Memorandum from Smokefree London (EYF17)
I apologise for the late submission of this
note for the Education Sub-Committee's evidence session with the
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Employment and Equal
Opportunities tomorrow morning.
It concerns the decision to allow childminders
to smoke in the presence of the children in their care with parental
consent. The Sub-Committee has already expressed concern about
this proposal. There is one aspect of the issue which has received
little attention which Sub-Committee members might wish to question
the Minister about; that of whether the parents are giving informed
The level of public awareness that passive smoking
causes cot death and ear infections has significantly decreased
in recent years, according to the latest ONS survey on "Smoking
Related Behaviour and Attitudes, 1999".
Table 4\3: Views on whether or not passive
smoking increases a child's risk of certain medical conditions,
|Does not increase the risk of cot death
|Does not increase the risk of ear infection
Furthermore, smokers are significantly more likely than non-smokers
to underestimate the impact of passive smoking on children's health.
It is reasonable to suggest that the only parents who will
give consent to their childminders to smoke in the presence of
their children will be smokers themselves (so no respite for the
children concerned). They are the least likely to be informed
of the risks passive smoking poses to their children's health.
If the DfEE cannot be persuaded to drop this proposal in
spite of the Sub-Committee's recommendation and the many submissions
(ours is attached for information) urging they do so, might they
accept the need to:
(a) Require OFSTED to monitor the extent to which smoking
actually occurs in childminders' homes.
(b) Require those childminders who seek consent to smoke
to first provide parents with a factsheet about the impact of
passive smoking on babies and children as part of the consent
Submission by SmokeFree London to the Consultation
on National Standards for the Regulation of Day Care and Childminding
The current proposed wording for Standard 7.14 is: "The
childminder and others in the childminder's home do not smoke
in the presence of children unless otherwise agreed between parents
SmokeFree London proposes that Standard 7.14 should be amended
as follows: "The childminder and others in the childminder's
home do not smoke in the presence of children."
As it stands, the proposed wording gives cause for concern
for four main reasons:
Smoking by childminders in the presence of children
seriously affects the health and development of an unknown number
of very young children.
Allowing this practice to continue will certainly
undermine the Government's efforts to reduce smoking amongst young
It does not appear to conform to the principles
of the Children Act 1989.
It is inconsistent with Government policy to reduce
1. THE IMPACT
1.1 A major review by the Government-appointed Scientific
Committee on Tobacco and Health in 1998 concluded that passive
smoking is a cause of respiratory disease, cot death, middle ear
disease and asthmatic attacks in children.
1.2 Further studies have shown that some of the immediate
effects of passive smoking on children include eye irritation,
headache, cough, sore throat, dizziness and nausea.
1.3 Long-term effects include a reduction in lung function
and increased severity in the symptoms of asthma in children.
1.4 Passive smoking also increases the risk of children
contracting lower respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis,
pneumonia and bronchiolitis.
1.5 More than 17,000 children under the age of five are
admitted to hospital every year because of the effects of passive
1.6 Childhood respiratory illnesses caused by passive
smoking may also contribute to the development of respiratory
disease in adult life among non-smokers.
2. CHILDMINDERS ARE
2.1 Parents and childminders are role models for the
young and are a main source of primary socialisation. Their influence
is very strong, particularly in the pre-school phase of a child's
2.2 It has been shown that a significant reduction in
the number of children taking up smoking will only occur when
smoking among adult role models is considerably reduced.
2.3 Studies have also shown that children are almost
three times as likely to be regular smokers if both their parents
smoke than if neither did.
2.4 A childminder is a figure of authority in a child's
life (similar to a teacher), thus a childminder smoking legitimises
the habit and endorses its acceptability as an adult activity
for the child.
3. THIS PROPOSAL
3.1 The Children Act 1989, Part I, 5 states: "A
person who (a) does not have parental responsibility for a particular
child; but (b) has care of the child, may (subject to the provisions
of this Act) do what is reasonable in all the circumstances of
the case for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the child's
welfare." Given the known detrimental health effects of passive
smoking on children, allowing a childminder to smoke could be
interpreted as directly contravening the above regulation.
3.2 Furthermore, Part X, 71(2) states: "a person
acts as a childminder if . . . he looks after one or more children
under the age of eight, for reward". This definition allows
the registering authority to register a childminder for suitability
to undertake the care of any child under eight, not specific named
children. One parent may give consent to a childminder smoking
while the parents of other children in the childminder's care
may not have given consent.
4. WORKPLACE SMOKING
4.1 The greatest progress in restrictions on smoking
has been made at the workplace. As the risks of exposure to other
people's smoke have become better known, there has been an increasing
demand among non-smokers to work in a smokefree environment.
4.2 Smokers also agree with restrictions being implemented:
in 1987, 81 per cent of smokers agreed that people who do not
smoke should have the right to work in air free from tobacco smoke.
