Welcome

Welcome to the Author Blog for Sheila Nutkins. Here you will find information and Sheila's own thoughts and opinions on topical issues relating to early childhood education and care.

Friday, 13 December 2013

UN post-2015 development goals

The University of Northampton are launching a short film to continue to push for the need to place Early Childhood Development at the heart of the United Nations post-2015 development goals. It is being shown at the United Nations in New York this afternoon as well. We are determined to raise the profile of this agenda if we can. It is up on twitter #Uni4Children http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6twHsJD864

Conference on 'Meaningful Risk'

Taking Meaningful Risks A one day learning event for leaders, managers and policy makers. Glasgow, 30 Jan 2014 TAKING MEANINGFUL RISKS 30th Jan 2014, 9:30am–4:30pm Scottish Youth Theatre 105 Brunswick Street Glasgow G1 1TF TICKETS range from £58 to £110 depending on sector and are available at: www.meaningfulrisks.eventbrite.co.uk

Friday, 25 October 2013

Teachers - qualified or not?

It was interesting listening to the debate on the TV news programmes yesterday about whether teachers even need to be qualified, particularly on Question Time. Actually it would be more exact to say it was depressing! Of course there are some people who are more natural teachers than others and of course there is always a place for the expert to enhance teaching and learning, particularly in certain areas such as music - sometimes an expert is also a natural teacher and can impart their specific skills and knowledge very well. However, this argument in favour of unqualified teachers appears to be based on a few random successes in the 174 Free Schools (that model adopted from Sweden just at the point the Swedes had decided it really wasn't working), not on the outcomes in 21,000 other state schools. In the debate on Question Time it became clear that, as usual all the panellists were basing their arguments around their own experience and the focus was almost entirely on Secondary education and the 'end game' of passing exams and getting to University. I was reminded of Sir Ken Robinson's first talk on TED when he says how everyone feels they know all about education because, after all, they have been to school themselves! Only Owen Jones mentioned at one point '5 year olds' when he rightly argued that success or failure in school (certainly on the terms being discussed)was more about starting points and socio-economic factors ... nobody else, notably not Liz Truss, Minister for Children, picked up on his points. It would be so refreshing and exciting to hear some politicians and journalists talking intelligently about the vital early years and about the highly qualified and specifically qualified teachers young children, particularly those growing up in socially deprived environments really need. I would refer anyone not convinced to the HighScope research, the findings of James Heckman (economist) and a number of recent reports across countries. Reports from OECD show that those countries most successful in terms of education and children's wellbeing emphasise the early years and the qualifications of those charged with the education and care of the very young.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Petition to UN

Today Tessa Jowell and Ivan Lewis launched a petition which aims to take to the campaign to support the youngest children to the next level. With your support they hope that the UN will ensure a commitment to early childhood development is at the heart of the new post-2015 development framework. I hope that you will be able to sign the petition and share with your friends and networks. Only with broad support will we be able to ensure that every child, no matter where they live in the world, will have the best start in life. Go to http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/un-secretary-general-ban-ki-moon-and-un-member-states-put-early-childhood-development-at-the-heart-of-the-new-post-2015-development-framework-with-targets-that-promise-all-children-care-support-and-services-which-work-together-for-the-best-start-in-l

Friday, 20 September 2013

Project Wild Thing

An interesting project called 'Project Wild Thing' resulting from the rather shocking statistic that The roaming radius of British children — i.e.. the distance they wander from their home — has shrunk by 90 per cent in the last 30 years
It’s a disheartening statistic, but one that has inspired award-winning filmmaker David Bond, who, keen for future generations not to miss out on the magic of the great outdoors, dreamed up PROJECT WILD THING.
The film itself is only one part of Bond’s campaign, which enlists a number of scientists, nature experts, sociologists, as well as the National Trust, to set about selling nature to kids.
Conscious that it will take more than eulogising to prise them away from their TVs and games consoles, Bond also recruits a marketing team to lend their branding savvy and repackage the countryside.
A charming exercise in creative, socially-minded activism, PROJECT WILD THING is a grass-roots triumph.  From http://www.picturehouses.co.uk/film/Project_Wild_Thing/#.Ujt0VBR9-_Q.facebook
Relates to chapter 3 and the issue of play and risk taking in children's development and learning.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Children and Young People's Bill

