Toad Hall Nursery Group is a leading voice within the nursery and early years sector and was asked to comment on the opportunities and challenges facing the sector in 2016 as part of an article by Nursery World magazine.
In this article, nursery practitioners and early years experts describe 2016 as “critical” and “one of the most significant years in the sector’s history.” The announcement that the current government will provide 30 hours of free childcare to 3 and 4 year olds means that the early years landscape will need to change dramatically in the coming months.
One of the main points raised in the Nursery World article is about the number of questions that still need to be answered around the 30 hours of funding – nursery sector leaders need to know how the funding will be distributed across local authorities and how to ensure that nurseries can maintain the quality of their provision while under pressure to cut costs.
While there are valid concerns around the 30 hours of free childcare, other experts commenting in the article see it as a key opportunity; having children for a full day rather than a half day opens up so many more possibilities in terms of learning and play. But many of the sector’s experts recognise that managing logistics and recruiting enough staff is a major issue as children spend longer at nursery and numbers increase.
Toad Hall notes the early implementation of the 30 hours of free childcare and comments that the biggest issue at Toad Hall Nursery Group is recruitment and the importance of nutrition:
The biggest issue for us at Toad Hall is likely to be recruitment and ensuring we get the quality of staff that we need to continue to offer high-quality childcare and early learning. The issues with recruiting staff are now becoming critical and we see this becoming the biggest challenge for the sector in 2016. We would like to see a greater emphasis on ensuring children are getting good-quality food and nutritionally balanced meals.