This essay will identify the range of early years settings involved in the care and education of young children. Then discuss the roles and responsibilities of the professional workers involved in the setting. The essay will also evaluate the curricula appropriate to two different settings that will be focused on. The essay will culminate with a personal statement.
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First, the history of education of young children will be reflected upon. When the Education system first started and when children became important. Focusing on Education legislation, (historical to present day). Also looking at the various types of Early Year education provisions and the professionals that work in the provisions and their roles. Followed by a discussion on theorists that have had an impact upon Early Years provision. Next, there will be a discussion on social care and health care legislation which is affiliated to the support of children’s health and safety (historical to present day). Looking at the range of health care settings for early years. Discussing the various health professionals and their roles in relation to health care. Subsequently, the essay will look at management styles of the different settings using a reflection diary and identify the role of the professionals that work in various setting, discussing the definition of reflective practice and the importance of reflective practice. Finally, conclusions will be drawn as to whether the objectives have been met.
Pre 1870 there was no organised system of education. Some children attended schools run by charities and churches or dame schools (called because they were run by women) for young children. There were fee paying schools for those rich enough to afford them. In early Victorian England, most children never went to school at all and grew up unable to read or write. Instead they were sent out to work to earn money for their families. Only the upper and middle class children went to school.
It wasn’t until 1880 that schooling became mandatory. All children had to attend a school until they were ten years old. In 1889, the school leaving age was raised to twelve, and in 1891, the school’s pence fee was abolished and schools became free.
Children were first considered important to society after the Victorian era (1837-1901). The era has been described as a source of the modern institution of childhood. Ironically, the Industrial Revolution during this era led to an increase in child labour, but due to the campaigning of the evangelicals, and efforts of author Charles Dickens (1812- 1870) and others, child labour was gradually reduced and halted in England via the Factory Acts of 1802-1878. The Victorians emphasized the role of the family and the sanctity of the child, this attitude has remained dominant in Western societies since then.
The needs and welfare of children today are met through a series of polices and legislation which aims to protect and provide for their welfare. These policies are informed and underpinned by historical policies and legislation.
The first legislation passed by the government to protect the children of the country was The Factory Act passed by the Government in 1833. It was intended to improve conditions for children working in factories. It introduced a compulsory two hours schooling each day for children. This was the first time that children of all backgrounds in the UK had access to education.
Thirty seven years after the Factory Act of 1833, the Elementary Education Act of 1870 provided education on an extraordinary scale. This new law set up mass primary education (education for everyone). It was introduced because the government was worried that the working class was becoming revolutionary and also because it was thought that Britain’s economy we falling behind the rest of the world.
The 1880 Education Act made school attendance compulsory for all children up to the age of ten. The school education boards were abolished under the 1902 Education Act. In their place Local Educational Authorities (LEAs) were created to organize funding, employ teachers and allocate school places.
During the 1920s and 1930s Sir Henry Hadow (1859-1937) was responsible for several important reports on education in England. In 1926, a report entitled The Education of the Adolescent looked at primary education in detail for the first time. It prioritized activity and experience, rather than rote learning and discussed, for the first time, the specific needs of children with learning difficulties. The report also made the important recommendation of limiting class sizes to a maximum of thirty children. In 1931, another report was published: The Primary School was influenced by the educational ideas of Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget and advocated a style of teaching based on children’s interests.
The 1944 Education Act saw the introduction of the tripartite system. Devised by Conservative MP Rab Butler (1902-1982), the Act introduced three different types of school: Grammar schools for the more academic pupil, Secondary Modern schools for a more practical, non-academic style of education and Technical schools for specialist practical education. Pupils were allocated to a particular type of school by taking an examination called the 11 Plus, which was also introduced under the Act. Secondary education now became free for all and the school-leaving age rose to 15.
The Plowden Report is the unofficial name for the 1967 report of the Central Advisory Council for Education (England) into Primary Education. The report was called Children and their Primary Schools and was named after the chair of the Council, Lady Bridget Plowden (1910-2000). It observed that new skills were needed in society, stating that, ‘the qualities needed in a modern economy extend far beyond skills such as accurate spelling and arithmetic’. They include greater curiosity and adaptability, a high level of aspiration, and others which are difficult to measure’. (The Plowden Report 1967; Chapter 31; p433; verse 1175).
The National Curriculum was introduced in the 1988 Education Act. It made all education the same for state-funded schools, ensuring that all pupils had access to a basic level of education. A selection of subjects were made compulsory including Mathematics, English, Science and some form of Religious Education. It also introduced sex education for the first time.
The 2002 Education Act introduced the existing Foundation stage to become a new stage of the National Curriculum and Nursery education became inspected by Ofsted.
There are many different types of organizations offering Early Years Education and childcare. There are independent private settings working for profit owned by companies or individuals, ranging from large nursery chains with hundreds of settings to owner-manager with only one setting.
