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Diary

In this blog we are posting news from around the network, reflections on general news items and other broad-ranging items of interest. Current contributors are Sightlines Initiative directors Robin Duckett, Liz Elders, Debi Keyte Hartland and Chris Merrick.
We have a Library View (see left column) to help you find past articles.

All Nursery Schools in England under the hammer of possible Treasury cuts

Is the UK government intending to push early childhood education in Egland to the wire, or just being careless?

Here is an extract from today's BBC report (link): 

"Ministers provided extra money for Nursery Schools from 2017 after a shake-up of funding left some nurseries worried they would close. But the funding supplement agreed then runs out in 2020. The government has given no assurances about what will happen after this date.

Education select committee chairman Robert Halfon told the Today programme Treasury "bean-counters" would store up huge problems if the schools were not protected.

Conservative ministerial aide Craig Tracey and Chichester MP Gillian Keegan said they had raised the issue with ministers.

England has 400 maintained nursery schools, which are owned and directly paid-for by the state. They have to hire better-qualified staff than private nurseries, and often teach and care for children with disabilities and special education needs. The majority are based in disadvantaged areas. A majority of the schools expect to run deficit budgets next year, according to a survey from an All Party Parliamentary Group supporting nurseries.

The Education Secretary Damian Hinds has identified programmes run in state-run nurseries as assets in improving social mobility - staging a media event in a Luton school in April - but some are already struggling to stay open.  Carole Jacques, who runs a nursery in Norwich, said they had to phone print companies begging for paper for children to draw on after money ran out. Ms Jacques said her school would definitely close without the funding, as did Amanda King who runs two nursery schools in Warwickshire. She said her schools were already losing £60 a week for every child with special needs they accepted.  Her MP Craig Tracey said there would be "huge consequences" if the schools closed, and he didn't know what would happen to children there with special educational needs as private nurseries had no obligation to take them.

You can also listen to BBC Radio 4 report here (link).

What is your MP's position?  Some MPs such as mny in the Education Sub-Committee are highly informed and committed. to early childhood education. Many though, including cabinet ministers, are not. Some may be confused and distracted; some may not care. 

Now is the time to help your MP become informed if they aren't, and to support them in championing education if they are.

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794 Hits

Imagination encircles the world

click to read interview

"Imagination is more important than knowledge" 

That banner-statement of Einstein's came back to me yesterday, as I was reflecting on the questions and uncertainties of an enthusiastic team of educators with whom we're currently working. Keen to thoroughly shift their practice from 'instruction' to 'construction', they are encountering  that 'rug-pulled-from-under-their feet' feeling of  what it might mean to do things differently, with a different mindset:

"What should we do if we're not instructing?"

"What if the children have different interests and ideas to ours?"

"How can we understand what to do?"

Their imagination is kindled, nudging them towards 'doing things differently', yet like many/most of us, their own experience of 'what education is' had been solidly instructional: that's what they'd had, and that's the common practice in the schools around them. Very unsettling, to say the least. I recall how education students participating in our Floor Four exploratorium also discussed how they felt initially de-skilled by the challenge of beginning with listening and observation, rther than predefined ctivities (as they'd been taught in college.)

How different the challege is to work with imagination at the fore, rather than repetition and ingestion. 

What a positive call of encouragement Einstein's famous proclamation is, and I was prompted to hear more, so I tracked down the 1929 interview.  If you click on the statement , you can read the full interview too - I hope you enjoy it as much as did I. Einstein discusses so much, so elequently - the artistry of being, thinking, examining, living - and the serious danger of living withough so doing.

“Life is like riding a bicycle." letter to son: February 5, 1930

"Life," Einstein said later in a letter to his son, "is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving." 

Maybe that is good enough advice for us educators too, as we learn, uncertainly, but with inner energy, how to do things differently: learning how better to work with our children who themselves are also born natural examiners of worlds.

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556 Hits

Only Life Educates ...

"Ultimately only life educates, and the deeper that life, the real world, burrows into the school, the more dynamic and the more robust will be the educational process. That the school has been locked away and walled in as if by a tall fence from life itself has been its greatest failing. Education is just as meaningless outside the real world as is fire without oxygen, or as is breathing in a vacuum."  Vygotsky, L. (first published in 1926) Educational Psychology 

I have this quote on my desk, thanks to colleague Mary Jane Drummond, and when this morning I heard about the UN Global Youth Survey, it seemed to be a fitting comment.

Here is an extract from their pilot study, of 10 - 18 year-olds:

from the Pilot Study publication

 "The most alarming result Irom the test run of the Global Youth Poll is the common agreement by all participants that school is not a place they enjoy spending their time. Vietnam and Mexico show the best results among the 11 different regions, where only 29% and 28% of those interviewed answered with a clear NO when asked if they had enjoyed their time at school in 2017. Other countries such as the U.S. are clear with 44% of young people turning their back to the vision of education they experience from secondary school up to university. In the U.K. the frustration is at 42% of the respondents. Together with the other questions asked around education in the Global Youth Poll this sends a stark alert to all in charge of education ... "

At the moment the poll is for secondary age children: HERE is the link for more info and for children to participate.

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452 Hits