“One of the most reported elements of the forthcoming Children and Young People Bill is the promise of 600 hours of state funded early learning and childcare for every three and four- year- old, and for looked after 2 year olds – an increase from the 475 hour legal minimum currently provided to every three and four year old. While this is an important step on the road to Scotland having world-class early education and care, the Bill makes no mention of out of school care, which is currently a non-statutory service. Out of school care for young children can be a costly headache for parents, particularly at this time of year.” Jackie Brock, Chief Executive, Children in Scotland I agree that out of school care is an issue and a problem for many parents but I am not sure it comes under the 'umbrella' of this Bill or needs to be made a statutory service. There is a danger that the state is seen as bearing the major responsibility for care as well as the education of children when really the responsibility for both should remain firmly with parents who will always have the most influence. It is an ongoing conundrum - how to provide for equal opportunities aznd particularly the most vulnerable withoout destroying the most important structures in our society.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Brain development and teaching and learning

There is increased understanding from research into how the brain develops and mention of this is included in chapter one and other points throughout the book but there is a debate still about how exactly this impacts on teaching and learning.  This is perhaps again even more pertinent to early childhood education and care as this is clearly one, if not the, most critical periods.  The Teaching and Learning Research Programme publication accessed at http://www.tlrp.org/pub/documents/Neuroscience%20Commentary%20FINAL.pdf provides the perfect introduction to this debate and a guide to further reading.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

New talk from Sir Ken Robinson on TED.com

Another amusing but really pertinent talk from Ken Robinson on TED titled 'How to Escape Education's Death Valley can be listened to at http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_how_to_escape_education_s_death_valley.html
 This relates to chapters in the book in section one on creative approaches where we have referenced to Robinson's books and previous talks and also the 'The Place of the School in the 21st Century'

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Learning to Love Risk

The talk referred to on page 48 in chapter three by the award winning writer and journalist Nick Thorpe is now available on TED.com at:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QBLk0abjtM

Friday, 10 May 2013

Research on exposure to Sesame Street

Email sent to Mary Stephen co-author of Early Childhood Education and Care -

A Meta-analysis of Improvements in Children's Learning in 15 Countries - Effects of Sesame Street - http://www.comminit.com/early-child/content/effect-sesame-street-around-world-meta-analysis-15-countries


Greetings Mary

Many best wishes. As people and agencies involved in communication and media for development and social and behavioural change, we are continually asked: "Where is the impact?" By which the people asking the question mean high-quality methodology, high-credibility, independent research papers published in peer-reviewed journals that draw a direct link and relationship between a communication and media for development, social and behavioural change initiative or trend, and a measurable, wide-scale improvement in the status of a development issue.

Early child education is just such an issue - as a priority development issue in and of itself and as the foundation stone for progress on so many other development issues. 

Writing in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, authors Marie-Louise Mares and Zhongdang Pan provide a systematic evaluation of the effectiveness of the local co-productions of Sesame Street. The series currently airs in over 150 countries and is reaching at least 156 million children in the 0-7 age range.

The article is based on summative and other studies of the programme's educational effects, synthesising the results of 24 studies conducted with over 10,000 children in 15 countries. It examines the extent to which children outside the United States (US) may learn from viewing local Sesame Street productions on TV in diverse social, political, and economic circumstances - including in some of the world's economically poorest regions. This is impact data on which we can all draw to highlight the impact of our field of work.

A summary of the article is available in the Early Childhood Development section of our website at this URL: http://www.comminit.com/early-child/content/effect-sesame-street-around-world-meta-analysis-15-countries

In brief: The results indicated significant positive effects of exposure to the programme, aggregated across learning outcomes, and within each of the 3 outcome categories: cognitive outcomes, including literacy and numeracy; learning about the world, including health and safety knowledge; and social reasoning and attitudes toward out-groups [groups that a person does not psychologically identify as being a member]. The effects were significant across different methods, and they were observed both in high-income and low- and middle-income (LAMI) countries.


Specific selected findings:

* Researchers found an overall effect size of 0.29. This translates into an 11.6 percentile gain (in terms of education). That is, an average child who does not watch Sesame Street is at the 50th percentile, whereas a child who watches is at the 62nd percentile.

* Moderation by methodological features:

~ Effects by outcome category: There were significant positive effects for each of the 3 outcome categories: d [unbiased estimate of the average effect size] = .189 for social attitudes, d= .284 for cognitive outcomes, and d = .339 for learning about the world.

