The changing face of child care – a UK perspective

Feb

The changing face of child care – a UK perspective

Cause change and lead; accept change and survive; resist change and die. Ray Norda

Change is a constant presence in all of our lives, but sometimes I feel in early years we have to deal with more change than most.  In England in the last five years we have seen the introduction of a whole new statutory framework, a large consultation on that framework three years later, numerous introductions, additions and detractions from the framework, various changes to the assessment elements of the framework with further changes expected imminently and general confusion over which documents are current at any given moment.  Most of these changes have been introduced suddenly, with little real dialogue with the profession and often with little support.  This has left a situation where childcare providers and others working in the Early Years Foundation Stage are in a constant state of change for what often feels like change’s sake.

I think this leaves us with a huge problem.  If as Early Years practitioners we are constantly having to adjust (even slightly) our practice and we don’t agree with the adjustments, feel frustrated by them, or are just too tired to keep up, it is understandable if we stop seeking out, or start actively resisting, change.

But- and it’s a huge but- it means that most of us are missing the one change which could vastly improve our practice, develop our setting and most importantly better support the children and adults (both staff and parents). We now have a fantastic digital platform for linking families and observing and assessing children in our settings, thanks to the amazing Dans at Kinderloop.

Kinderloop provides many opportunities for improving practice. Even if we simply compare the ‘old way’ of recording learning with that offered by Kinderloop, we can quickly see what an amazing tool it is.  We used to take the pictures, upload them to a computer, print them out, cut them up and stick them in a learning journey (which takes long enough before you account for finding the camera cable and ensuring enough ink and paper are in the printer to achieve your task).  With Kinderloop, a couple of clicks and you have posted your photo and observation.  You don’t need vast amounts of post it notes to record observations, or marathon ‘sticking in sessions’ as I used to think of them, you save time, money, resources and improve links to parents and the wider family.

In the last five years we have also seen a huge explosion in the accessibility of the internet, the introduction of the first iPhones in 2007 and the increased availability of Blackberrys and other devices at a similar time has meant that our accessibility to, and use of, digital platforms such as Facebook and Twitter has risen in a way that we probably would never have imagined as we played snake for hours on our Nokia handsets in the first decade of this century. So why are there not settings hammering at the door to get on board? 

I guess fear for one.  I admit (with much embarrassment) I used to be something of a technophobe, fearing the amount to which technology was ‘taking over our lives’.  Until I realised technology needn’t take over my life if I embrace it and make it work for me.  It’s futile to try and deny the impact technology has on our lives; what I realised I had to do was inform myself, move on and pick the bits of technology that enhanced my life.  That is things which: made my life easier in some way (thanks to notes in my phone, I’ll never forget my shopping list again); connected me to people I live apart from (thank you facebook); enhanced by professional life (thank you Twitter) or gave me interesting ideas (thank you pinterest).

In burying our heads in the sand and refusing to accept the world has changed, we have become an industry seriously lagging behind others in embracing digital change.  And with that we lose all that technology has to offer us, all the opportunities it brings to actually make our lives easier, the chance to grow our knowledge and pick the parts of technology which work for us.

Some brave settings of course are embracing technology and these are clearly the leaders in our field. They are taking all that technology and Kinderloop has to offer and using it to improve experiences for children and families, which at the end of the day is probably why most of us chose to do this work! So as a sector let’s recognise this is a change we can control and embrace, because as the quote above says  ‘Cause change and lead; accept change and survive; resist change and die.’ 

Thanks to our English Superlooper Hannah for your wonderful words. @EYofExcellence

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