Sunday, 17 January 2021
Dear Early Years friends,
I wanted to write to you to express the pride I feel to know you, to work alongside you, to stand with you, in such a fantastic, diverse, crucial but overlooked part of the education sector. The unwavering support you have shown to our children and their families in these strange times has been remarkable. Despite your concerns, you continue to work tirelessly to support them. Many of you are feeling increasingly anxious and overwhelmed, wondering how long you can keep going. There seem to be more and more plates to spin and balls to juggle. But always know you are not alone. We stand together and if you need to reach out- please do. There are so many friends ready to listen and offer a reassuring word whenever needed. Just look on Twitter or join Keeping Early Years Unique on Facebook to find us. We are there.
For those of you working in the PVI sector, I share your disgust, anger and frustration at how again you have been overlooked, whether it’s the expectation to open fully whilst school settings around you are closed to most children, the lack of testing and omission of the workforce in the vaccination programme or the lack of financial protection needed to keep your doors open. I am afraid I cannot offer vaccines, tests or financial support- but I can offer you my commitment and a promise that I will stand with you and keep shouting out your names very loudly. We are a sector united and cannot be divided.
As exhausted and frustrated as we feel right now, we must hold on to the power that we have and the power our actions can have. I ask you to join with me, take action and be a part of the change we need so desperately- not just for now- but also for the future. Sometimes we may wonder if we can be this change as we work in our classrooms, nurseries, church halls or our homes. Know that we can. To quote Ryunosuke Satoro: “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean”.
It was just 3 years ago that our open letter condemning the OFSTED Bold Beginnings report was published in the Guardian. So much of the mess that the EYs is in and especially the Reception year is down to this piece of fatally flawed “evidence”. A report whose agenda was, clear. More formal learning. More information learned from books and less play! We rallied the troops then and we must rally them again now.
Let’s get to work! Please join me in taking the following four actions today.
If you are still reading one word: Thank you.
Thank you for all you are doing in these dark days.
Thank you for standing with me, shoulder to shoulder to demand better.
Thank you for being you.
Don’t ever doubt yourself. You are enough. You are stronger than you know and our children are blessed to have you.
Please rest, recharge and be kind to yourself. This audio book is a great place to start. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000r630 It’s the beautiful “The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse. It’s perfect. I promise.
Sending you love and solidarity,
*Leave your messages of support to our EYs family in the comments boxes below*