~ Effects by country income: 82% of whole-sample effect size estimates came from studies conducted in low- and middle-income countries. The average effect size from these countries was significant and positive (d = .293). Most effect size estimates from low- and middle-income countries came from experimental or quasi-experimental studies (74%).

~ Effects by sample SES (socio-economic status): There were 9 studies in which researchers explicitly reported sampling children exclusively from low-SES populations. Overall, the effect of exposure to Sesame Street in low-SES samples was positive and significant (d = .413).

It is necessary for the media and communication for development, social and behavioural communication change community to build a body of independent, peer-reviewed, reputable journal-based impact data. That is highly desired and very valuable. But there is a downside. Peer-reviewed journals charge for access. That is the price we pay for having high-quality research that has high credibility. If you are interested in purchasing the full article (for $US35.95), please see:
http://www.comminit.com/clickthru/9842cae7ddc6f20e49a90a421b4591c7?node=

Article citation: Mares, M.-L., & Pan, Z., Effects of Sesame Street: A Meta-Analysis of Children's Learning in 15 Countries, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology (2013) May/June issue, Volume 34, Issue 3.

Mary  - This is impact results data upon which, in my opinion, we can all draw and quote to support the impact of all of our work. Not everyone has the capacity to undertake such extensive and authoritative research. 

Please note that we will be prompting and facilitating a dialogue on this research in The Communication Initiative's Early Child Development community of practice. We are very interested in your critique of this data and the methodology.

If you are not already a member, please do join the dialogue by accessing this link  http://networks.comminit.com/user/register and choosing the "Early Child Development" network when you register (and other groups if they are of interest). If you are already a member and have forgotten your password, there is a password recovery system. 


With many thanks and best wishes - Warren

Warren Feek
Executive Director
The Communication Initiative

http://www.comminit.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/warrencomminit

Facebook: The Communication Initiative Network
http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Communication-Initiative-Network/344005148956579

Friday, 29 March 2013

Jonas Himmelstrand: Universal daycare leaves Sweden’s children less educated

In March Rosemary Bennett, Social Affairs Correspondent, reported in the Times on a talk from Jonas Himmelstrand at the House of Commons hosted by the campaign group Mothers at Home Matter, in which he urged caution in following the Swedish family policy.  He says that 92% of Swedish children are in daycare from 18 months to 5 years and that, whilst it is difficult to prove, he feels increasingly negative outcomes in terms of psychosomatic disorders, emotional, behavioural disorders and under-achievement in school may be attributed to this.  This is an interesting addition to this complex debate.  We have explored the Swedish model of ECEC in chapter 11 and it has been held up as good practice for many years but, if Himmelstrand is right, it proves once again that there are no easy answers. 

My own view on this would be that Sweden does provide an excellent model for ECEC with the one proviso that this should still not be promoted above children spending as much time as is possible in the care of their parents.  It is unrealistic to suggest that every mother will stay at home until their child goes to school.  For many mothers and children this would not be the best situation as there is no 'one size fits all' - so, it is vital that we provide high quality ECEC whilst also preserving the option for a parent to stay home with their child where desired and possible.   There seems to me a clear and present danger that, as so often in the past. the different concerns and circumstances of different women debating these issues in the media and with government, will effectively cancel each other out.  The one 'banner' that I would like to see writ large above all the debates around ECEC is 'the best interests of the child' (not 'children'). This recognizes the individual needs of children and families and puts children at the centre rather than they become side-lined by practical, economic, feminist or party political agenda.  The following from Jonas Himmelstrand is from      http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/04/26/jonas-himmelstrand-two-generations-of-universal-daycare-have-left-sweden%E2%80%99s-children-less-educated/

While preparing for a trip to Canada, I have learned that many Canadians consider my country, Sweden, to be a model for good family policy. After all, Sweden has a universally accessible, government-funded daycare system, and a 2006 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranked Sweden at the top and Canada at the bottom in childcare provision. Indeed, Swedish family policies are internationally admired, offering comprehensive and affordable daycare, gender equality and a high percentage of women in paid work. This, however, is only one half of the story.
True, parental leave in Sweden is a generous 16 months. There are no babies in daycare. But when parental leave ends, practically the reverse is true: A full 92% of all children aged 18 months to five years are in daycare. Parents pay only a symbolic amount for this; tax subsidies for daycare are $20,000 per child, annually. Swedish taxes are among the highest in the world, and the tax system was designed to make both parents seek employment in the work force.

