Friday, 30 January 2015

Last Post

I've been maintaining this site for almost 8 years, but this is my final post as I am moving onto a new role within the Library at University College Birmingham, and so will no longer be attached to the School of Education & Community. Fortunately the new librarian - Manjeet Dhillon - is going to pick up where this blog has left off, and you can access her new site from this link. It should be well worth bookmarking if you have found this blog of interest.

If you've only just discovered this site, all of the archived pages remain available, so you can still look at previous posts to see what's been covered, and hopefully most of the links will continue to work for a while yet! A big thank you also to all the people who've provided feedback about this site over the last few years, or who've told me that they found it useful. And seeing as approximately 50% of hits over the last 18 months have been to a single mammoth post about theorists, I might as well save new visitors some time by providing a link to the page - here it is :-)

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Childcare and Family Services

The Family and Childcare Trust has just launched a really simple, effective tool. The Childcare and Family Services Finder is a free service which lists all of the registered childcare and family services providers in your local area - just search with your postcode and links to the appropriate websites will appear.

Monday, 15 December 2014


Today sees the official launch of a new early years organisation. National Early Years Trainers & Consultants (NEYTCO) is a membership organisation for trainers and consultants providing services to the Early Years community. You can read much more about them their aims and services on their website, or you can follow them on Twitter.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Class of 2014

It looks like Christmas has come early as far the publisher Routledge is concerned. From now until the end of the year, they are offering free access to the 250 most read journal articles in the education field. That's a lot of free content! To browse the collection, simply click here.

If you're a fan of free content (and which researcher isn't?) then you may also be interested in this previous post about open access articles, this post which provides details about the Access to Research service, or this post about other non-journal online resources.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Review of 2014

It's nearly Christmas, so it must be time for a review of major developments and new research published in the children's sector during the last year. After all, you might have missed some of these the first time around...

It's probably best to start with some changes which will impact on all who work in early years and education settings. September saw the implementation of the revised Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, as well as the new SEND Code of Practice (separate guidance for early years settings and guidance for schools are also available). 2014 also saw the passing of the Children and Families Act, with implications of a wide range of children's services.

It's been another year where the topic of childcare - how to finance it, and how best to deliver it effectively - has generated an astonishing amount of reports. But first the official stuff: in January the DfE published their annual Childcare and Early Years Survey of Parents, which examines parents’ use of childcare and early years provision, and their views and experiences. Then in September came the latest Childcare and Early Years Providers Survey, which has detailed information on the characteristics of childcare / early years provision, and statistics on the number of providers and children attending. For information on the quality of childcare on offer, April saw the publication of Ofsted's first Early Years Annual Report.

And onto other organisations... In 2013 the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank began a series of reports on childcare provision, and continued this year with two further publications. ChildMind the Gap examined how childcare could be delivered in a manner which would allow mothers to return to work if they so wished, while No More Baby Steps set our proposals for moving the UK towards a "universal, high-quality and affordable system of childcare and early-years provision." The Family and Childcare Trust also issued more than one report: March saw the release of their annual Childcare Costs Survey, while June saw the publication of Where Next for Childcare? which assessed many of the policy developments of recent years. Other reports to tackle issues around childcare provision include the Citizen Advice Bureau's The Practicalities of Childcare, and the Nuffield Trust's Quality and Inequality.

The future of Children's Centres is another topic which has generated debate for at least a couple of years now, and two new reports added to the discussion. In February Barnardos released What Are Children's Centres For?, while in October the 4Children charity published their latest Sure Start Children's Centre's Census, which is probably the most comprehensive picture available of the services that are on offer.

Of course, some lengthy research projects continue to produce new information for many years! In September the final report of the EPPSE project was published (EPPSE has been tracking the development of a large number of young children since 1997). On a similar note, the Millennium Cohort Study has been running since 2000 and is still ongoing, but recently published a new report detailing how the children they have been following are faring at age 11.

And here are some other interesting documents from 2014, which I couldn't easily fit into any of the above paragraphs(!):
Your reward for reading this far is some blatant self-promotion... The most popular posts published on this site this year have been:
As ever, if you feel I've missed something important, please share it with other site visitors by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post. I need to go, I can hear a knocking sound...

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Kids' Road Safety

I haven't posted an archive film clip for a while, but today's is a real curio. Below is a 1944 short film in which some children are taught about road safety on a mocked-up road. It's hard to know how much of this has been staged specifically for the cameras, but it's certainly interesting...

