Happy New Year: Let's…

By June O'Sullivan

| 03 January 2019

I gave up the idea of new year resolutions a long time ago and 40 per cent of people give up their resolutions within a fortnight. Setting yourself a resolution is the quickest way to madness. When I decide I won't drink any wine for a week, all I think about is wine. If I decide not to eat chocolate, all that looms before me are giant-size packets of KitKat. So, I am not intending to drive myself mad by setting out resolutions which are also so often sick bags full of the L'oreal because you are worth it vomit.

Last year I discovered a life changing book, which I commend to you. In these politically crass times. Swearing Is Go*d F*r You by Emma Byrne is a must read providing plenty of scientific reasons why swearing is the best response.

Here are two of my favourite reasons:

"Research shows swearing can help build teamwork in the workplace and is as likely to be used in frustration with oneself or in solidarity, or to amuse someone as it is to be used as fighting words."

And:

"Swearing makes our heart beat faster and primes us to think aggressive thoughts while, paradoxically, making us less likely to be physically violent."

In the world of early years and social enterprise, areas which are important to me, we have not moved forward much. Maybe a few small steps. Issues such as child obesity continue to get worse despite lots of initiatives and effort. Likewise, the situation with child poverty where we will fail to achieve the 2020 target to end child poverty and in doing so risk the stability of our wider society. You can't rely on a gated housing estate to protect you from the wider consequences of poverty.

Reform in early childhood education continues to be tempered by political ideology and economic limitations. The sector continues to beat itself up by not fully collaborating around single issues.

Funding, which we are assured is sufficient by our minister and his DfE staff remains insufficient, so nurseries continue to close, especially in poor neighbourhoods. Some people, think that the world is run by the government and fail to strengthen their own independent position in return for a paltry non-life changing grant. I can only hope that all those organisations are as familiar with Jonathon Swift's view that power is no blessing, except when it is used to protect the innocent. Let's hope this remains the principle from which we can all go forward.

But here is the upside! In 2019, there will be a second series of Killing Eve, and the charms of assassin Villanelle.

The Young Offenders, a spoof set in my hometown with a panoply of swearing cocks a snook at the establishment will have a return series.

There are some good reads from 2018 and before which need re-reading. They will get you to think a bit more about the role you play in either disrupting or colluding (you decide!) in the current education system. I have added David Didau whose book will be published later this month.

At LEYF, we will launch our Chef Academy and by the end of the year be offering the Level 2 Professional Cooking in Early Years Link across the sector. Hurrah, finally after five years of patient pushing we have got there. Early years chefs will finally have their own qualification.

I will be inviting people to join my pedagogy conversations to discuss what modern pedagogy needs to encompass for the child of 2019. This includes joining colleagues later this term in Twickenham for BrewEY and Firm Foundations in Bath to deepen that discussion. Ofsted has started to talk about pedagogy and cultural capital, both central to the LEYF approach, but we know that unless we own the concept we are at risk it being bounced by the well-meaning or business savvy into a misunderstood, simplified and cliched interpretation of a complex concept.

So, 2019 has to be the year of deep conversations about what early childhood education means for children. We learned from OBC link that you have to own your own destiny. My friend Lala Manners requoted a wise statement which she read in the Martin Pace book I love Forest Schools:

"Trust in the richness of your own context."

That really must be the mantra for 2019.

June O'Sullivan is chief executive of London Early Years Foundation. This blog first appeared on the LEYF website

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