James Heckman: In early childhood education, ‘Quality really matters.’

James J. Heckman is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. He shared the 2000 Nobel for his work on correcting for selection biases when doing econometric studies, developing techniques which he applied to measuring everything from the economic effects of civil rights laws on African-Americans to the economic benefits (or lack thereof) of GEDs. Recently, he has done considerable work on early childhood education, including detailed studies of the Perry preschool experiment.

James Heckman famously stated and produced a graph to show that it was most cost effective for governments to spend money on education and care of children in the early years and in this interview at  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/02/14/james-heckman-in-early-childhood-education-quality-really-matters/   in 2010 he re-confirms this saying:

Quality really matters. That’s been pretty well documented. I would argue Perry, which has been most thoroughly evaluated, is extensive. In terms of the return on investment, per dollar return, the annual return for what you’d get on a bond or some kind of fixed income, you would have a rate that was 6-10 percent per year, which is extremely high. So even though it costs something, it’s about the return is to society and to the individuals.
They are very good investments. They’re very comparable with stocks at the end of the second World War. Return was about 6.9 percent. Pretty comparable. It’s a range, because there are certain subjective elements. But that’s a very high rate of return and it’s far superior to a range of activities, compared to, say, Job Corps, where the return is negative. I’m an economist. I would talk about both the benefits and the costs. And if the benefits really outweigh the costs, I think that’s something very rare. So it’s a good investment.

This issue is again explored in the final section of the book and the HighScope Perry Pre-school research is explored in chapter 14.

I do not see much evidence from government at any level that his message regarding the economic importance of the education and care of very young children, is being recieved, understood or acted upon.  Do you?

Debate about ratios and qualifications in childcare settings

A few weeks ago there was a proposal to increase the ratio of children to carer in daycare settings.  Another 'wheeze' from the government purporting to be an improvement.  I sent the following to Michael Gove and similar to Stephen Twigg and Liz Truss:

Dear Sir,

I was interested to hear comments from Stephen Twigg, shadow for education, and discussion today on the proposed changes to childcare ratios.  I was glad to hear him challenging the proposals but rather disappointed that the argument seems, as usual, to be based solely on issues of cost and safety.  I feel he could and should be predicating his argument on what is best for children’s development and learning.  I would be interested to hear your own views on this matter as your voice was significantly absent from the debate on the news programmes earlier today.  There is a wealth of evidence now to support the fact that the human brain develops and children learn most quickly and significantly in the first 3 years of life.  This lays the foundations for life and again there is a wealth of research that tells us these early years are our best and most cost effective opportunity to intervene and try to ensure a positive outcome for any child.  For me, this is the strongest argument against increasing ratios. 

There is no evidence to suggest that allowing  a childminder to care for more children under five or for a nursery setting to take in more one and two year olds per member of staff will a) reduce costs for parents, b) reduce costs to the taxpayer, c) raise the quality of the care given.  It seems to be suggested that these greater numbers of children would be cared for by ‘better qualified’ staff.  It was suggested in the Tickell Review report that qualifications needed to be raised in the childcare sector but this ended up in the final report being watered down to a recommendation about basic standards of literacy.  We know, from our work in the field here in Scotland, how difficult it is to raise the level of qualification in a sector that is almost entirely staffed by women, many of whom lack basic qualifications as a starting point and many of whom are getting the minimum wage (or indeed less as they are 16 – 18 years old).   There was no suggestion in the news reports today that there was a concurrent proposal to fund further education and training for those working in the sector.   It is hard to see how this proposal will make childcare cost less for parents or increase pay for staff and it is very hard to see how it will increase the opportunities for the kind of quality interactions and play opportunities  that we know support very young children’s learning and development.

It would be good to hear politicians talking about what is in the best interests of children, as per the UN Convention and the Children’s Act, for a change, rather than simply costs and getting mothers back to work.  The suggestion that this would move in the direction of daycare provision in Sweden is utterly spurious.  In Sweden the state supports parents in a number of ways and children experience daycare in a family grouping providing consistency of care from more highly qualified, specifically trained and better paid staff.   I would direct you to the chapter in the book below written by my colleague and co-author Catriona McDonald who lived and worked in Sweden for 20 years, for a better understanding of the differences.  As I think I heard Stephen Twigg say today on the radio it is not possible to take one element of provision from another society and transport it to the UK where there is so much less support for parents.

