And another thing – all day, the news people have been referring the Tories’ manifesto pledge to double the entitlement to “free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds” from 15 hours a week to 30. Just a cotton-picking minute, there – “free childcare”? I thought “free early-years education” was what was available to 3 and 4 year olds? I thought it was about the children – about development, and school readiness, and a stack of child-centred things which I don’t actually agree with, in the main, but they at least represent an attempt at doing the right thing by the child. I’m pretty sure most nursery teachers would be extremely hostile to idea that what they are providing is “childcare”.
Childcare is not about what is developmentally necessary or appropriate to children. It is about keeping them safe while their parents do something else. And, by some bizarre and unlikely coincidence, the amount of time offered coincides exactly with the amount time the Department for Work and Pensions would like to oblige all parents to be out working, before they can qualify from such poverty-busting interventions as Working Tax Credit.
I’m old school. I believe that children need parents. They don’t need quality affordable childcare, they need parents who aren’t too stressed by work and money and so on, to be able to spend a bit of their own time with their own children. That’s all.