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Tuesday 11th February 2014 – Cheryl Hadland, Managing Director of Tops Day Nurseries with 15 branches across the South of England, has spoken out against the announcement that schools are being pushed to create on-site nurseries for two year-olds.
The government is currently in the process of changing the law to make it easier for schools to take younger children in a bid to ease the shortage of childcare. However the suggestion has been branded by some as a ludicrous attempt to save money.
Here’s what Cheryl Hadland has to say on the matter:
This is an outrageous and extremely worrying announcement, not only for day nurseries but for our country’s future. Schools in the UK already take children far earlier than anywhere else in the world, yet our teenagers perform worse than the vast majority of the leading nations worldwide and are going down the chart not up.
School is proven to be a far from perfect place for older children, so why make ever younger children go too? And yet Liz Truss has already written to every local authority in England to ask them take children into school even younger. My opinion is that this is the exact opposite of what our children need.
2 year olds are very active learners, even more active than the 4 and 5 year olds whom schools are currently making sit down for long periods to “learn” when they would far rather be, and indeed need to be, exploring and learning about their world with their whole little bodies. Ask your average primary and secondary school child what the best part of their day was and it will usually be break time - that says a lot doesn’t it?
Children are competent learners if we let them be competent in the appropriate environment. Please don’t allow the government to send our 2 year olds to school as well. LET THEM PLAY. That’s how they learn best, being active with the support and guidance of loving, attentive, adults - adults who they can bond to and who are there for them during their day, adults who enable them to investigate, and explore, and who can share excitement about sand, water, mud and anything messy!
Our 2 year olds are learning about their own body coordination as well as starting to interact with other children and adults. They are taking an active part not only in stories and music, but in daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, eating, and going to the toilet, handwashing and healthy eating, learning about being a girl or a boy. They need cuddles and cosy sleep times and quiet times as well as play time, not “school”. They need respect and appreciation. What experience do schools have of providing these things to children – of any age?
Current schools typically discharge higher numbers of disengaged young people than at any point in our history - children suffering from mental health issues, unable to go into work, training or further education after school, unable to cope with adult life, disrespectful of belongings and the people around them. Why make it even worse by making them go to school even earlier? Schools would have to change so much to provide a suitable environment for 2 year olds that they would have to start from nothing. It’s a really bad idea!
Why not support the current provision for 2 year olds in the form of day nurseries, childminders, parent and toddler groups and help us more? Help provide training and resources for parents and extended family, foster parents, and for all those who work with 2 year olds. Help universities research what 2 year olds need and to communicate best practice rather than tell schools, who currently have no expertise in 2 year olds whatsoever, to have them.