the minister responsible for child-care in our country I understand ?

fromparistoberlin Wed 24-Apr-13 08:49:09

juggling, I disagree

far too many personal comments IMO

Is that you Liz ? wink

fromparistoberlin Wed 24-Apr-13 09:08:20

he he, I aint Liz grin

TheRealMBJ Wed 24-Apr-13 09:21:38

My DS (3yo) is one of these 'savages'. He is incredibly strong willed and very single-minded in pursuit of his goal. His nursery is excellent. It is small (27 children all over 2yo) and activities are mostly child led. There is some structure, snack-time, story time and lunch are all set and shared activities, in which the children are expected to sit to eat snack/listen to story.

There are also a few guided activities a day (baking/weighing/counting/card making etc) which is led by an adult, but the children choose when to partake.

I am incredibly happy with the set up, there is just enough structure to start to teach DS to sit when he needs to, but mostly he is facilitated in learning through his own interests. He thoroughly enjoys his time at nursery and is learning to LOVE learning.

I want my child to WANT to learn and to enjoy it, and I don't believe he is going if he were forced to adhere to a structure that goes against his nature.

mmmerangue Wed 24-Apr-13 09:48:28

My sons' (in my eyes excellent) nursery is similar to MBJs here.

Whenever I go, the children are milling about in the play area. Because they are not going to be mid-activity at drop-off and pick up time are they, that would be stupid. Tearing DS away from a toy truck or sandbox is a lot easier than tearing him away mid cookie-baking or painting.

But he has the opportunity to play outside any day it's not chucking it down. They plant seeds in the garden and play water games. About once a week they all (about 12 in his age group with 2 leaders and one of the managers) trot round the corner to the playpark.

They are offered - but not forced - to bake/paint or draw/model plasticine/ collage etc at least 2 different activities every day. If the kids want to play with bricks or whatever instead then fine, we all know how much fun it is to try and get a 2 year old to do something they don't want to. Some weeks he paints a picture every day, sometimes he doesn't paint one for weeks. His muffins were great (can't get him interested at home...)

he is looking forward to his 2 full days as of next week and I am hoping they get him to eat wet food like pasta bake cause I fail at that too

fromparistoberlin Wed 24-Apr-13 13:51:05
DuelingFanjo Wed 24-Apr-13 14:51:43

Interesting - that still means the majority of nurseries are good or excellent.

How wonderful.

Wonderful too that there will be improvements to those that are currently only satisfactory, shame it's being done over 4 years though.

insancerre Wed 24-Apr-13 17:14:20

from the report
*Sir Michael said that one of the biggest problems with early years education is that too many of the workforce are under-qualified.

"We simply must get better qualified people working in the right areas in this sector," he said.

Those working with pre-school children should have at least a Level 3 qualification - equivalent to A-levels, Sir Michael suggested.*

This was recognised many years ago by the previous government and is not a new Tory idea.

No, their idea is to reduce the ratios and have more children and fewer adults as long as those adults have a maths and english gcse.

The early years has undergone a massive transformation over the last decade and was headong in the right direction of high quality provision being the norm . Until the funding was cut- funding for further training to degree level, training for professional development courses, funding for improvements to outside spaces at nurseries.
I am really fearful for the futre of early years under this government.
Their policies make no sense.

merrymouse Wed 24-Apr-13 22:36:58

I think Both Gove and Truss confuse childcare with education.

The needs of a child (in terms of freedom to choose activities and let off steam and amount of contact with a key adult) are different for a child who is at nursery from 7.30-6.30 and a child who only attends nursery for 3 hours a day.

TheRealMBJ Thu 25-Apr-13 07:11:45

Absolutely merrymouse absolutely.

I cannot imagine what he'll it must be for a child of 3 to be in a regimented environment for 12 hours a day.

TheRealMBJ Thu 25-Apr-13 07:11:57

Hell (obviously)

ReallyTired Thu 25-Apr-13 14:20:50

I think that Truss and Gove have been talking to my daughter

Me: What did you do at nursery?
dd: Nothing!

Nursery teacher hands me five pieces of art

OneLittleToddleTerror Thu 25-Apr-13 15:38:47

That link from the independent is interesting. Especially about only good and outstanding nurseries can stay. There aren't many around my area. I visited all of them. There were two good ones, and another couple of outstanding ones that will take babies. All of them have huge waiting lists. I'm not sure what would happen if all the satisfactory ones go under. Re-open under a different name so they have another 4 years?

AuntySammy Thu 25-Apr-13 23:09:23

I work in a nursery here ratios are 1 to 4 for 2 -3 year olds and 1 to 8 for 3 to 5 year olds. The EYFS dictates that there are 7 areas of learning - the old EYFS was 6, and Ofsted like learning through play but you must at all times provide opportunities for mark making - which leads to drawing and/or writing, looking at books, and water play.

