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Column 30th May 2018

How is pre-school provision meeting national guidance?

Earlier this year, the front page of the Herald reported the closure of North Drive Pre-School in Grove.

In the same paper there was a report on Grovelands Park Pre-School which had been rated as inadequate by Ofsted.

As the leader column said, “would you rather send your children to a nursery that has been rated as ‘inadequate’ or not send them to nursery at all?”

In March 2017 the Department for Education (DfE) published guidance for Local Authorities specifying the outcomes they are looking for:

  • that all children are able to take up their free hours in a high quality setting;
  • that fair and transparent funding supports a diverse range of providers to deliver free places on a sustainable basis;
  • that parents are able to work because childcare places are available, accessible and affordable and are delivered flexibly in a range of high quality settings; and
  • that high quality provision amongst providers is promoted.

Also, the European Commission analysed cross-national evidence to conclude “access to universally available, high-quality inclusive early childhood education and care services… not only helps children to unlock their potential but can also contribute to engaging parents and other family members with related measures to improve employment, job-related training, parent education, and leisure-time activities.”

So early years are a crucial time in every child’s life and good childcare provision can help to transform children’s lives.

Yet in our area, where much childcare provision shares premises with primary schools, space and facilities are getting squeezed.

We hear that talks which had been going on for about 3 years between St Mary’s Convent in Wantage and Camel Pre-School for a new building on Convent land for Camel have broken down because “the Convent has other plans for the use of their money and land”.

This leaves the Pre-School with detailed plans for a new building and no land or money to fund it.

The government says it is putting more money into early years provision and in the 2017-2018 financial year the DfE introduced a new early years funding formula. This stipulates how much funding each Local Authority will receive from the DfE in respect of free childcare.

Yet without land or suitable buildings, there is a lack of facilities available.

Lack of suitable, affordable inclusive early childhood education and care means that many parents/carers rely on relatives, friends or neighbours to look after their children. This doesn’t meet DFE or EU guidance.


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