The Blog

The Big Reason Why We Need to Keep Calm and Carry on Amid Brexit

I've been speaking at the NDNA Annual Conference and of course the burning question is: "What will our exit from the European Union mean for early years policy?"

Just over a year ago, at the time of the general election, the future of childcare policy was up in the air. Here we are again and much sooner than expected.

The possibilities of another general election or at least a radically different government are very real.

But equally, the outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron has said that they will continue delivering manifesto pledges and we can expect the momentum of 30 hours free childcare and the pilots to continue.

Current EU trade, regulatory and migration rules will continue to apply at least until Britain's exit deal is completed over the next two years. Substantial government time in Westminster, Holyrood and Cardiff will be spent negotiating this.

Meanwhile, childcare policy can be expected broadly to continue in the current vein. In that most British of styles, we are keeping calm and carrying on.

Of course, it won't be as simple as this. Aspects of final proposals on, for example, free entitlement expansion programmes or Tax-free Childcare are likely to be influenced by the Conservatives' new leadership and cabinet ministers.

And with a small Commons majority, there is a risk that thorny issues like a new schools funding formula for England that we've come so far to reform could be put on hold or delayed.

We were pleased, however, that the Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah still has GCSE requirements on his radar. Speaking at our conference, he acknowledged concerns and promised to review the options.

He talked about the need for both the right quality workforce and the right numbers of people in the workforce, particularly with 30 hours on the horizon. This is good news - and now the sector will be keen to hear a more detailed timescale of when this will happen.

Meanwhile, in the middle of developments - political debate, more free hours, arguing whether it's an economic advantage to get more parents working - it could be easy to lose sight of the big reason why we're doing all this.

That reason is the child.

The child is at the centre of everything we are working towards.

The strong case NDNA has made for policy focused on what is best for children - fairer funding, more support for our workforce, reduced red tape and better regulation - has gained momentum and we've secured pledges for reform.

We are determined to see these pledges realised.

NDNA, as the main voice of the sector, will continue to analyse the emerging political situation, respond to changes, and keep the sector informed and involved.

In these challenging times, it is more important than ever that we work together across early years provision to support children and families to flourish.

The only real constant here is the high quality care that the sector delivers.

In the midst of Brexit and political party wranglings, a significant news story got a little lost the other day - that record numbers of nurseries in England are now rated good and outstanding. The figure stands at a fantastic 90%.

That's despite the underfunding and the ever-growing business pressures at play.

But the sector still wants to grow and learn, and do better. That's what people who work in early years are like. They are passionate and committed.

So at our conference, we launched the NDNA Quality Vision for nurseries.

Quality, of course, means different things to different people. But we've been consulting our members and resident experts to find its essence and distil it.

We'll talk more about our Quality Vision over the next few months.

We will as a yardstick to make sure everything we do and everything we campaign for is in line with the big reason we're here.

That reason? The child.