4.3 When a childminder is taking care of children s/he
is at work. Therefore a child in a childminder's care should be
afforded the same rights as a non-smoking work colleague and be
entitled to breathe clean, smokefree air.
Memorandum from the National Union of Teachers (EYF
THE RESPONSE OF THE NATIONAL UNION OF TEACHERS TO THE
EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT SELECT COMMITTEE REPORT OF THE INQUIRY
INTO EARLY YEARS EDUCATION
1. The National Union of Teachers welcomed the above
report which was published in January 2001 and the majority of
the recommendations made by the Education and Employment Committee.
The fact that the Select Committee agreed with a number of the
recommendations made by the NUT in its submission to this parliamentary
inquiry into "Aspects of Early Years Education" was
2. The NUT's response focuses on the summary of recommendations
published as a numbered list at the back of the Select Committee
report rather than the main detail of the report. The rationale
being that policy makers and the media are more likely to focus
on this list.
3. As stated above the NUT welcomes the majority of recommendations.
The NUT's criticisms of the report mainly focus on the significant
omission of references to issues concerning equality of access
and social inclusion.
4. The NUT is concerned about the lack of reference to
access to high quality provision for all children including those
with Special Educational Needs or with disabilities.
5. Similarly there is scant reference amongst the report's
recommendations to the important future role of improved policy
in order to ensure access to high quality early years services
for children and families from disadvantaged areas.
6. In its submission to the Select Committee the NUT
stated "Any curriculum for young children should aim to
challenge negative attitudes and stereotypes and help children
begin to challenge racist and other discriminatory attitudes for
themselves. All children must feel equally "at home"
if they are to have equal opportunities to learn and pursue their
interests." The NUT is disappointed and seriously concerned
that none of the Select Committee recommendations refer to the
need to challenge, via an appropriate curriculum and relevant
awareness training, racist and discriminatory attitudes in young
children, as well as the staff that work with them.
7. The NUT also believes that in certain areas the Select
Committee should have been more precise in its language. For instance
recommendations refer to "adult:child" ratios without
reference to the training and qualification of the adult.
8. A few of the recommendations could have benefited
from further expansion or clarification as they may not be easily
understood by those who have not read the full report.
9. The NUT welcomes recommendations 7 and 8 (paragraphs
27 and 28 of main report). In its response to the DfEE consultation
on the proposed national standards for daycare services for children
under eight the NUT stated:
"The standards are intended to ensure safe, high-quality
care for all children and yet childminders are allowed to smoke
around the children in their care if the parents agree. The NUT
believes that any standards should encourage children's good health
and that it would be irresponsible and potentially dangerous for
a childminder to smoke in the presence of the children in their
In addition to the potential dangers of passive smoking
and the increased risk of fire the DfEE should consider the appropriateness
of adult behaviour that may be modelled by young children.
The standards are intended to ensure safe, high-quality care
for all children and yet it is proposed to allow children cared
for by childminders to be smacked if prior parental permission
is obtained. The NUT believes any form of corporal punishment
to be unacceptable."
10. While the NUT would welcome the reduction in group/class
size as suggested in the recommendation number 13 "the adult:child
ratio should be no more than 15:1 in Reception and Year 1"
(paragraph 44) it regrets the lack of emphasis within this recommendation
on the qualifications and training of the "adult". The
NUT would have preferred that the Select Committee had recommended
a ratio of 2:30 where half the staff are qualified teachers and
half qualified nursery nurses (or equivalent).
11. The NUT would argue similarly with regard to recommendation
number 14 which refers to "fifteen or fewer children for
each member of staff" (paragraph 51).
12. It is presumed that recommendation 16 (paragraph
53) refers to initial teacher training. Yet, currently Higher
Education Institutions and Teacher Training Colleges offer 3 to
8 courses rather than "Key Stage 1 courses". The NUT
has always been concerned about specialist early years courses
which do not allow for a sound knowledge and understanding of
the National Curriculum and an awareness of the importance of
progression and continuity between stages for children. Initial
teacher training courses that concentrate solely on the Foundation
Stage may hamper the potential professional development/ career
opportunities for teachers and may exacerbate the issues concerning
the recruitment of men into the early years, thus contradicting
the Select Committee's own recommendations regarding professional
development and recruitment and retention (numbers 34 to 43).
There is always a danger that such courses may eventually "hive
off" the Foundation Stage from the rest of primary education.
13. Conversely the NUT believes it is equally import
for Key Stage 1 and 2 teachers to have a sound knowledge and understanding
of the Foundation Stage curriculum, child development theory and
the way in which young children learn.
14. The NUT would, in particular, endorse recommendation
number 20 which recommends that the "compulsory age of
school entry should remain at the term after the child's fifth
birthday; and the Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage
should be fully implemented in primary schools to ensure that
children receive the style of education appropriate to their stage
of development" (paragraph 60). The substantial research
evidence which highlights the detrimental effects of "too
formal, too soon" cannot be denied. Scientific and educational
research has shown that child development does not easily fit
with institutional systems reliant on age or academic terms. Yet,
by focusing on whether to increase the age of entry to compulsory
schooling, there is a risk that the more serious questions about
how to best meet the learning needs of young children are avoided.
