Thursday, 11 March 2010

Excellent 'childcare on non-domestic premises'

But pedagogic purpose?

Rainbow Centre in Fareham near the South Coast of England has just received its third rating as 'excellent' by 'Ofsted' (the Office for Standards in Education), the bureaucratic inspection service to oversee compliance with the Governments requirements for what constitutes 'education' and, at the preschool age, 'care' in England.

One of the major problems for the establishment and development of Conductive Education in England over the last twenty or so years has been the need to fit in with these requirements, which are founded upn philosophical constructs altogether antithetical to the ideas and values of conductive upbringing and pedagogy.

The choice for any children's service is a simple one: comply or close. The task for conductivists is to duck and dive, compromise and and hoodwink, in order to hang on to the essence of what they believe while still ensuring that all the bureaucrats' boxes get ticked.

This said, perhaps all the more credit to Rainbow for its consistently excellent results.

Instructive

Just published on the Internet in Ofsted's latest report on Rainbow. A few quotations illustrate the degree of cognitive dissonance involved.

The Rainbow Centre for Conductive Education
Inspection report for early years provision

Type of setting      Childcare on non-domestic premises

‘Early years provision’ refers to provision regulated by Ofsted for children from birth to 31 August following their fifth birthday (the early years age group). The registered person must ensure that this provision complies with the statutory framework for children’s learning, development and welfare, known as the Early Years Foundation Stage.

The centre is registered to provide care for up to 20 children aged from two to under eight years of age at any one time. There are currently 27 children on roll of

The committee employs a qualified conductor to manage the setting on a day to day basis. An additional six qualified conductors and an assistant work directly with the children. Volunteer helpers and students assist these staff.

The effectiveness of leadership and management of the early years provision

The conductors are effectively trained to ensure children's well-being and good health, for example, they undertake training to carry out specific medical procedures. A total of 10 staff including conductors and administration staff at the centre hold current first aid certificates. In an emergency, this enables children to receive prompt treatment.

Comprehensive risk assessments for the building, garden and outings effectively promote children's safety

Exceptional support through staffing and equipment enables children to participate fully. Excellent use of outings within the local community and visitors to the setting widen children’s understanding of the world they live in. The conductors are highly qualified, and very experienced in their roles and responsibilities, and the whole staff team work harmoniously together.

The quality and standards of the early years provision and outcomes for children

Children's learning is extremely well integrated and effective. The conductors incorporate children's very diverse needs in a highly effective way into planning for their progress and development. The conductors are creative at including the EYFS into the tailored activities children require, for example, whilst massaging children's feet they talk about the recent cold weather and touch the children's skin with ice. As a result, children have their senses stimulated through different mediums and this underpins children's understanding of different concepts well. Children enjoy their time at the centre and have fun. The conductors very effectively use singing and eye contact throughout activities. This contributes extremely well to children's

The quality and standards of the early years provision and outcomes for children

Children's learning is extremely well integrated and effective. The conductors incorporate children's very diverse needs in a highly effective way into planning for their progress and development. The conductors are creative at including the EYFS into the tailored activities children require, for example, whilst massaging children's feet they talk about the recent cold weather and touch the children's skin with ice. As a result, children have their senses stimulated through different mediums and this underpins children's understanding of different concepts well. Children enjoy their time at the centre and have fun. The conductors very effectively use singing and eye contact throughout activities. This contributes extremely well to children's

Effective, clear and concise observations demonstrate children's achievements. The conductors and parents both carry out observations. Therefore, the information gathered is meaningful.

One to one support from the conductors and assistants enables children to have time to settle, such as, reading a book quietly. As a result, children soon settle after arrival.

Staff and children have wonderful relationships with each other.

The conductors increase children's understanding of their bodies very well. They talk to children about the sensations in their tummies. This increases children’s understanding of recognising their needs for food.

The conductors reinforce how water is good for their bodies and their brains, and encourage children to drink plenty to keep hydrated.

Children take part in a wide range of physical activities to enable them to increase their mobility, stamina and control over their bodies. Breathing exercises enable children to relax their muscles prior to physical activity. This also aids children's concentration and supports speech development.

Er, that's about it, folks. If I have missed anything of great significance, then you will find it for yourself by checking back through the complete inspection report. There is excellent interaction with parents  noted, again on the inspectors' terms. What you will not find is any mention of conduction, pedagogyor upbringing. There are no such boxes.

Only the very last paragraph of the report, which I quote below in full, gives any hint that there are conductive-pedagogic processes in train:

Children are developing excellent skills for the future in relation to their starting points. The conductors greatly encourage children at every opportunity to develop and increase their independent skills, for example, taking off their shoes and socks. Children learn to work together to help each other, such as, assisting each other in pulling off socks. This develops their awareness and understanding of other people's needs. Children listen well and demonstrate a good understanding of the routines, such as, positively responding to music, songs or sounds indicating a change in activity or tidy up time. A visual timetable provides information to children about the routine of the day and the conductors talk to the children at appropriate times about what happens next. The conductors manage children's behaviour calmly and consistently. The conductors provide an exceptional role model to children, for example, they fully acknowledge children's help and thank them for this. Children develop extremely good levels of self-esteem and confidence as the conductors frequently praise children warmly for their efforts and achievements.

Other than that, the inspectors could be describing how any nice nursery (anywhere, of whatever philosophical intent for any children) fits in with their own organisation's sterotypical way of thinking. Education.and childcare  for needy children in England are dusfunctional enopugh, not least in serving children and families such as attend Rainbow. It has come to a pretty pass when its very inspectors cannot see the pedagogic treasure in front of their eyes. Or perhaps they do see, but are not allowed to mention it. I do not know which is worse. Either way they are being shown a solution, though one wonders whether they and their organisation might not even know that there  are problems looking for them!

Again, congratulations to Magdi Kovacz and her colleagues for working the oracle here. But what a shame that their hard work and their talents could not be directed undistracted and unfettered to educational tasks defined and prioritised in accord with what they and the children's parents know, value and believe.

Reference

Ofsted (2010) The Rainbow Centre for Conductive Education. Inspection report for early years provision

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