24th September 2020 All Posts Guest Blog

Connect Childcare interviews Jan Dubiel: Part 2

Navigating the constant state of flux across the sector

There’s no doubt the Early Years industry has been – and continues to be – battling highly pressurised expectations and an unwavering level of admin, alongside maintaining quality learning for young children.

And with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) review taking place, what more could be done in order to encourage youngsters to grow and develop during these critical foundations?

In the second instalment of our interview with Early Years expert Jan Dubiel, we sat down with him – prior to the UK lockdown – to discuss the EYFS strategy, how we fared in comparison to our international counterparts and the vital need for stresses and strains to be alleviated on our industry’s staff and childminders. Here are his key insights…

As with any sector, it’s always important to reflect on the challenges and opportunities – and that’s certainly no different for Early Years. In fact, when speaking about the review, Jan believes we should allow ourselves to think about how we can continue to make child education the very best it can be.

Jan recommends that having an Early Learning goal specifically around self-regulation is a very positive step forward. But he’s no stranger to exactly how much strain the sector is currently facing.

“There are, and always have been, huge tensions in the EYFS and we’re dealing with a professional workforce that feels like it’s under siege.”

With the struggles that practitioners come under – constantly being stretched and pulled in different directions – Jan hopes the review will open the floodgates to enforce a wider debate in how we can develop children’s learning, and be confident to do so.

How do our educational practices fare on a global scale?

Internationally, Jan notices a real difference – especially in China where there’s a real reverence towards Early Years and the impact it plays on child development, something he believes is perceived as being quite different in the UK.

“We’re constantly in a state of flux and I’m hoping – in a couple of years when the new EYFS beds down – that we might have a bit more clarity and certainty and more confidence about what we do.”

And we agree. Yes, Early Years educators should be valued, respected and empowered to carry out the critical job that they do every single day. Each interaction they have with a child can have a dramatic impact in both the short and long term.

So, what can we do more to further encourage our industry and not place them under so much intense pressure? 

What the next steps look like for the EYFS reforms

In response to the current state of the sector – and being able to take a laser-beam focus to delve into what the future holds – Jan acknowledges that we almost have to accept that the industry will always experience flux.

However, we must put things in place that enable educators to be dynamic in how they approach excessive workloads and everyday pressures – and that’s where technology can play a pivotal role.

But, Jan warns that smart processes and advanced digital solutions are only worthwhile if they provide a benefit to, in our case, teachers and childminders.

We shouldn’t be forcing practitioners to understand new technology if it doesn’t ultimately make their lives better. For example, does it reduce workloads and time-consuming admin tasks? And, overall, provide the opportunity to focus on what really matters – developing youngsters?

And when discussing the EYFS reforms, Jan says there are always lessons to be learnt from each iteration, and now is the time for realignment.

We need to see this time as an opportunity and look at the fundamentals of practice. What is it that we want? What do we need to achieve? And how do we do it?”

Ensuring that the professionalism of the workforce is of paramount importance. So, now is the time to empower our practitioners and make sure they’re fully informed to deliver the best possible education for our Early Years children.

We’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to Jan for spending the time with us to share his critical insights.

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About the Author

Connect Childcare have been developing purpose built nursery management software for the past 15 years. Their missions is: To develop management software that improves the lives of children, globally.