The 2 year olds in my nursery have a routine but it is free flow play throughout that routine as the little side of the nursery is about building positive relationships with other children and with adults. The 3 -5 year olds have more structure in order to prepare them for school.

The Little Side routine is children arrive from 8am., free play. 8.30 am breakfast and free play. 9.30ish tidy up, and into the garden to play for half an hour in cold weather or upto an hour in warmer weather although children can choose to play indoors if they prefer. 10:30: Snack time. After snack the children play and do craft activities - they are free to choose what to play with from a range of activities set out on tables and when they do the daily craft activity. At this time any children in nappies have their nappy changed although if they poo they are changed as and when they need changing. Children who are toilet trained are free to use the toilet whenever they need to! Free play continues until 12pm when the children tidy up and then do singing. Children who go home at the end of the morning session are collected by parents around 12.30 children who stay for lunch begin eating at 12.15, their lunches are set out for them by staff.

The big side routine is arrive from 8am, breakfast around 8.30- children serve themselves, free play until 10ish,then free flow play for 30 minutes both inside and outside. At 10.30 the children have an assembly - they learn the day of the week, talk about the weather, learn the sound they are learning that week, and have a story and sing a song. At 11.00 A.M. the go into their small groups and have a snack practising manners, sharing news and giving out cups plates, fruit etc. This is followed by a structured activity until 12.15 when the children sit in a circle for the whole group singing time. At 12.30 the children eat their lunch if staying for the whole day/lunchtime session, children who only attend the morning session go home, and any children who attend the lunch and P.M. session arrive.

The afternoon session goes - 1pm all children into the garden to play - time in the garden varies according to the weather and how happy the children are. 1.30 p.m. children who go home from the am+lunch session are collected and children who attend the pm session arrive. Staff discuss children whilst supervising garden play and attending to parents dropping/collecting children, this ensures the best possible care for each individual child. From 1.30 until either 2pm or 3pm the children play outside and all help to put away garden toys when required. When children go indoors they are then settled for a story, whilst another staff member sets out afternoon toys and activities. There is then free flow play until 4pm during this time the older children are taken into another room to do a structured activity, and the younger children play. At 4pm everyone tidies up and then at 4.15 there is whole group singing followed by tea at 4.30. After tea there is more free play, stories, and collection by parents. Children can be collected by parents at any time during the afternoon up until 6pm when we close!

This may sound a lot to expect of children but it creates a calm atmospehere which improves children's behaviour. I worked previously in an unstructured nursery and it was choas - no set activities, no stimulation, no school preparation at all. The older children were bored and their behaviour was awful, in the end the nursery had less and less children as parents did not want that nursery and it was forced to close. On the other hand to much structure and overstimulation is equally bad for children - children need a balance of play and structured activities within a routine!

Nursery staff in Britain have to care for the children, plan weekly and daily activities, keep the children's learning journeys upto date, plan for the child's next steps of learning, comply with nursery policies, clean the nursery, deal with ill children, comply with Ofsted regulations, observe children, reassure children, reassure parents, work as a team, communicate with parents, do developmental checks just before a 3rd birthday, prepare healthy snacks, inform parents about funding, deal with minor injuries and fill in accident forms, help children with toileting, change nappies, change wet and/or soiled clothing, set out and clear away activities, and keep information updated on a child's well being! all this for the minimum hourly wage! To be honest upto 8 children is enough when you have to do all this and more children per adult means less time and attention for you and your child.

AuntySammy Thu 25-Apr-13 23:21:50

Oh yes one more thing the nursery I work in is part of the Pre-school Learning Alliance (PLA) and they are happy with the way we work, parents rave about us, children are happy - some don't want to go home, parents and grandparents alike are happy. Nurseries are also regulated by ITERS for 2 year old children and they asses how you interact with children, use of natural materials, age apporiate activities, routines etc. Our ITERS score was very high as they were very pleased and we were meeting all their requirements. Nurseries with high ITERS scores usually secure the 2 year old funding for parents who are eligible to claim it for their child. The provision for 3 year olds is regulated by someone else - again no problems there. All educational establishments and childcare is regulated by Ofsted - our ofsted grading was 'Good' with elements of 'Outstanding'

kunoichi Thu 25-Apr-13 23:42:56

I first saw this story on the front of the Mail where the sensationalist headline clearly misquoted Miss Trust in order to twist the real story and agitate parents. I've yet to read a full transcript of everything she said, but would like to.

Like several others in this thread, I believe there are certain "lessons" children should be encouraged to take on board while at nursery - not "education" in the formal sense, but such things as basic manners; how to respond to adults; some basic skills for social interaction. I most certainly would not expect a two year old to be interested in learning to writ their own name, but by four I'd hope they'd feel confident enough to try.

