Research

 

You will find a complete range of our monographs, muti-authored and edited works including peer-reviewed, original scholarly research across the social sciences and aligned disciplines. We publish long and short form research and you can browse the complete Bristol University Press and Policy Press archive of over 1,500 titles.

Policy Press also publishes policy reviews and polemic work which aim to challenge policy and practice in certain fields. These books have a practitioner in mind and are practical, accessible in style, as well as being academically sound and referenced.
 

Books: Research

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 351 items for :

  • Family Policy x
Clear All
Author:

Nurseries are for children, and ultimately their success must be judged by whether they are places where all children can thrive. Ideally a nursery should be able to offer supportive and stimulating environments for all children, whatever their circumstances. The chapter discusses the relevance of the theories of James Heckman, the Nobel prize-winning economist who argued that nurseries of any kind could be instrumental in changing outcomes for poor children. Unfortunately, despite recent government initiatives, prompted by Heckman’s theories, the poorest children, and those with special needs, are most likely to be excluded from private nurseries, although they do attend nursery education classes and schools. This chapter explores what happens to children with special needs whose parents are seeking a nursery place. It concludes that there is only a very weak conception of children’s rights informing government policies on nurseries, and young children do not get the justice to which they should be entitled.

Restricted access
Author:

England has a separate system, Ofsted (The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills), for inspecting and regulating nurseries, from the other constituent nations of the UK, and this system only collects English data, but the regulatory processes are roughly similar across the UK. However, the private sector does not differentiate between nations in the data it amasses but instead refers to UK trends. This chapter argues that Ofsted’s remit is woefully inadequate. This is partly a reflection of the so far irreconcilable divisions and standards of care and education, but also because Ofsted has made no allowances in its regulatory procedures for the private sector, which it does not even acknowledge as a category. Despite heavy levels of government subsidy to the private sector, Ofsted does not monitor anything to do with costs and fees and value for money, and has no remit to inspect the activities and financial arrangements of the growing offshore company sector. On a more minor level, there are conspicuous gaps in its monitoring of physical activity and environmental issues, which are discussed.

Restricted access
Author:

The UK performs poorly in international comparisons of childcare, despite government claims to the contrary. The most recent cross-national enquiry, in 2023, by the UNICEF Office of Research (Innocenti Centre), puts the UK 36th out of 41 rich countries. This chapter considers the methodologies that are used in cross-national enquiries, and the statistics that are available for comparison. The EU Eurydice datasets and OECD datasets are particularly useful for exploring the extensive range of issues within childcare, including income levels and ability to pay, as well as service standards and parental leave arrangements. The chapter highlights the inadequacy of the UK contribution to data collection, as well as the comparatively poor services.

Restricted access
Author:

This chapter provides background to the issues raised in the book. Who provides nurseries? Who uses them? Who can access them? Who works in them? Who checks whether they are doing a good job? Who pays? And crucially, how do they affect the children who do attend them? Are services really child-focused?

Restricted access
Author:

Increasing numbers of mothers of young children are in the workforce and face pressures to find and choose childcare. Young mothers are often ambivalent about leaving their young children and need to find ways of reconciling work and domestic life, such as family support, flexible working hours, better maternity and paternity benefits and parental leave, and nursery provision. There are considerable difficulties in choosing childcare and paying for childcare, and there is information asymmetry in a private market that makes choice especially difficult. For most children under 2 years old, marginal childcare workers (nannies, babysitters, au pairs, aunties, grandparents etc) are often used as a solution. Many of these marginal carers are migrant women.

Restricted access
Author:

Almost by default, in the absence of any kind of rethinking of services or new investment as a response to the increasing number of mothers of young children in the workforce, private owners have been encouraged to open nurseries. It has become accepted as a matter of fact that childcare is a business, and that, like every other business, it must make a profit to survive. This acceptance of treating children as a commodity item, which is unacceptable in most other countries, dominates provision in the UK. This chapter explores the casualness of policy decisions about private childcare and lists some of the drawbacks of private provision – high costs, uneven access, outsourcing, lack of accountability, and increasing market volatility as businesses open, shut, sell or merge without consultation with parents or staff. Increasingly, as mergers and acquisitions of nursery businesses have taken place, the childcare market has been bought out by big offshore or foreign-owned companies, who incur then exploit debt to avoid paying taxes.

Restricted access
Author:

The haphazard history of nursery education and care and the current ad hoc provision of private childcare in the UK means that there are many contradictory policy decisions, and, without coherent policies, it is almost impossible to establish cost parameters. This chapter discusses costing issues, such as state versus private subsidies, and supply-side as opposed to demand-led funding. It explores how money is creamed off by large financialized companies who are poorly regulated – as with water companies, for instance. The chapter argues for an overall cost commitment to cover early childhood education and care services and infrastructure, appropriate training and working conditions, monitoring and data collection, and continuous review of quality and outcomes (the OECD has suggested 1 per cent of GDP), and considers questions of distribution, disbursement and monitoring of finances at national and local levels.

Restricted access
Author:

The aims and delivery of nursery provision have changed considerably over the last 50 years, and have had a chequered history. Nursery and childcare provision in the UK has always been class-based, with one type of care for the elite (nannies and public schools) and welfare care in public day nurseries for the poor who couldn’t manage to bring up their children properly. School-based nursery education, a high-quality, free, state service, employing well-trained staff, albeit with part-time hours, gradually expanded, although it has been badly eroded over recent years and has not been allowed to respond to new pressures from working women. For a time, there were experiments with self-run community and co-operative nurseries to try to bridge the gap between care and education. Most recently, increased demands for childcare for working parents has been met by the growth of privately owned nurseries, some very upmarket, but essentially based on the same care standards and guidelines in terms of staffing, ratios and activities as the old welfare nurseries. The divisions between care and education have never been resolved.

Restricted access
We Do!
Author:

This book traces the history of nurseries in the UK, the types and levels of provision, the long-standing splits between welfare care and public education, and community-based attempts to improve the situation. It charts the shifts in public attitudes towards these various forms of childcare and argues that the privatization of childcare, as for many other privatized services, has been a profound mistake that has entrenched inequality and resulted in poor-quality, yet very costly, services for children.

The book recognizes the considerable difficulties in overhauling the way in which nursery education and care are delivered and paid for, but makes practical suggestions about the ways forward. These include more support for flexible state nursery education, a ban on the offshore privatized nursery companies that increasingly dominate nursery ownership, a substantial overhaul of Ofsted’s remit, and involvement of the many unqualified care workers at the fringes of nursery provision.

Restricted access
Author:

The nursery care/education split determines who works with young children. Staff who work in nursery education – nursery teachers and nursery nurses – are relatively well trained, have union-negotiated pay and conditions of service, and relatively generous benefits. Staff who work in private day nurseries have lower – and falling – levels of qualifications, poorer pay and conditions of service, and are not unionized. There is a critical recruitment and retention problem in private day nurseries, and heavy reliance on apprentices and minimally trained staff. Attempts to bridge the gap through training reforms have been proposed but have fallen into abeyance as they cannot be linked to a career structure in the private market.

Restricted access