Within this resource pack, I aim to guide practitioners and parents to implement the five outcomes of every child matters for children age four and five years in their care. I will begin by given the historical background of Every Child Matters and Policies and Legislative material in order to outline the definitions of social justice and inclusion. Also, I will discuss the significance and possible barriers of inclusion. Portions of the resource pack will reflect critically on Every Child Matters agenda which led to the enactment of The Children Act 2004 linking it to the five outcomes.
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In 2003, the government initiated Every Child Matters which was launched in the United Kingdom followed by the death of Victoria Climbie. It was a significant plan of the government to change and improve the lives of children and children’s services. The idea of the plan was to safeguard children; however it went beyond and expands the prospects available to young people from birth to 19 years. After the death of Victoria Climbie, there was a long meeting of all the various professionals working in children services. The outcome of the meeting underlined a lot of failure of the system, such as not being able to protect vulnerable children from purposeful harm. As the above has not being the only or a one off incident this was based on professionals not communicating with one another therefore Lord Laming suggested a structural reform which means different agencies working together (DfES, 2003).
Following the consultation, the Government published Every Child Matters, the next steps which gave way to the Children Act 2004 which provided the legislative backbone for developing more useful and within reach services, focused around the needs of children, young people and families. The document carried 108 recommendations for fundamental changes. It aimed at supporting all children to have the support they need, no matter whatever their background or circumstances. This Act brought in a change for children. In 2005 a Children’s Commissioner for England was assigned to stand for the views of children. The Every Child Matters agenda was further developed in 2007 through the publication of the Children’s Plan. This plan was a ten year strategy ensuring that every child gets the best in life and helps parent into work as well as making an informed choices about child care and family life. Also it aims to improve children’s educations, health and eradicate poverty (DfES, 2004).
Every Child Matters focuses on the well being of children and young people. It lays emphasis on better outcome for children, hence the five outcomes a guideline every practitioner should follow. Being Healthy requires that Early Years settings must show that practitioners are enabling children to be in an environment that let them to enjoy physical, mental and emotional health. All settings have the responsibility to make sure children learn how to achieve these things for themselves and live healthy lifestyles and understand the importance of being healthy (Knowles 2009:59), this has significance to Article (24) (27) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which recommends that all children should have right to health, clean water and environment, nutritious food, and have a good standard of living that meets moral and social needs (Bruce and Meggitt 2007). One will include that children should be supported through various measure, ensuring that they are mentally and emotionally healthy, practitioners must promote, encourage and set good example through the curriculums and its policies and practice as well as attracting children in physical activity in order to educate them on how to wash their hands and what to eat and drink. Also families should be provided with other health-care support needed which represents the good multi agency practice already in place at Children Centres (DfES, 2004c). (Practitioners should refer to appendix A for illustration of promoting a healthy environment for children).
The next key outcome is Staying Safe which enables children to be safe from maltreatment, neglect, violence and harm. Practitioners should ensure that there is policies and procedure in place that clearly demonstrate an ethos of zero tolerance to bullying. Children should be protected from maltreatment, ensuring that providers and all relevant staff are appropriately trained in order to contribute to their safe from any harm. This is in relation to UNCRC article (9) (19) which states that all children should be protected from violence, abuse and neglect and Government should protect them (Meggitt and Bruce 2007) One could argue that providing a safe and secure environment will enable the children to achieve their full potential. (Practitioners’ should refer to Appendix B for the illustration of keeping safe).
Enjoying and achieving is the third most crucial outcome which stresses that children of all potentials are to be helped to achieve personal and social development with particular focus on those with special and additional needs and also to those in disadvantage and isolated areas (Bruce and Meggit 2007). Practitioners in early year’s settings should make available for all children to achieve their full potential despite their educational needs. Also pupils should be provided with an environment regardless of any physical disability so that they can access the social and educational aspects of school. Furthermore practitioners should promote and support inclusive learning, gender, culture, social and emotional desires. Lastly children with special education needs (SEN) should be encouraged by practitioners to experience equal opportunities to achieve and attain their ultimate goal (Knowles 2009) This is eminent of the UNCRC, article (28) (29) stresses that all children have the right to an education and the purpose of education is to develop every child’s personality, talents and mental physical abilities. (Practitioners should refer to appendix C for illustration of the above).
