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Scotland the Brave

Updated: Jul 11, 2022




 

I currently write this sat in the shadow of Ben Cruachan. The highest point in Argyll and Bute that shoots more than one thousand metres into the sky. If anything, it reinforces to me how alien this experience has felt so far.


Within Oban’s 1st Steps Day Nursery, everything feels familiar yet odd. Realising the Ambition: Being Me (RtA, Education Scotland, 2020), the Scottish equivalent of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS, DfE, 2021) Statutory framework, is that national practice guidance for early years in Scotland. Similarly, to the EYFS (DfE, 2021), the RtA (Education Scotland, 2020) promotes several areas that are significant in the development of children.

Within the Scottish system, the importance of play, an enabling environment and the significance of positive interactions all play a crucial role in promoting the development and life opportunities of the children. However, many details within the curriculum, the way it is understood and the approaches to practice differ with our own within the EYFS (DfE, 2021). It is as if each detail is altered just enough to confuse me.



Today I questioned Oban 1st Steps Day Nurseries deputy manager on some of these details. At the end of this 40-minute meeting I had a better understanding of the ways the setting interacted with its council and its community; and with a stack of documentation, legislation and policies that currently sits strewn around my room. Each piece needing scrutiny till I come to the realisation that “oh this is like the EYFS/Developmental matters” or any other document with which I am more familiar. It seems that the meaning behind the text and the way it is put into practice are identical to that of our own, the difference is in how it is presented.

 

I believe my overall take away from this experience in Scotland will be the ways in which the

setting interacts with the local authority. As I am sure many nursery owners across England are aware, Scottish settings receive £5.64 per hour for a funded child. This is compared to the £4.72 for English settings. However, this additional funding increases the stake that the government hold over the settings. With greater funding comes the bureaucratic need to ensure greater accountability. As such the Care Inspectorate, the governing body that regulates quality across Scottish care services, inspects childcare settings at a much greater frequency. For a setting

registered for children aged 0-16 completes an inspection once every 24 months, or once every 36 months for a setting registered for children aged 3-16. This is compared to once within a six-year window for English childcare settings. All inspection completed by the Care Inspectorate are unannounced, no matter the previous rating of a childcare setting. Ofsted, however, will notify a setting up to two working days before an inspection. Of course, this negates any inspections because of a safeguarding concern or previous ‘requires improvement’ gradings.


 

Having worked in a large chain nursery before, I am aware that these settings that benefit from being a part of a franchise; use these next 48 hours following that phone call from Ofsted to call in additional resources and educators. As a result of this, Ofsted gets an unclear picture of the usual day-to-day function of these settings. I believe, however, that having unannounced inspections across the entirety of the UK will benefit the quality of provision across the board. These settings that call on thousands of pounds worth of educators and additional resources will not benefit from their deep pockets



 



 

My experience in Oban was sadly cut short. An educator had tested positive for COVID-19, and I was advised by management to not attend. No worries, however, as this is one of the risks in taking part in this learning journey. After testing myself and coming back negative, myself and Beech Tree Childcare’s Business Manager (my babysitter) decided to explore the tiny corner of Scotland we found ourselves in. The remaining days in Argyll and Bute were spent visiting castles that once held traitors to the Scottish Crown, exploring the town Balamory was filmed in (Tobermory on the Isle of Mull) and taking in the splendour of the natural world around us.





I currently sit in West Sussex, struggling with the 30C heat and yearning for the cold breeze of the Scottish Glenn. Whilst my experience was even shorter than expected, I am coming to grips with the Scottish Early Years System. Seeing its benefits (higher funded hours and the unannounced inspections of the Care Inspectorate) and its drawbacks (the higher involvement by the council in the running of private nurseries). As such, it is not as clear cut as saying one system is better than the other: with the loser completely conforming to the ideals, practices, and approaches of the other. Simply put, both systems have a lot to learn from each other, and hopefully experience like these promote the cooperation and communication needed to begin that process.


 


 


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