Such a quick-fix solution should not be seen as the panacea to
raising the quality of experience for children. In fact, there
is a grave danger that any proposal to raise the compulsory school
age from five to six could be seen as an opportunity to reduce
investment in early-years education.
15. In its response to the QCA consultation the NUT has
argued that baseline assessment should be moved to the start of
Year 1 in preference to the end of the Foundation Stage. The Select
Committee in recommendation number 21 (paragraph 63) has done
16. If a single national "baseline" scheme
were to eventually be introduced it may be preferable for it to
be conducted at the beginning of Year 1, as a "baseline"
measure of children's learning potential on entry to the National
Curriculum. If conducted at the start of a school year these assessments
would be more likely to inform the planning process of the year
ahead, rather than at the end of a year when prior attainment
on entry to Year 1 would be the focus. If the assessments were
conducted at the beginning of Year 1 this would be more likely
to encourage liaison between the teachers involved and their colleagues
in reception classes. A national baseline assessment scheme cannot
allow a reliable or valid "measure of value-added during
Key Stage 1" unless it gives a true measure of a particular
starting point, in this case the child's entry to the National
17. The Select Committee recommendation number 27 that
"every setting that is inspected by OFSTED should have such
areas available to the children" (paragraph 87) is welcome.
The meaning of "such areas", however, is unclear unless
the detail of the report is referred to. The summary recommendation
needs to specifically refer to "outdoor play areas"
for further clarification.
18. The NUT also welcomes recommendation number 28 (paragraph
88) - there is a particular need for additional funding to schools
to provide safe outdoor play areas for Reception (and Year 1)
19. The NUT is concerned about the language used and
intention behind recommendation 30. The Select Committee state
"We recommend that as a long term vision the DfEE should
foster the creation and development of a ladder of training for
Early Years practitioners which could lead to a graduate qualification
equivalent to that of qualified teachers" (paragraph
97). The NUT has been consistent in its welcome of increased access
to training, qualifications and career progression for early years
workers as long as teaching remains a graduate profession and
there is no dilution of the standards required for Qualified Teacher
Status. The NUT is concerned, however, about the Select Committee's
use of the term "early years practitioners" and the
previous reference in paragraph 96 to "pedagogues" in
20. In paragraph 96 the Select Committee states "The
`pedagogues' are members of a well-regarded and highly respected
profession, which is almost on a par with qualified teachers in
terms of pay". The point is "pedagogues" are not
paid the same as teachers. The long-term implications of such
a qualification is a dilution in investment into the early years
and the Foundation Stage being "hived off" from the
rest of primary education.
21. The NUT welcomes recommendation number 31 (paragraph
99) regarding the involvement of a qualified teacher in every
early years setting. In its submission the NUT stated "The
Select Committee should recommend that the next round of plans
by Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships should be
required to show how, over time, all provision designated and
funded as education for three and four year olds will be taught
by a qualified teacher. Government investment should increase
incrementally to allow that target to be met."
22. The Select Committee recommend that "Early
Years Development and Childcare Partnerships should publish surveys
of the typical rates of pay in their area for different categories
of practitioners" (recommendation number 32, paragraph
100) and that the Government and Partnerships should "adopt
an objective of ensuring equitable pay and conditions for all
categories of practitioners across all settings" (recommendation
number 32, paragraph 101). As a trade union these recommendations
are of course welcome, as long as there is a recognition of the
relative value of qualifications and training.
23. The NUT welcomes the recommendations as numbered
34 to 43 regarding recruitment and training.
24. In addition the NUT appreciate recommendations 44,
45, 46, & 47 which refer to OFSTED and the regulation and
inspection of early years provision. These recommendations reflect
the NUT's submissions to the Select Committee Inquiry into the
"Work of OFSTED".
25. The Select Committee recommend (number 52) that the
"increased Government investment in early education and
care should be sustained over a long-term period" (paragraph
149). In particular the NUT is concerned about LEA maintained
nursery schools. In its submission it stated "the threat
to free-standing nursery schools is perhaps the most obvious manifestation
of the inadequacy of current levels of funding for three and four
year olds. But it is also indicative of the short-termism that
can prevail when political targets appear to drive the expansion
and development of services rather than the needs of the community
to be served".
26. The Select Committee report highlights an overall
concern about the quality of early years education. The National
Union of Teachers shares this concern and believes that only a
high quality educational experience for young children will bring
genuine benefits. It hopes that the next Government will be committed
to making proper sustained investment in high quality early years
education. It is not enough to simply expand the number of "education"
or "care" places for young children. Any expansion and
development must be based on the concept of high quality.
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