Again, it would be good to see politicians drawing on the expertise of those working and studying in this sector, those with knowledge of other approaches and indeed on the research – much of which is carried out and published here in the UK.  You might usefully draw on evidence and initiatives here in Scotland (which might also support the ‘Better Together’ campaign), and I would direct you to Sir Harry Burns, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, who again spoke powerfully just last week here in Aberdeen justifying a drive for better provision for our youngest children.   I hope discussions continue on this issue and trust that we will hear more about education and the best interests of the child in future.

These letters only elicited a standardised response from Michael Gove's office two weeks later and nothing from any other quarter but I was very pleased to see an article from Polly Toynbee at the time that  gave rise to some heated debate in the Guardian and then comments from Cathy Nutbrown last week, reported in the Guardian at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/mar/22/nursery-reforms-vulnerable-children-adviser saying the following:

Vulnerable young children will suffer as a result of ministers' plans for reform of early years education, a government adviser has warned.
Prof Cathy Nutbrown denounced the government's plans to increase the number of toddlers nursery staff can look after as "nonsense".
Reducing the staff-to-child ratio will dilute the quality of experience the youngest children receive in nurseries, even if staff have better qualifications, she said.
She described plans for a new early years teacher (EYT) qualification as "insulting and misleading" because those obtaining the title will not be granted qualified teacher status putting them on a par with colleagues in primary schools.
Nutbrown, from Sheffield University's school of education, called for enhanced training and status for early years professionals in a government-commissioned report on childcare qualifications, published last year.
But she said it was clear that most of her recommendations had been rejected or watered down in the government's More Great Childcare proposals, unveiled in January by the education minister Liz Truss.
The Department for Education said that under its reforms only high-quality providers would be able to have additional flexibility and the reforms would bring the UK's preschool sector into line with France and Denmark.
The proposals envisage better training for nursery staff – including the EYT qualification – but also set out plans to increase the number of two-year-olds each adult can care for from four to six, and for under-twos from three to four.
A survey undertaken by the National Children's Bureau and published in full on Friday found that 95% of nursery, local authority and managerial staff working in childcare were concerned about the increasing ratios.
In an open letter, Nutbrown said: "Trading staff-child ratios for higher qualified staff is nonsense. Watering down ratios will threaten quality. Childcare may be cheaper but children will be footing the bill."
Setting out the results she expects from cutting staff numbers, she said: "The difference will be too few adults with too many little children; too few moments in the day for a toddler to have uninterrupted time with their key person, and too few early years practitioners to talk and work with parents.
"Who will suffer most? The youngest, most vulnerable children. Their parents, who will know that their little children will get less attention, less conversation, less holding, than they need.
"And with them, their early years practitioners who – though they may be well-qualified – are unable to provide the best that they can because they have had their greatest resource (their time for children) reduced."

She said policy mistakes would have knock-on effects for years to come, warning ministers: "Young children must not bear the costs of government getting this wrong."
Nutbrown said many nursery staff wrongly believed the EYT qualification would give them parity of status with school teachers.
"Yet again, those who work with younger children are offered a lesser status (and we should realistically anticipate, poorer pay and conditions that those who work with older children) but a title that makes them appear to have the same role and status," she said.
Commenting on Nutbrown's letter, Sharon Hodgson, the shadow children's minister, said: "The government's own expert adviser has echoed the concerns of parents and nursery staff that the quality of care for babies and toddlers is being undermined by this government."
She said David Cameron and the education secretary, Michael Gove, needed to "listen to Professor Nutbrown" and the government plans were "a serious threat to childcare quality and child safety".
"Experts say they won't do anything to drive down costs. Since these plans were announced, Labour has been calling on ministers to think again – it's time they listened," Hodgson said.
A Department for Education spokesman said: "Professor Nutbrown's review provided a valuable contribution to the development of our proposals for early education and childcare. We have taken forward several of her important recommendations but we recognise that reforms and improvement need to go much further if we are to give parents a proper choice of high quality childcare and early education.
"All the evidence shows that quality and safety are linked to high-quality staff. Our reforms mean that only high-quality providers will be able to have this additional flexibility.
"Our preliminary work suggests providers will be able to attract quality staff: using the new ratios could enable nurseries to pay staff up to £3,000 more per year.

