15 Dec, 2015

activematters | newsletter 2015 round up!

During the Summer – we launched a petition to raise awareness of young children’s poor activity levels and proposed a range of possible solutions – that would engage parents, practitioners – and take into account the needs of children themselves.

It was a ‘call to action’ for all those interested and involved (in whatever capacity) in children’s health and wellbeing.

Our field had never tried going down this route – so we had no idea what to expect.

Despite our best efforts – coverage in National media and continual ‘nudging’ of interested parties – the response was mixed – there simply wasn’t any VISABLE interest. After a while – we took it down – and reviewed what had happened – and why.

What did we learn, what has emerged since and what issues may affect the future?

  • Talking to a range of professionals – it became very clear that ‘petitions’ are part of the EY landscape – there is always one on the go – about anything from baseline assessments/curriculum changes/food initiatives..they simply do not have the impact they used to – the market is saturated……..and people are fearful of putting their names to anything not approved by their superiors
  • The petition itself may have been too ‘comprehensive in scope’. At the time, we highlighted – a number of key documents that are still relevant – and whilst not directly referenced, they still need to underpin any strategy moving forward. However, In light of recent developments – the House of Commons Health Committee | Childhood obesity – brave and bold action – that also covers most of the points highlighted in our petition.  ‘activematters subsequently responded by highlighting  our concerns regarding the downgrading of physical activity in this report in an ‘open letter to Ministers’
  • Parents : ‘Ensure any health message re their children is meaningful/relevant/accessible/sustainable’ – CMO guidelines (180 mins daily physical activity) – what do they do already? – How may opportunities for physical activity be extended and supported in local communities? David Cameron has asked parents/childcare providers to engage schools in out of hours/wrap round provision. Does this leave the door wide open for commercial interests to ‘invade’?
  • Practitioners: ‘Upskill – make aware of guidelines and ways of supporting them in their settings that are manageable and free – enable funded training and long-term support for practice.’ It will be interesting to see if David Cameron’s speech of 7th December (in the wake of Sam Gyimah’s speech about the future of childcare in England) has any positive impact.
  • Children: ‘Ensure a range of opportunities for PA that will support their overall development – within settings and in their communities – indoors/outdoors.’ We look forward to a consolidated  ‘Child Obesity Strategy.’  It is our hope, that the thinking emanating from the corridors of power can finally join the dots relating to – obesity, education, health, food – marketing and media sectors!  We need focus and clarity with a plan to move ahead in a meaningful, cohesive way.

OTHER NEWS | Training | we have had an excellent year – with well over 100 learners from here and abroad attending L3 courses. However – we really need to encourage students to gain the complete qualification – an attendance certificate to support CPD is fine – but the courses are CACHE supported – and CACHE would like to see the numbers of endorsed certificates awarded rise in 2016.

Work goes on re the proposed CACHE Level 4 award. We have been involved in creating one of the modules – physical activity and nutrition. There is a long way to go – but it does look promising.

The 1st4Sport EY/PD/L3 course has been launched – not sure what the uptake is yet or when the first students are expected to begin training. Please let us know if you have any information – we would really like to know.

Obesity | Sugar Tax |

JAMIE OLIVER/SUGAR TAX/G20 | Jamie Oliver and the Food Revolution petition – which more than 1.6 million signed. Just to refresh your memory, the petition calls for compulsory food education for every child at school. Since the petition  – the G20 are committed to continuing to ‘improve food security and nutrition’, with youth being a named priority. So this is very much a beginning – there is no decision from our government on an implementation plan. Sugar Reduction | Public Health England

On a related topic, ‘activematters’ have attended a range of events/conferences recently.

The INPP conference was fascinating – well worth attending to hear the Dutch academics talk of their work on cursive handwriting and brain development. The Finnish decision to no longer teach handwriting as a discrete discipline caused much consternation! We also attended the RSPH AGM in Enfield, the PHE event at the Oval and presented at the ukactive Summit – the very first time that EY has been on the ukactive agenda. Published at the event was:  ukactive | Blueprint for an Active Britain

Integrated Review | Reception Baseline|

The Integrated Review rumbles on………at some point – someone will have to make a decision – is it working/if not/why not/what to do next?  NCB | The Integrated Review: Follow-up report on practice in two local authority areas.

activematters suggestion | Is there any reason why ALL children have to have an IR? For children who may come from challenging backgrounds – or who have possible difficulties – then obviously one would be necessary – but for the majority of children – if we upskilled  EY practitioners – surely they would be in a stronger and more informed position to complete the relevant documents with parental support?

This may free up health workers to use their time more effectively – save the NHS a lot of money – empower practitioners to take a much more proactive and responsible role regarding children’s health/well-being – and mitigate the on-going issues re incompatible software and data protection that bedevil the whole initiative.

The first feedback from the Reception Baseline has emerged. The only published feedback we can find so far is in Nursery World . As expected – the Early Excellence model has captured 70% of the market – around 12.000 schools – 500.000 children. The BASE model and NFER model have also reported back – albeit with much smaller cohorts. Everyone is ‘delighted’ – ‘positive’ ……..with EVERYTHING! Not one negative comment has appeared – anywhere …… apologies – but doesn’t this seem a little curious?

We still have had no reply – from anyone – about our concerns re the absence of ANY meaningful physical development component – in ANY of these models. To reiterate – how can Ofsted claim to be covering all areas of the EY curriculum in the Reception Year – if only the areas covered in the Baseline assessments are considered relevant?

Some new resources:

  • ‘Every Child a Mover – A practical guide to providing young children with the physical opportunities they need’ – Jan White. Collected from Jan’s many and varied travels teaching around the world – each photo manages to beautifully encapsulate exactly what she has written. Favourite – p 66 – little girl lying in the grass – so happy…… For parents and practitioners
  • ‘Learning through movement in the Early Years’ – Sharon Tredgett: The inclusion of ‘reflective questions’ is very useful – and the references included at the end of each chapter provide encouragement for further exploration and reading. Mainly aimed at practitioners – although parents may find the case studies interesting.
  • Smart Start Club Resource pack –  ‘Developing the whole child through fun physical activities in the early years’ This pack is distinctly retro – 16 activity cards – 16 pages of stickers……..surely we should have moved on a bit by now?  As ever – there is no clear guidance as to HOW to deliver the sessions.  BUT – the CD that goes with the activities is BRILLIANT! Whoever composed this music is a genius – it is so difficult to get music for movement right  – especially for young children – and some of the tracks are spot on.

Events 2016 |

activematters will be presenting at The Nursery World Show 2016. at 10.30 am on Saturday 6th February – please do come and support!