Every Friday, starting today, we’ll be bringing you a curated summary of the week’s most relevant and important sector news; and share with you our opinion on the topics that matter.

Budget 2021

In the 2021 Budget, the Treasury failed to commit much-needed funding for the early years sector. The pandemic has shone a light on the importance of early years to children’s development, parents and wider society. However, providers are facing severe funding losses that will threaten their ability to continue providing quality education and care.

Many in the sector were hoping for support to be set out in the spending plans, but these calls were ignored. An article by daynurseries.co.uk summarises the reaction, and Montessori Group CEO, Leonor Stjepic, and MCI CEO, Maccs Pescatore, have added their voices.

 School return

Parents, teachers and children are preparing for a return to schools on Monday 8th March. All secondary school students are set to be tested for Covid-19 twice a week, and rapid test kits will also be available to students’ families and support bubbles. Find out further details in the Independent.

There remains confusion over whether children are required to wear face masks in the classroom. The Guardian has published calls from headteachers for more decisive guidance to avoid disputes over rules, and many are objecting to the plans due to the effect face coverings may have on children’s ability to learn and communicate.

Children’s mental health

The Observer has reported fears of a mental health crisis in children. Paediatricians, psychologists and charitable groups providing mental health support have seen an increase in demand in recent weeks and longer waiting lists for children in need of help.

In accordance with these concerns, Maccs Pescatore, CEO of Montessori Centre International, has penned an opinion piece for Nursery World about the importance of considering how the pandemic is affecting young children, and the need for clearer guidance around this age group moving forward. Children aged 0-5 are at a critical stage in their development, and extremely vulnerable to the short- and long-term consequences of the crisis. Read the piece here.

With just three days to go before children return to nurseries and schools, this weekend will undoubtedly be a busy one for many of you. We do hope the transition back is a smooth one for all of you, and for small children for whom next week will undoubtedly be an important one.