The nursery manager and deputy manager in all of these settings have the same responsibilities they are responsible for ensuring the nursery provides the best possible standards of care and education; ensuring the environment is safe and secure, where the children are valued as individuals through a loving and child centred approach in all aspects of the way the nursery is run. It is also the manager’s responsibility to ensure that the children have access to learning opportunities throughout their time at the nursery; providing learning activities which are educational, stimulating and fun. The Nursery staff need to have the correct level of qualification to work with children. Also they are required to have a working knowledge of Ofsted standards and the ability to work in partnership with parents.
Workplace nurseries are classed within the private sector even though they may be run for the benefit of particular employees the professionals working there still need to have all the relevant qualifications to work with the children.
Nannies and child minders are similar. Nannies are sometimes self-employed, but more often are employees of a family. Some nannies work for agencies.
Childminders are self-employed individuals working from home. Ofsted require childminders and nannies to carry out a Paediatric first-aid course (first aid for children) as well as introductory courses in childminding.
Voluntary sector comprises groups operated by a voluntary management committee and run for the benefit of the community rather than for profit (e.g. pre-school playgroups, parent/toddler groups, community day nurseries and sure start centres). Despite its name, most workers in the voluntary sector are paid employees, not volunteers.
Public sector provision includes school-based services, such as nursery classes, and nursery schools, local authority day nurseries and nursery centres. These setting will have to have a trained Nursery teachers and a nursery nurses.
The entire list of professionals mentioned above will have to have an enhanced Criminal Records Disclosure (CRB) and are required by law by anyone who works with children.
In England 1700-1800 people became reformers and saw that they weren’t benefitting from the lifestyle. England was the first country in the world to undergo the Industrial Revolution and it created large numbers of working class people. A key figure that recognised the way children were treated was Robert Owen (1771-1858), he was a utopian radical socialist reformed mill owner who set up crèches for the children of his workers as well as housing and health facilities. His reform began around 1816.
Pestalozzi (1745-1827) an Italian educationalist attempted to recognise the stages of development in children’s education. In 1836 the Pestalozzian Centre of Home and Colonel Education Infant school society began training teachers for infant schools in its college in London.
Also very influential was the kindergarten movement. Froebel (1782-1852) first opened in England in 1851. Froebel’s vision was to educate the whole child, outdoor activities played significant part, but his vision was of the children as plants in the garden of school flowering and blossoming under the correct care and attention as you would a plant.
Gradually though more precise nature of Froebel’s pedagogy and philosophies got taken over by a wider emphasis on play combined with domestic tasks as defined by the theorists of psychologists Stanley Hall (1884-1924) and John Dewey (1859-1952). Also these kindergartens were rescuers of the children of the urban poor so teachers became more like social workers.
Another significant figure was Maria Montessori (1870-1952). Her work came to be seen as more a preserve of middle class private nurseries. Originally she worked with deprived children in Naples and aimed to develop cognitive physical linguistic social and self care skills through carefully structured play activities and equipment. She was a big advocate of natural material such as wooden blocks, sandpaper letters and thought that too many brightly coloured toys and pictures could over stimulate the children. Children were taught to concentrate on one activity then put it away and move on to the next activity.
During the First and the Second World War committees argued the importance of child care. Margaret McMillan (1860-1931) and Rachel McMillan (1859-1917) were Christian socialists and were the originators of the Nursery School concept. In 1913 the first open aired nursery was opened in London, it focused on sense training and the health of the young children. Sand, water, clay and paint were used and free cooked meals were given and the children were encouraged to enjoy fresh air as much as possible with covered area outside.
In 1960 the Playgroup Movement (1961-1987) was started by Belle Tutaev. She started a Campaign for Nursery Education and organised a petition collecting three and a half thousand signatures that she sent to those in authority. She wrote letters to Councillors and knocked on doors pleading for some provision to be made for the under fives. So, being a trained teacher, she decided to ‘do it herself ‘! She hired a hall, raised funds and opened her own Nursery/Playgroup. It proved such a success that she felt sure others could do as she had done, so she penned a letter to ‘The Guardian’ that appeared on 25 August 1961. A small committee was formed and the National Association of Pre-school Playgroups was formally constituted on 10 July 1962 and registered as a charity.
Historically, child health surveillance and screening have been central to monitoring children’s health and development (Luker and Orr 1996; Hall and Elliman, 2004). There is no doubt that health throughout life is influenced by the experiences in early years of childhood. Recent government policy has highlighted the importance of health professionals working with families and children to improve their health outcomes (Acheson, 1998).
Looking back at past legislation there have been indications since the Industrial Revolution of the need to protect children. In 1834 New Poor Law placed duty on parents to protect their children. The children not cared for would be looked after by the state as an apprentice. The aim of the Act was to reduce poverty but in fact perpetuated it. The children were also still counted as the father’s property with their welfare in his hands. This would not change until Children’s Law Reform Act 1990.
