The dawn of a new term is always a scary, exciting and apprehensive time across the education sector, but even more so when you have rising Covid numbers, a revised curriculum and Government guidance and updates being released weeks and days before the start of a new term.
With so much information, change and uncertainty it’s hard to know what to do for the best and what changes to implement first.
But this is where being confident in your role as a professional and as an educator comes into its own.
We’ve always followed the lead of our children and their interests in relation to our pedagogy, and throughout the pandemic, we have followed our gut and our own professional judgement in order to keep ourselves and our children safe.
Whilst it is essential to familiarise yourself with Government guidance and policy and take on board the measures put in place, it is also your business and your decision how far to take this advice.
Some settings are still not using sand or malleable materials to avoid cross-contamination and many have continued to reduce soft furnishings and dressing up clothes and opportunities, and it is absolutely their prerogative to do so, but just because others aren’t, does not mean you have to follow suit.
You are professionals, with the best interests of your staff team and children at heart and so if you believe you are mitigating risks to the best of your ability and can continue to offer and provide the entirety of your provision safely, then by all means do so.
As with the revised EYFS now coming into effect and the release of Birth to Five Matters and Development Matters; whilst the EYFS is statutory, the other two documents are non-statutory and as we have discussed before, you do not have to use them. If you and your staff team are confident, happy and meeting the needs of your children through the curriculum and pedagogy you currently have in place, then continue do so.
As with any term and the introduction of curriculum changes and Coronavirus contingency plans, OFSTED have also updated their Inspection handbook and how and what they will be looking for during inspections, and so September is already proving to be overwhelming and full of change for our sector, the last thing we need at the start of a new term.
That is of course, if we allow ourselves to let these external factors to impact upon our practice and the care we provide for our children.
If we allow ourselves to be continually guided by the guidance, following each new piece of information that is released to the letter, and prioritising what these documents say over the needs, interests and input of our children and their families then the opportunities and provision we provide on a daily basis, lack authenticity and are essentially in place to please/placate the Government/OFSTED rather than the children accessing our settings every day.
When September feels overwhelming, anxiety inducing and stressful, just remember who/what you are doing it for, if you feel like you need to implement new parts of your practice/policy on the back of the guidance and documents being released, before you put them in place, ask yourselves what impact this will have on the children, if it doesn’t benefit the children and your gut instinct tells you it’s not right for your setting, have faith in your professional judgement and your own knowledge of your children’s learning and development needs, and prioritise this over everything.
Above all, put down your pens and paper, read the stories, get down on the floor and play, get to know your new cohort or re-connect with children you haven’t seen over the summer; this is the way September should be spent.