May 9th - further comment on news media as Nick Clegg waded into debate with the view that this is unworkable and could be damaging.  Response from Liz Truss that 'it is about reducing costs which are too high'.  My response - yes we thought it was all about cost but it is unlikely to help in that respect either - certainly not cost to parents.  It may help government budgets by enabling more mothers to work and provide work for others in the care sector but the most likely outcome is reduced quality of care and more children in poor quality care for longer.  The long term outcomes of this for everyone are negative in every way - including financial.

Nick Clegg 'mauled' by stay at home Mum Laura Perrin



Nick Clegg has been accused of unfairly targeting "stay-at-home mums" by a caller to his weekly radio phone-in.
Laura, from south London, said the government was "discriminating" against traditional families with its new childcare scheme.
"You probably think what I do is a worthless job," the caller, who did not give her surname, told Mr Clegg.
Mr Clegg said the government's aim was to help parents who wanted to work but felt childcare costs were too hefty.
Only single parents and those families where both parents are in work will benefit from the new childcare voucher scheme announced by the government on Tuesday.
Parents will be able to claim back up to 20% of childcare costs every year - up to £1,200 for each child - when the scheme starts in autumn 2015.
The caller to Mr Clegg's LBC radio show, who has two children, claimed there was "absolutely no provision in the tax system for families like myself".
She told Mr Clegg child benefit had been "a fair way of recognising everybody's legitimate choice" either to go out to work or to "work inside the home".
"You've essentially abolished that for families like me and replaced it in some way with this which applies only to mums who go out to work," she added.
Mr Clegg replied: "Like everybody, I massively admire your choice.
"You should be entirely free and proud of the choices you make in your own life to look after your own children in the way that you want. I hope no politician would ever seek to judge you for that.
"This is all about what we can do in government to give people the greatest choice that they want and need in their own lives."
Mr Clegg also defended Wednesday's Budget, saying those who wanted to work and provide for their families were being helped most by the coalition.
He pointed out that petrol would be cheaper, basic rate taxpayers were benefiting from the £10,000 starting rate from next year and that employers would get a National Insurance break.
Mr Clegg claimed that the top 10% of earners were paying more as a result of the chancellor's decisions.

There are a number of links to this and it has given rise to much debate!  Have a look at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9959640/Nick-Clegg-denies-Coalition-is-penalising-stay-at-home-mothers.html

The Mail reported after a follow up radio programme:
Presenter Nick Ferrari said Mrs Perrins, 32, had left him a message to say: ‘I would just ask him to look at the OECD report again and think about the impact that these policies are having on families up and down Britain.’
The Lib Dem leader, whose wife Miriam is a high-powered lawyer, floundered as he refused to discuss the figures and said it was not his job to judge parents’ decisions to stay at home.
He said: ‘I don’t want to get into all the number crunching on this. I don’t actually accept that a lot of the measures that we’ve taken are somehow penalising mums – or indeed dads – who take the totally admirable decision [to stay at home].
'I’m also a parent, I know these are incredibly important decisions about how you juggle work and family … these very kind of noble decisions that many, many parents have taken, to say no, for a few years or maybe permanently, they’re going to dedicate themselves to their children.’
The OECD study found the average UK family with one working parent and two children lost 27.9 per cent of their wages in tax in 2012, compared with 26.2 per cent in 2009, before the Coalition was elected.
The international average is 26.1 per cent.

This link below includes a number of comments:

What do you think?  How important is it for mothers (or fathers) to be at home in the early years?  Does legislation militate against parents not working?  Can we afford, in terms of the impact of poor early experiences on later outcomes, for more and more parents to work rather than care for their children?

A few weeks ago there was another related issue about increasing the ratio of children to carer in daycare settings which gave rise to a similar debate with many commenting that parents should have to pay the full cost of care for any children they 'choose' to have; pensioners were more in need; people looking after young children do not need high qualifications they just have to be 'kind', etc, etc.  Though there was also comments  supporting both the necessity for higher qualifications and cheaper childcare.

This debate is very much part of what we are exploring in the last section of the book.

Book published

Our book Early Childhood Education and Care is now published and available at the SAGE website http://www.uk.sagepub.com/books/Book236926?siteId=sage-uk&prodTypes=Books&q=nutkins&pageTitle=productsSearch#tabview=title 

We hope to see feedback and comments soon as well as on ongoing blogs.