One could agree that taken education to some extend will teach children to respect individuals, their own and other culture and also prepare children to live responsibly and peacefully in a free society. Within the policy document, the section on enjoying and achieving cited in (DfES 2003:para1.8) meaning that out of the five outcomes this does give a highlight on leisure time whilst the rest is mainly about educational attainment. Children imagine “Enjoying” as playing yet within this document it seems to be more emphasising on education. Enjoying appears to be one of the most vital outcomes requested by children. If children are seen as the citizens of the present why not pay particular attention to them. It is important to respect their views (William 2004:412 cited in Hendricks: 2008).
In additional to this, making a positive contribution to children’s life is most important this include taking part in decision making and supporting the community, being law abiding, developing positive relationships with others being, self confident and able to deal with challenges and enterprise behaviour (Bruce and Meggitt 2007). In essence practitioners should encourage children to partake in planning and development of activities. This correspond to article (12) of the UNCRC which requires that the views of children must be sought after and given due weight in all matters affecting them.
Lastly, achieving economic well-being helps children to conquer income barriers and achieve their full potential (Bruce and Meggitt 2007). Consequently, practitioners should make sure that children are given the best start in life. Evidently, educational attainment is the most effective route out of poverty. Within article (24) of the UNCRC achieving economic well-being the standard of living for children should meet their physical, mental, spiritual moral and social needs (DfES 2004). (Practitioners should refer to appendix E)
The reason for writing this resources pack is to guide and support early years practitioners, parents and carers to implement the five outcomes of every child matters in the settings. Although Every Child Matters agenda outcomes seeks to promote the well being of all children which is underpinned by social justice and inclusion, practitioner still needs some ground rules to follow. Social justice is a theme in the United Nations and the European agenda for young children (Jones et al 2008:106). In Britain social justice is a belief that is currently in used to support public policies and practices with a view of making sure that all have equivalent chance to achieve the necessary goods and provisions they need to thrive and achieve well. This idea of fairness is embedded in the concept of social justice (Knowles 2009). Many young people as citizens take their rights and responsibilities seriously as it is necessary to keep hold of the belief in freedom and rights. Undesirably, some of the policies linked to social welfare are challenge by beliefs of rights and justice (Jones et al 2008).
In an ideal and fair society all children and families should have an equal chance of achieving well being yet the society we live in is homogenous entity. This encompasses of huge number of smaller groups between which is unequal distribution of power and access to goods and as part of the unequal power distribution some groups will knowingly and unknowingly discriminate against others. In this way some are prevented from being able to achieve well-being (Knowles, 2009:5). The achievement gap between boys and girls is smaller than that between working class children and middle class children. The focus on underachieving boys hide the fact that boys who come from the different class background and that some middle class boys gain well and some working girls do not.
Practitioners should promote a healthy environment for all the children in their care. (Practitioners should refer to appendix A), practitioners should engaged and also supervised the children when they are washing their hands. A child needs water to stay healthy therefore practitioners should make water fountain accessible. Being healthy is in line with Emotional Healthy and Well-being, (2008 cited in Knowles 2009:60) which states that ‘promoting positive health and well being of children helps them to understand and express their feelings as well as building confidence’. In other words practitioners should listen and respect children views. According to Rinaldi 2001 (cited in Abbott, 1999), listening means being open to differences and recognising the value of different points of view and the interpretation of others. Children should be allowed to play and rest anytime they want to.
As I have mention earlier practitioners should promote a safer environment for the children. Practitioners should support learning with symbolizing materials for children who are not able to read text. This helps them to understand what is required in different situation. According to Piaget (cited in Penn 2008 :42) ‘It is the teachers job to provide a well resourced classroom, where children could have lots of opportunities to learn for themselves how things worked, with guidance and suggested from the teachers’.
Every child has the right to enjoy and achieve, practitioners should make play a high lead as this is central form of learning. Children should have the opportunity to play for thirty minutes this must involve children with special needs. Also, both boys and girls need to be allowed to experiment wider range of play. For example if a boy wants to ride a pink bicycle he should be permitted to do so. According to Vygotsky (cited in Penn 2008 :43) play is a mental kind of support system which allows children to represent their everyday social reality’ and therefore enables them to think and act in more complex ways to invent their own rules and narratives’.