My two older children (now 16 and 8) were lucky to attend what I believe to be excellent nurseries, with some structured time and lots of unrestricted play (but with interaction and discussion from nursery staff). I've been looking at recommended nurseries recently in preparation for sending my youngest (currently 18 months old, though I don't plan on him attending until he's two). I'm a WAHM but am finding it increasingly difficult to meet his needs and still meet my work quota.

My personal preference is for DS2 to attend a nursery where the staff are well-qualified, with the majority having experience. IMO early years childcare is of great importance in laying a foundation for school - like it or not, our children are expected to attend school when they are four, and I hope for DS2 to find this an enjoyable experience based on his experience in a nursery setting.

I have looked at a couple of nurseries where the majority of staff have barely left school and are "becoming qualified on the job" and feel uneasy leaving my precious one in such a setting. Far better if the majority are qualified so the inexperienced staff can learn from their experience and direction. As another on this thread has explained, a good nursery teacher can create structure around free play through careful planning and organisation. An environment where children are free to explore their interests and yet still be stimulated/learn social skills is for me the ideal. Absolute free play results in a chaotic environment and stressed nursery teachers which is far from the nurturing environment any parent would want their child to be involved in.

AuntySammy Fri 26-Apr-13 00:17:07

Kuniochi - at the nursery I work in we plan activities weekly and daily based on the children's interests. We set out the daily planned activities during our free play times - each day is planned differentluy dependent on both our weekly theme - this comes from the letter and sound of the week and what the children express that they are interested in learning about. For example when learning letter A the children choose to learn about apples - so group time activities (which are adult led) for a week were based upon apples!!!!! but individual activities during free play are planned entirely upon children's interests and adult and child led free play and structured activities are based upon these to build a child's learning experiences. At all times during a child's nursery education we build positive relationships with children and help them to build positive relationships and friendships with other children, encourage turn taking and sharing, promote and build social skills, and teach and practise good manners.

merrymouse Fri 26-Apr-13 11:34:24

Interestingly my son went to a very calm, structured nursery (in the sense that there were very clear routines and expectations about behaviour.) However his reception class was very chaotic, mainly because due to lack of school places in the borough, his class didn't have a classroom and the school was in crisis management mode.

Funding for a new secondary school was pulled when the conservatives came into power. Since then Gove has rolled out all sorts of new initiatives, but still hasn't confirmed how/whether secondary places for my son's year group will be funded.

As I understand it this situation is common across London and other areas. My son will enter year 7 in 2015. Luckily we have moved to a different area so it won't be a problem for us then. I can only assume that Gove is assuming that government won't be his responsibility then either.

TheRealMBJ Fri 26-Apr-13 17:08:33

AuntySammy that sounds a lot like DS's nursery schedule, but I still consider that free play as the child chooses which activity to engage in within structure. You don't sit them down and say, 'Now is painting time, sit down, keep quiet and create!'

SouthernPolish Sun 28-Apr-13 09:29:14

On this thread you can see that one or two people like the system in France (or other European countries) and that they also have a massive downer on UK nurseries (but also have very limited awareness/research of nurseries throughout the UK) and almost no knowledge at all about what Childminders do.

Well - that's absolutely fine for a harmless post on Mumsnet - that's what we are here for - and let's face it, our posts don't amount to much Nationally - but:

Imagine if one of the posters wielded an extraordinary amount of power and could actually change (ie: decimate) the UK Childcare system within a matter of months?

That's what the current situation with Truss amounts to....
Did you know she has visited only 6 Nurseries and 0 Childminders and just a handful of settings in Europe? A recent request by Sharon Osbourne MP has revealed that Truss has conducted a pathetic amount of research into Childcare before steaming ahead with catestrophic changes.

The Childcare sector is absolutely demoralised at present - I am a Childminder and know many who plan to throw the towel in or are winding down.

1 June is planned to be a day of action (don't worry - it's a Saturday - we aren't YET planning on bringing the country to a standstill).

We need to stand together - parents and childcare sector.

Truss must be stopped before its too late.

Truss does not care - she will be on to the next plan within. a year or two - this is all about personal ambition, money saving and politics. It has nothing to do with children at all.

SouthernPolish Sun 28-Apr-13 09:31:29

Did anyone spot my hilarious mistake above!!!!
Sharon Hodgson MP!!!!
(Osbourne - Blimey! imagine THAT?!

SouthernPolish Sun 28-Apr-13 09:34:17

See link here:

SouthernPolish Sun 28-Apr-13 09:35:50
mindingalongtime Mon 29-Apr-13 13:04:17

southern have sent you a pm and posted on your triple buggy thread!

hrwaldram Tue 21-May-13 12:00:20

Hi everyone, we've got experts from the NCT and Lullaby Trust answering questions on the Guardian here if anyone wants to join in and report back here afterwards:

hrwaldram Tue 21-May-13 12:00:59

Experts from the NCT and Lullaby Trust are answering questions here:

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