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Children have always been considered as the main object of adults’ hopes and ambitions. Children are the basis of this or that country’s development and these are children that the future of the country depends on. Unfortunately, it often happens that adults do not fully realize that they are responsible for children and they often neglect their duties. The constant neglecting leads to decline in the conservative assumption of children and the ruin of the existing system of child care.
Happilly, there are always attempts to change the drastic situation made on the state level that never let adults forget about their responsibilities. In the current work we are going to study one of them. Namely, this is Every Child Matters, and the programs related to it. What will acquire our special attention is the impact of these programs on primary education.
Every Child Matters
Every Child Matters: Change for Children is England Government’s program aimed at enhancement of the state’s system of child care. This project unites the professionals dealing with children in their attempts to provide appropriate children’s care. It maintains the right of children and young people for good life notwithstanding their age, social status and problems they have.
The project highlights the importance of people’s awareness of helping children to lead happy, successful, healthy and safe life. Going by the document the Government realizes the importance of the integrated and effective professional work aimed at improvement the life of children and young people and singles out particular services that need urgent changes.
These are: Health (this implies helping to prevent children’s illnesses and improving the overall system of child health care); Education (teaching children with paying special attention to children who have problems in schools); Social Services (they are responsible for protecting children from harm, helping families in bringing children up and solving the problem related to children care); Youth Offending Teams (helping children and young people to stay out of trouble); Connexions (the service responsible for advising teenagers); Youth and Leisure Services (providing children with diverse extra-curriculum activities).
The goals that the program under consideration has established are expected to be achieved by agencies, that is, organizations that provide the services stated above and by professionals that work in these organizations. Teachers, doctors, social workers, police officers and other people who are not indifferent to present and future of the children and are capable of implementing the basics of the project.
The need for change in the system of child’s care could not have been neglected any longer after the tragic death of Victoria Climbié, the child abuse and murder victim killed by her guardians. In the forward to the program the Prime Minister says admits that Climbié’s case is the shame for the whole country. Though “nothing can ever absolutely guarantee that no child will ever be at risk again from abuse and violence from within their own family”, the creators of the Every Child Matters believe that the proposals that they put forward will decrease this risk as much as possible. (Every Child Matters 2003)
A key way of delivering the program’s outcomes is setting up extended services through extended schools. Extended schools will face a real challenge as for developing extended services, but they are expected to be provided with support and practical advice about how to do so. Extended schools should collaborate with local authorities, local providers and other schools to provide a range of activities that include: study support, sport and music clubs, parenting and family support, multi-agency behavior support teams, targeted and specialist services, adult and family learning and the like. Most often the services and activities are provided beyond the school day.
They are aimed at meeting the needs of children, their families as well as the whole community. In the work of the extended schools special attention is given to collaboration with parents of the children. By consulting them and involving in the planning of services, this or that extended school will succeed more in the meeting the needs of child’s community.
As far as the primary education is concerned, it is planned that by 2010 all parents of primary-age children will be guaranteed affordable and adequate care of their children at schools from 8 am to 6 pm, all year round. The establishment providing the childcare will either be a nearby school or any primary school “on a different site provided in partnership with private or voluntary sector providers (including childminders), with supervised travel arrangements to and from the provision” (Every Child Matters 2003).
Among the perspectives of primary education it is also expected that “by 2010 all three and four year olds will receive15 hours of free integrated early learning and care for 38 weeks of the year (increasing from the current 12.5 hours). Parents will have flexibility to use the free entitlement over a minimum of three days and to purchase additional hours” (Every Child Matters 2003).
There exist several models of delivery of the childcare services that schools and providers can adopt: direct delivery – in this case schools become direct deliverers of the childcare offers and are responsible for making all the arrangements themselves (such as employing staff and administering and charging for the provision); delivery with third parties – this model presupposes that schools will apply to the help of the third party provider from the private or voluntary sector; working in clusters with other local schools – it means that schools will collaborate to share resources to enhance the service and to ensure the work of the services over holiday periods; providing care for the children of the very early years – schools will be co-located with a children’s centre which is responsible for provision and families support.