In regards to achieving economic well being practitioners’ must make sure that neutral advice and quality information are available to children and their families in order to make a thriving move to further learning.
In addition to this Practitioners’ should ensure that children are provided with access to different facilities and safe spaces where they can meet and engage in positive activities. For example play grounds with various facilities.
At the centre of all these lies inclusion, this has been one of the vital problems in the early year’s framework. Social Inclusion is a focal point within the early year’s education and care policy documents. The Government has stomp inclusion as the ‘Keystone to good practice’ (DfEE 1998:8). It is the process by which early years settings develop their ethos, policies, and practices to include all learners with the aim of meeting their individual needs. Historically, inclusion has been seen as a process that is relevant to those groups who have been marginalised, but now it is about all children, and it is closely linked to the Government’s ‘personalised learning’ agenda that lie at the heart of the EYFS. ‘Practitioners’ should deliver personalised learning development and care to help children to get the best possible start in life’ (DfES, 2007a, paragraph 1.7).
One would argue that social Inclusion denotes that all children are involved in appropriate activities making sure that they will not feel isolated or excluded from taking part in any learning performances for whatever reason. This link up with what Roffey (2001) proposes that inclusion does not only take charge of a few children but all. She went on to say that one of the main achievement of the last twenty years legislation has been “the increase focus on the desirability of inclusive practices rather than the segregation of children with special education needs” which is backed by the 1994 Salamanca statement that pose the Government to agree to the principle of inclusive education and make it a policy (www.unesco.com).
Children who find it hard to communicate in class often feels excluded I believe that when practitioners introduce symbol cards in the settings it will help children who feels shy to talk in class and also, it will raise confidence among children and enable them to deal positively with life changes and challenges. Again it will stop practitioners wrongly labelling children as being slow. For example my little boy is very loud at home but very quite in school so when he was introduced to the symbols cards, at his nursery he began to involve in the classroom activities. Practitioners will send newsletters to the parents to inform them about family evenings. In the interest of the child, practitioners and parents should work together to see how best they can understand each other. Helen Penn (2008) noted that working together will not only help the child but also make the individuals understand each other’s professional rareness and work together this will not isolate the child.
After the peer assessment group discussion, I went home to read over the comments my peers made about my resource pack. My peers noted both positive and negative comments therefore I decided to correct the negative ones. Within my resource pack, I explained the five outcomes of Every Child Matters but I had not planned for the activities so I started to gather information about the activities. I had written down my points which I have not yet linked to theory and practice and also had to expand on my points. I found it a bit difficult finding books for the assignment and there was no evidence of critical thinking in my resource pack. During the Christmas break I borrowed books from the university library so I started rewriting my whole work again. Moreover I had already written down notes of what I was going to write for the resource pack so I added some little information from the books I had borrowed. Although I had planned wanted to do, it was still not easy for me to do, as I did not know where to begin. However, the comments given by my peers really helped me to get started.
An activity I had planned for the practitioners was for them to give the children in their care all the telephone numbers of people and organisation to contact when they feel unsafe. Later on I changed my mind, to make a poster which can be on the classroom walls so that children can always revisit when they need help. I had read children story book on what they should do when they are in trouble and I found it very good which I wanted to include in the main essay however I was advised by my colleague to put it in the appendix and then refer it in the main essay. Also, I had printed out some pictures which I was going to use for my activities but was told by the initial group not to use them. However, during the second group discussion in lectures, I joined another peer assessment group who were pleased with the pictures and I was told to use them. I found the peer assessment very helpful because I met different people and got various feedbacks regarding my course work.
To conclude this, practitioners should ensure that the resource pack is followed as required, because it provides vital and timely contribution to the development of children between the ages of four and five. As laid out in the Every Child Matters agenda every child has the right to education irrespective of his or her background that is cultural, religion and gender or needs. Practitioners’ should develop a very good relationship with parent and carers this is very important on children’s achievement as well as leading them into adolescence and better adulthood. Part of healthy and successful education comes from home. Involving parents and the community will have a good impact in the setting. Similarly, it makes parents feel a part of the setting and their children education. Also, practitioners’ should recognise individual needs of each child and respond to them by organising extensive teaching strategies to help them. Conversely, practitioners’ should also create and work in multicultural settings which ought to demonstrate an understanding of the value of diversity and respect for difference.