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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?

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

Clickable link:

mindingalongtime Mon 29-Apr-13 13:04:17

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

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