What I find so dispiriting about our country’s form of democracy is the realisation that policy is being formulated and implemented on the whim of individual politicians. Thus, we are currently living through the enactment of Michael Gove’s vision for education in the UK.
Similarly, we were headed down the LibDem branch of the coalition’s concept of early years care and education under Sarah Teather, a goal that seemed to be going in a direction based on consultation and the views of practitioners.
Governments have commissioned worthwhile reviews into practice. These have been led by respected individuals. They have involved research, consultation and evaluation. In the main, their recommendations have been well received –
The EYFS review under Claire Tickell resulted in what is generally accepted as a more focused curriculum, with its emphasis on the key development areas; Cathy Nutbrown’s report emphasised the importance of qualified and knowledgeable staff in the Early Years sector; both the Allen report on early intervention and the Field report on poverty have highlighted the need for high quality care in the early years.
And now we have Liz Truss’s policy making on the hoof, where under the guise of the Childcare Commission, all of this expertise, consultation and analysis is being ignored, seemingly based on her own personal feelings about the high cost of childcare.
I have yet to hear a childcare practitioner who supports increasing the ratios. No provider, commentator or indeed parent has welcomed the proposals. No one that I have heard or read has stated that care quality will not be reduced following the proposed increased number of children per adult.
Common sense suggests that with only 1 brain, 2 hands, 2 eyes and 2 ears, there is a finite number of interactions 1 adult can have with children, regardless of the individual’s qualification level. He/she can only change 1 nappy at a time; engage in conversation with 1 toddler at a time and sustain shared thinking with 1, possibly 2-3 individuals at any one time.
The qualitative nature of these interactions may vary dependent on the knowledge and skill level of the practitioner but the quantity of interactions is dependent on the physical limitations of the ability of 1 human being to communicate with others.
So when did we give Elizabeth Truss a mandate to change the ratios unilaterally?
When did we, as a nation, take this decision for the good of our children?
When were we offered a debate on the options available to us and a chance to vote for our preference?
Did I miss something?