1847 Public Health Act aimed at improving the environment and children’s health, education added to local authority’s responsibility. The Act laid foundations for today’s health provisions.
The late 19th century was a time of social deprivation and great hardship for many children. On 8 July 1884, The London Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was established. Lord Shaftesbury (1801-1885) was appointed as president and the Reverend Benjamin Waugh (1839-1908) and Reverend Edward Rudolf (1852-1933) as joint honorary secretaries. Waugh was to be significant in shaping the Society’s future. After witnessing the levels of deprivation and child cruelty in Greenwich, London where he lived, Waugh’s urgent priority was to draw public and government attention to the plight of children. At the 1889 annual general meeting the Society changed its name to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
By 1945 we had uniformed child welfare services, but local authorities continued to hold overall responsibility for social care or services and child care. Legislation aimed at evolving the development of children’s rights and care embedded in health, education and social care legislation, but childhood becoming more and more regulated and controlled.
Political theorists of this time such as Mill (1773-1836) and Locke (1632-1704) lobbied for the protection of children whilst Paine (1737-1809) and Neill (1883-1973) campaigned for the liberation of children.
Currently there are over 4,000 non-statutory agencies worldwide, helping millions of people and children, none of whom are part of any government organisation (Harrison 2004, in Wyse, 2004).
As Stone and Rixon (2008)state in (Foley and Rixon, 2008), the drive for services to work more closely together is not a new phenomenon, it has existed as long as there have been different groups of people providing services to families.
In his 2003 report into the death of Victoria Climbie, Lord Laming highlighted the need for all parties involved in the care and education to engage in more collaborative working practices. His enquiry led to enhanced legislation, as the findings of the report were incorporated into update of the Children Act (2004) and in response to the recommendations, the Every Child Matters green paper was published in 2003.
The reports became fundamental to the development of child health services. They required health professionals and families to form relationships of ‘partnership rather than supervision’, in which parents could be empowered to make use of services and expertise according to their needs. The Fourth Edition of Health For All Children (Hall and Elliman 2004), included recommendations for a streamlined surveillance programme, with even greater emphasis on health promotion and primary prevention.
Although the health of children is predominantly a parental responsibility, society has a vested interest in ensuring that parents are supported to improve the health and well-being of their children. This will help to ensure the needs and rights of our children are respected.
There are five main types of children’s services there are Health services, Social services, Education and Leisure and Recreation. The health services that are available in schools for children are mainly School Nurses and support workers, working in a team or network to offer needs based approach to the provision of healthcare within schools for children. School Nurses have a public health role with school-aged children, their families, schools and the surrounding communities to promote health.
Also there is the early years and health visiting service. This service refers to multi disciplinary early years teams delivering a family centered public health role. The services that hospitals provide are General paediatrics. This service refers to all non-tertiary hospital based activity. Maternity staff also cover Antenatal care, Intrapartum care, and Post natal care.
The Health Visitor is a qualified registered nurse, midwife or psychiatric nurse with specialist qualifications in community health, which includes child health, health promotion and education. The role involves promoting health in the whole community and the health visitor is particularly involved with families who have children under five. Every family has a named health visitor, the role is to offer support and encouragement to families through the early years from pregnancy and birth to primary school and beyond. They work closely with GP’s and cover the geographical area of the GP practice. Most health visitor’s work alongside midwives preparing parents for the birth of their baby by their involvement in pre-birth classes.
One of the practical placements visited was a preschool. The preschool was without a manager at present so the deputy manager was in charge. There were eight members of staff all female, only one was a full time member of staff. The preschool is situated at the back of the school in a porter cabin, it does have all the facilities needed for the children but could use an update.
A definition of a preschool or a play school is to be an educational institution for children too young for elementary school. For parents, it is a common place where toddlers meet, play and spend time together under the supervision of qualified adults. It is also where the children gain experience to enable them to transition into reception class.
The pre-school deputy manager’s role is to provide inclusive play and learning opportunities for all children attending and to maintain a safe, stimulating and enjoyable environment. She or he will assist the pre-school manager in curriculum planning within the pre-school. They will manage the provision in the absence of the pre-school manager.
The Statutory Framework for Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) states that all early years providers must by law deliver, regardless of type, size or funding of the setting, follow the EYFS framework. The EYFS comprises a set of welfare requirements and a set of learning and development requirement that all childcare providers must comply with. (Ref)
The second practical placement visited was an Ormiston Children’s Centre. Ormiston is the biggest children’s charity in the East of England. They work to improve the wellbeing of children, young people and their families, whatever their circumstances. The Ormiston Centre is an exciting community project with excellent facilities for supporting children, young people and families through a range of health promoting physical activities, sport and learning opportunities. The emphasis is on providing fun activities which promote physical and social well-being rather than ability or excellence.