Monday, 1 December 2014

21st Century Childhood

On Friday the latest report from the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) was published. The MCS is a huge, ongoing project which has been tracking the lives of approximately 19,000 children who were born in the UK in 2000-2001, with the aim of producing a detailed report of growing up in modern Britain. The project has provided data for a huge range of publications, and is often used as a basis for policy-making.

This latest report draws on interviews conducted with the participating children as they reached the age of 11, and touches on such subjects as wellbeing and poverty. Follow this link to a page providing access to the full text, as well as links to a number of related publications, and a series of podcasts in which the report's authors discuss their findings. Further summaries of some of the report's main themes are available here (wellbeing) and here (cognitive development).

Children's Early Literacy

Today the National Literacy Trust has published its second annual survey of parents and practitioners from early years settings. The report is very detailed, covering a range of literacy issues, but has made headlines for its claim that touch screen technology can prove to be beneficial in helping young disadvantaged boys to read.

The full text of Children's Early Literacy Practices at Home and in Early Years Settings is available here. A summary of the key findings is also available.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Early Years and Childcare Statistics

Ofsted has just published its latest statistics on inspections for registered early years and childcare providers. It's a little tricky to navigate your way through the various datasets, but a couple of the key findings are:

  • 80% of providers were rated as good or outstanding, an increase of 1% on the last set of statistics
  • 83% of childcare providers on non-domestic premises were rated as good or outstanding
  • 78% of childminders were rated as good or outstanding
On a local note, of the almost 6000 settings inspected in the West Midlands, 13% were rated outstanding, 68% were rated good, 17% were judged to 'require improvement', and 2% were rated as inadequate.

The latest statistics are available to download from this link.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Children and Technology

One of the most common enquiries I've had over the last year or so deals with the issue of children and screen time - what impact does spending prolonged time in front of a TV / laptop / tablet have on a child? There's certainly a vigorous debate taking place at the moment - some claim that too much exposure at an early age can have a detrimental effect on a child's development, while others argue that children should be enabled to acquire ICT skills at an early age to equip them for the world which they are now growing up in. And of course, there are also issues to consider relating to older children - do violent computer games have an impact on their behaviour? How safe are they in their online interactions?

Today's post has been inspired by a new report from Ofcom - Digital Day 2014 reports on a project which assessed how children's use of media differs to their parents, and found that children are more likely to watch online content that television. In fact, Ofcom have been responsible for a number of reports this year - Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes is a hugely detailed report which examines media and computer use among 3-15 year olds, while the Ofcom Report on Internet Safety Measures and Children's Online Behaviour: Issues of Risk and Trust both look at issues surrounding online safety and parental supervision.

Another organisation who have produced multiple reports about children and ICT are EU Kids Online. In July of this year they published Net Children Go Mobile, which explores how children and young people make use of the internet and mobile technologies in their daily lives. EU Kids Online were also behind the 2013 report entitled Zero to Eight: Young Children and their Internet Use, and a recent report which made policy recommendations to "make the internet a better and safer place for children."

If you're an early years practitioner, you might be wondering how all this discussion relates to your working role, in which case you could be interested in a 2011 CfBT publication entitled Engaging Early Years Foundation Stage Children in Computer-Based Play. There are also a number of freely available journal articles of relevance: you could try looking at Playful and Creative ICT Pedagogical Framing: a Nursery School Case Study, or Computer Use by Preschool Children: Rethinking Practice as Digital Natives Come to Preschool (scroll down to Page 37!). Also available are Seven Myths about Young Children and Technology, and Can We Let Computers Change Practice? Educators' Interpretations of Preschool Tradition, though you'll need to create a free account with the ResearchGate site to view the full text of that last one.

One area that has attracted particular attention is how technology impacts on children's literacy skills. For a useful overview of this topic, you could try reading a 2010 article entitled Technology and Literacy in Early Childhood Educational Settings: a Review of Research. More recently, the National Literacy Trust has published two reports on Children's Use of Technology in the Early Years, one of which covers parents' perspectives, while the other one examines practitioner perspectives.

Still not had enough? Some further reports from recent years are listed below:
I'm sure some site visitors will know of further useful resources in this area, in which case you could share them with other readers by leaving a comment on this post. Below is a thought-provoking clip from YouTube which went viral in 2011; it's called A Magazine is an iPad that Doesn't Work.