The Government has announced £642 million for nurseries in a bid to improve the childcare on offer.
The money will go towards improving nurseries, computers and equipment for disabled children and help deliver the extension of the 12.5 hours a week free entitlement to nursery care for three and four year olds to 15 hours a week.
Announcing the money last week, Children’s Minister Beverley Hughes said the Government wanted all children to start school with higher basic skills and social, emotional and physical development.
She said: “We know that high quality early learning makes a real difference to children’s development with lasting effects throughout primary school. Our vision is about giving all parents the choice to use affordable and high quality childcare when making decisions about balancing their home and work lives.”
She added that the Government wants to ensure all nurseries provide quality care and meet the standards set by the Early Years Foundation Stage. The money will also allow smaller providers to supply the kind of flexible care that parents need.
The extra money was welcomed by childcare workers. Alison Garnham, joint chief executive of the Daycare Trust, said the money would be a “huge help” for nurseries in meeting the extension of free childcare hours.
She added: “We also welcome the Minister’s announcement that some of the funding will be used to help smaller providers deliver flexible care. Parents need childcare to fit their working hours, not at times to suit providers and with 87 per cent of parents working ‘atypical’ hours, many part-time, this is one of the key problem areas which parents report to us.”
Busy parents under pressure to help with schoolwork
Children’s lives are becoming increasingly “scholarised” as parents feel the pressure to help them achieve, despite having less and less time to spend with them, says new research.
The research by the Cambridge University Primary Review found that parents feel under a lot of pressure to read to and help their children with their schoolwork, but have very little time due to work commitments.
The researchers say government moves to get parents more involved in their children’s education could ratchet up the pressure, leaving parents feeling guilty and inadequate.
Instead they recommend that parents should encourage their children to have more free time and criticise the moves towards more after-school clubs and breakfast clubs which they say increase scholastic pressure on children.
Children of working mums more likely to be obese
The children of working mothers are more likely to be obese teenagers, according to new research.
The research by the University of Bristol found that children aged between 5 and 7 whose mother works are more obese than other children by age 16. The weight gain is gradual and there is no evidence of any difference for part-time or full-time working mothers.
Previous research in the US showed similar results. The UK research looked at whether the age at which a mother goes out to work influences children’s weight. The research shows children whose mothers work full-time when they are between 5 and 7 years old are up to 8% more likely to be obese at age 16 than average.
Analysts say this could be cause working mothers are less likely to cook and rely more on ready-made meals and children spend more time with carers who have different attitudes to food than the parents. Another reason given is that children who are not under parental supervision are more likely to choose poor food and to watch tv or play computer games. It is also suggested that the period between the ages of 5 and 7 is important for establishing children’s later eating habits.