The Foundation Years

In the summary of the report on ‘The Foundation Years’ it says: We have found overwhelming evidence that children’s life chances are most heavily predicated on their development in the first five years of life. It is family background, parental education, good parenting and the opportunities for learning and development in those crucial years that together matter more to children than money, in determining whether their potential is realised in adult life.

I could not, would not refute that for one moment but find myself worrying, yet again, whether institutional interventions are the solution to ensuring that ‘poor children’ do not become ‘poor adults’.  I urge those concerned with trying to square this circle that they look elsewhere for solutions rather than close to home. There is a chance here that institutionalised interventions could actually be counter-productive to the goal and that in its attempt to move one thing forward there is a trend in moving others back.

There is one aspect of the debate interests me and that is this idea that : The Department for Education, in conjunction with Children’s Centres, should develop a model for professional development in early years settings, looking to increase graduate-led pre school provision, which mirrors the model for schools.

The implication being that someone with a degree will be better able to support the most needy. The concept/statement that: The strategy should include a commitment that all disadvantaged children should have access to affordable full-time, graduate-led childcare from age two. Suggests that there is a degree qualification for this support and that this will make it more viable and stable. There is also the problem here of suggesting, by implication, that availing these children of full time care away from their parents or ‘natural’ carers, would be good for both parents and children. How does this help the self-image of adults trying to become good parents?

Last week at the ALTC 2010 Conference Sugata Mitra spoke of the ‘Grandma’ role in bringing up children. The concept here he suggested was “the grandmother method” – stand behind, admire, act fascinated and praise.

How does this square with the organised, institutionalised model being put forward by Frank Field’s report?

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