One of the strategic goals for primary education with respect to extended schools is to combine high quality childcare with activities that will help raising educational achievements; children will get arts, sports and volunteering activities in such schools. Among the benefits of such schools is that children’s life quality will be improved as parents will have more chances to get involved in the working process thus raising their material well-being.
The work of the primary schools will guarantee safe environment for children and evoke parental confidence in the services that they provide. Parents should not worry about how their children have rest, play and have a healthy snack. Much attention is paid to play in primary schools. Plays are introduced in the education process for fun in its own, but for more effective exploration of the world around. The more plays are implemented in the education process the more interesting, memorable and thus effective it will be.
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When talking about plays as a constituent part of the education process we could not neglect the problem of the space for childcare as often it becomes a really big concern for educational establishments. If there are appropriate existing facilities, they are to be made the best use of. If there is no such an opportunity, the primary school should collaborate with some neighboring schools or other local providers. The program we are discussing in the current work addresses the problem of appropriate capital funding for creating the necessary facilities. The role of the local authorities in management of building and premises is the dominant one.
Woodthorpe Community Primary School in York is the school which work is based on the principles stated above. The school collaborates with the National Childminding Association that provides childcare all school day long. The registered childminders look after children in their homes, collect and drop off children at the school and after school, fill in the gaps between various activities. Childminders are also responsible for working with parents, therefore, the schools function in close collaboration with the pupils’ parents implementing their views on the education process thus making it as much fruitful as possible.
Though the English government “wanted all schools and children and families to be able to access a core of extended services which are developed in partnership with others”, (DfES 2005) the amount of money that the it announced (actually, it is £680 million for 2005-2008, of which £250 million will go directly to schools and £430 million to local authorities) is not enough for the plan’s realization to full extent. It becomes clear that schools will develop a significant charging regime where not all the families will have access to.( DfES 2005) Thus, until the government’s actions are substantiated by sufficient capital funding the core ideas of the Every Child Matters and the programs that go along with it will still remain more theoretical than practical.
Keeping this in mind one should not underestimate the achievements of the documents we discuss. The theoretical basis for the changes in the whole system of education and in the primary education, in particular, is crucial and need urgent implementation, as it is:
- Aimed at all-rounded pupil’s development;
- Aimed at improvement of childcare system;
- Aimed at enhancement of collaboration between education and other services;
- Provides the logical connections between various educational levels and admits the importance of primary education as a springboard for further development;
- Unites the attempts of professionals from different fields over the problem of child care;
- It is expected to get a good return on a relatively low level of funding.
We strongly believe that people who really care of the destiny of the UK children will do their best to find practical implication of the theoretical issues raised in the document. Their strong desire to change the current situation in education for better, their profound knowledge in the sphere under consideration and long-term experience will be a springboard for the programs’ success and their driving force.
Association of Teachers and Lecturers, 2004. Extended Schools – Position Statement, London: Association of Teachers and Lecturers. Web.
Department for Education and Skills, 2005. Extended schools: Access to opportunities and services for all. A prospectus, London: Department for Education and Skills. Web.
Dryfoos, J., 1994. Full-Service Schools. A revolution in health and social services for children, youth and families, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Dryfoos, J. G. ,1998. A Look at Community Schools in 1998, New York: National Center for Schools and Communities.
Dyson, A., Millward, A. and Todd, L., 2002. A Study of ‘Extended Schools Demonstration Projects’, London: Department for Education and Skills. Web.
Halpin, D., 2003. Hope, utopianism and educational renewal. The encyclopedia of informal education. Web.
Smith, M. K., 2004. Extended schooling – some issues for informal and community education, the encyclopedia of informal education. Web.
The Chief Secretary, 2003. Every Child Matters, Presented to Parliament by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury by Command of Her Majesty. Web.