The service manager of Ormiston Centre Colchester states that, “as service manager I have responsibility to develop play and learning and address issues related to childcare. With this in mind I have close contact with all pre-school, parent and toddler groups. I help to develop good practice built on experience and identify support where appropriate”.
The author assessed her own placement settings and found that the management styles were allot different from each setting. The evidence of this was discovered by observing the the different styles of management at both settings and comparing them (see appendix 1 and 2). Looking at the different style the author focused on three areas: all round management, sudden decision making and involvement with the children. Also looking at the three main categories of leadership styles: autocratic, paternalistic and democratic and observing which category the different placement managers follow.
Autocratic managers like to make all the important decisions and closely supervise and control workers. Managers do not trust workers and simply give orders (one-way communication) that they expect to be obeyed. (Ref). This approach derives from the views of Taylor (1856-1915) as to how to motivate workers and relates to McGregor’s (1906 – 1964) theory X view of workers. This approach has limitations (as highlighted by other motivational theorists such as Mayo (1880-1949) and Herzberg (1923-2000) but it can be effective in certain situations.
Paternalistic managers give more attention to the social needs and views of their workers. Managers are interested in how happy workers feel and in many ways they act as a father figure. (Ref). They consult employees over issues and listen to their feedback or opinions. The manager will however make the actual decisions. The style is closely linked with Mayo’s Human Relation view of motivation and also the social needs of Maslow (1908 – 1970).
A democratic style of management will put trust in employees and encourage them to make decisions. They will delegate to them the authority to do this and listen to their advice. This requires good two-way communication and often involves democratic discussion groups, which can offer useful suggestions and ideas. Managers must be willing to encourage leadership skills in subordinates. (Ref). This style has close links with Herzberg’s motivators and Maslow’s higher order skills and also applies to McGregor’s theory Y view of workers.
Looking at appendix 1 the observations of the deputy manager’s behaviour on page 17-19 confirms the author’s opinion that within the preschool the management style seems to be extremely autocratic. This could be down to not enough training, lack of confidence or negligence of position. Comparing this attitude to Taylor’s theory of Scientific Management argued the idea that workers are motivated mainly by pay. This could be the case at the preschool as the management doesn’t seem to get involved with the children which is the main reason that professionals are present. As stated earlier the deputy manager’s role is to provide inclusive play and learning opportunities for all children in a stimulating and enjoyable environment. This doesn’t seem to be happening.
When observing the management style of the Ormiston manager it seems that she understands her role and has a great deal of passion for the position. After carful observation it felt like the management style of the Ormiston manager was paternalistic with a little witnessing of a democratic style. This can be seen in appendix 2 on page 20. In fact, comparing these two different management styles it appeared to the author that the management style of the Ormiston Centre seemed more successful than that of the preschool. Hopefully the preschool will obtain a manager to fill the position soon.
Reflective practice is not a new concept. Boud, Keogh and Walker (1985) stated twenty years ago that it features the individual and his or her experiences, leading to a new theoretical view or understanding. They included the element of learning, as well as involvement of the self, to define reflective practice: “Reflection is a forum of response of the learner to experience” (Boud et al. 1985, page18). Johns and Freshwater (1998) also described the value of reflective practice as a means of learning.
“Reflection is a process of reviewing an experience of practice in order to describe, analyse, evaluate and so inform learning about practice” (Reid, 1993 p.305).
“Reflective practice is something more than thoughtful practice. It is that form of practice that seeks to problematise many situations of professional performance so that they can become potential learning situations and so the practitioners can continue to learn, grow and develop in and through practice” (Jarvis, 1992 p.180).
According to the educator Professor David Boud, effective learning will not occur unless you reflect. To do this, you must think of a particular moment in time, ponder over it, go back through it and only then will you gain new insights into different aspects of that situation. According to Kolb (1984) reflecting is an essential element of learning. This is shown through an experiential learning cycle.
To conclude, the range of early year’s settings involved in the health care and education of young children has been explored by examining the history of education and the history of the health service using legislation and key theorists. The essay has also examined management within the settings and the various roles of professionals working with different settings and how government legislation has changed over time.
It has been learnt that it is essential that all families and children are aware of the different types of education and health care services provided in the early stages of child development and that there are a lot of different settings available to all different needs and backgrounds. Also that a good management style in child care is fundamental in producing an all round successful setting no matter what the circumstances.
For future practice the key points that the author has taken away is that there are a lot of different professionals out there that are able to offer the support and help that is needed for young children and parents to have successful and happy lives. Also that a successful manager is not all about paper work, delegation and targets. It’s about getting stuck in to all areas of Early Years and proving to yourself and your staff that you are a team.
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