Reading this recent article in Nursery World makes me wonder about the future of the Early Years sector. So many great nurseries are having to close their doors due to being undersubscribed. One of the main contributions towards these closures is the lack of funding. Over the years, the Early Years sector has helped millions of families in crisis, slowly these services are disappearing. When I say the Early Years sector, I mean everyone involved in working with families and the under 5’s. Sure Start centres predominantly help families in crisis. They are known for providing valuable support, parenting classes, creches and helping families wherever the help is needed. In my opinion, there are many factors, that contribute to the education gap widening! One of the things that stands out for me is the closure of the Sure Start centres. So many parents of our next generation, lack various life skills, due to the way in which our society has changed over the years. These centres are the community centre for local families that have no support network locally.
I remember mums being at home, cleaning the house, cooking the dinner and raising the children. Fathers would be out at work, earning the money to provide a roof over the heads of their family and to put food on the table. Children would freely observe how mum had to budget, how she would cook a meal from nothing, how she would recycle clothes, for example, mum could turn her old dress in to a cushion cover. The status in society was judged by how well the children behaved and how clean their houses were, and not by the car that they had, the designer clothes that they wore, or the mobile phone that they owned. How times have changed and not all for the better! Parents now juggle, between work and family, parents do the best that they can, but are generally so tired after a day at work, that the last thing they want to do is cook a meal. This is where the takeaway or microwave meal comes in very handy and is seen to be the easiest option. Many children are now missing out on the cooking skills that have previously been passed down from generation to generation, making me wonder how our younger generation will manage in the future.
Health and nutrition play’s an important role in the well-being of the family. If a child is lacking certain nutrients in their diet, the child may not be mentally equipped to learn. Recent studies show that our young people are consuming far too much sugar in their diet and that high levels of sugar and salt are found in many convenience foods. I have attached an article by The Association of UK Dieticians (BDA) which explains why food is important for the brain!
Parents from disadvantaged backgrounds, are less likely to achieve in education as the main priority in their household is survival. Putting food on the table, a roof over their heads, heating and lighting, clothing, all take priority over education.
Our local Sure Start centres provide a learning hub for parents, which in my opinion is a necessary service that contributes towards ‘bridging the gap.’ With the continued lack of funding from the government in early Years, we will continue to see the gap in education widen!