In the news this week – 26th March 2021

This week marked one year since the UK went into lockdown and in her first speech the new children’s commissioner talked about play. Meanwhile, the government launched its Early Years Healthy Development Review, to reduce inequalities in the first 1,001 days of life.

Catch-up play is of equal importance to catch-up learning

In a speech this week, Dame Rachel de Souza, the new children’s commissioner for England, talked to the Evening Standard about the importance of play, meeting friends and catching up on essential childhood experiences. “Giving children opportunities to rediscover play, sport, clubs and activities and just spending time with their friends must be one of the foundations of helping to get back on track.”

This sentiment is echoed by Preeti Patel, MCI’s Head of Education who said, “The Montessori approach, which focuses on nurturing skills such as creativity, communication, independence and problem-solving, critical thinking can and should be supported through play.  Children’s learning happens during their play; in fact, their play is their work so coming out of Covid our focus as educators should be on those facilitating those childhood experiences which have just not been possible in the year of lockdowns.”

The government’s plan for babies

A campaign, #WhatAboutUs, launched by The First 1001 Days Movement is calling for babies to be put on an equal footing to school children in the government’s Covid catch-up programme. You can read more in Nursery World.

The campaign coincides with the publication of the government’s Early Years Healthy Development Review to improve babies’ and children’s development and reduce inequalities in the first 1,001 days of life. The review highlights six action areas including to support and empower the workforce, which resonates strongly with the asks of our own Montessori community. In a piece for the Times, Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, and Early Years Health Adviser, Andrea Leadsom MP, share more details on the plans.

In response, the former children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield, welcomed the news that early years is now moving from being a ‘soft policy issue’ to one which is about levelling up. However, she has called for the government to invest in early years provision and to set aside money for young children in the next spending review, as reported in the Evening Standard.

Birth to Five launches on 31st March 2021.  Please click here for more information.