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Policies essay
“The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six.” – Maria Montessori. This essay will be discussing the factors that impact on the childs outcomes. this essay will be looking at three factors in a broad sence across the OECD and discussing how each contributes to quality in Early childhood education and care. These factors include the amount and quality of parental leave greanted to parents by the governments, the cost and quality of the childcare provided in the country and the impat that has on the parents aswell as the student- teacher ratios that are in place in each of the countries and the impact this has on the ability of the childs learning. In relation to all of those factors this essay will be looking at each topic in detail regarding Norway and Sweden and how they are working to improve the quality in the early childhood care and education settings. one of the key Organisations supporting the quality of early years education supplied to children is the OECD. The oecd consists of thirty five of the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia , Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israël, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and The United States (oecd.org) The OECDs aim is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social wellbeing of people around the world.
Parental Role:
Parents play a vital role in the development of their child in the first year of their life, this is valued by most countries in the OECD that are striving to keep up with top leaders of paid parental leave such as the Nordic countries, the UK and Ireland, however , in some of countries across the OECD such as the United States there is no legal amount of parental or maternity leave, this means that parents are going to be less inclined to take time off to bond and get to know their children. This can put both finiancial and mental strains on families who are trying to raise a family, this can force mothers to go back to work just 6 weeks after their babys are born, placing them into full time care settings. Gender equality is something that is only now in the twenty first century coming to light in terms of parental leave. Countires such as the two this essay is focusing on (Norway ans Sweden) had implemented a certain timeframe for fathers soley to take paid leave off in order to spend quality time with their new families aswell as sharing the workload of looking after a young family and allowing the mother of his children the opportunity to keep progressing in her career while knowing that financial support is still available from the father of her child(ren).
In sweeden maternity leave consists of 480 days of maternity leave for each child the parents have, If you have twins you get 660 days of maternity leave and if you have triplets you are entitled to 840 days. This parental leave is also given to parents adopting a baby aswell as having their own. Both parents are encouraged to share the maternity leave (90 weeks) where they will be paid at 80% of their working salary for 72 weeks of maternity leave. After 72 weeks the remainder of the time is paid at minimum wage. This is a legal right granted by the Swedish government to all working employees. Parents can use this maternity benefit at any time until their child turns eight. During the 480 days of maternity leave given to parents, three months are reserved for each parent. Fathers however have their leave on a use it or lose it basis. In Sweden, mothers are obliged to take two weeks off during the 14 week period between seven weeks prior and seven weeks after childbirth; Sweden is known as one of the best countries in the world to be a father I for the amount of support both parents get in equally raising their children and going against gender steriotypes. Stay at home dads are becoming more and more popular in Sweden thatnks to their family friendly and gender inclusive policis.
the engagement of families in Sweden is vital to thir children attending preschool education. The engagement of famililies in the Swedish preschools can take many different forms. during the period of time just after the birth of their child both parents are given the option of linking with family resource centres In these settings, families are given the support specific to them needed in their parenting roles. Familes and their interests and concerns are considered throughout the programmes of the preschool settings and preschool classes. Families are encouraged by the preschools in which their children attend to work in close co–operation with the staff woeking in the setting. Parents are invited to partake in helping out in the preschools and accompining the children and preschool workers on trips and visits. Parents are invited to a semiannual conference with the teachers who are working with their children on a daily basis regarding their development. Parents are also encouraged at the transition period of starting preschool to go to the preschool with their children for a two week basis in order to make the transition less strressfull on both the parents and the child. Obviously the engagement of every set of parents is different, swedish preschools try their upmost to ensure that they are flexable to the different requirements of different parents. (http://www.oecd.org/education/school/1915207.pdf)
In Norway however parents can only receive 46 weeks paid leave at 100 or 80 percent of their salary before taking parental leave. Up to 14 weeks of this leave can be taken excusivly by the father. This leave can be split up into shorter splints of time and doesn’t need to be taken consecutively. In Norway, three weeks before and six weeks following childbirth of parental leave are reserved for mothers. (Parental leave, childcare and gender equality in the Nordic countries)

The cost of Early Years Education on the parent:
According to (Startstrong, 2011) Education is being viewed by economists as investment in human capital. It is estimated that for every €1 spent on high quality Early Childhood Education and Care there is a benefit of €7. A strong economy relies on the publics skills, creativity, motivation and knowledge. Investment in young children has high economic and social returns, because its impact on people’s skills and dispositions lasts a lifetime. (startstrong.ie)
In Sweden the maximum monthly fee is capped to PPS 108 , this includes hot mels for the children every day. From 3 years old, children are entitled to a minimum 525 hours of ECEC free of charge per year by law. This ensures that monthly fees for a full-time place are proportionally lower than for under 3s. (Early Childhood Education and Care Systems in Europe – National Information Sheets – 2014/15).
In Norway Parents pay a monthly fee, this is capped by the government, for their child’s place in the local kindergarten . The maximum fee is decided annually by the Parliament in the annual national budget. In 2012, parent fees have been set at NOK 2,330 (£252) per month and NOK 25,630 (£2,769) per year. (http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2013/03/4564/9)
Parents of children in sweden only play 6% of their net income on Early Childhood Education and in Norway they only pay 8% as apposed to the UK where parent fork out a minimum of 33% of their net income.
Funding for the Early Years:
Investment in Swedish education has shown to have been steady over the past ten years. government expenditure on education including Early yesrs education, in 2015 was among the highest in the EU, as a proportion both of GDP (6.5 %) and of total general government expenditure (13 %). (https://ec.europa.eu/education/sites/education/files/monitor2017-se_en.pdf). ECEC is well developed and Highley regarded as one of the top countries for early years education and care in the OECD there is a high coverage of ECCE settings across Sweden with 93% of 3-year-olds attending some kind of ECEC programme comparing this to the OECD average of 69% . (http://www.oecd.org/education/Education-Policy-Outlook-Country-Profile-Sweden.pdf)

Early childhood education in Norway is jointly financed by the government, the local people in the area and parents. Contributions from companies are not common, but do occur. all early childhood settings and institutions receive state subsidies from the government in norway. The only requirement is authorisation according to the Child Care Institution Act, which is fairly easily acquired. Institutions therefore have every reason to seek such authorisation. The state subsidies are determined based on the number of children in a family, the age of the children, and the number of hours the child spens in day care each week. The government grants are the same for publicly and privately owned settings. (https://www.oecd.org/education/skills-beyond-school/1917465.pdf)
Norways investment in the education of their youth is above the OECD average. educational expenditure at all levels was 7.6% of the GDP in 2010, comparing this to the OECD average of 6.3% Norway is ranking high up there in the top educational investors in the OECD. When taking into account public subsidies to households, public spending on education represented a larger proportion of the GDP (8.8%) than the average in OECD countries (5.8%). As in most OECD countries, Norway has a large portion of expenditure on educational institutions is from public sources: 84.6% at the pre-primary level (compared to the 2010 OECD average of 82.1%)
Preschool and primary school education is funded by county and municipal budgets. Funding for early childhood education and care and for primary and lower secondary education is channelled through a block grant to municipalities. This grant is based on the size of the population of an area and other factors such as the socio-economic background of each individual child. Parents pay a maximum fee for kindergarten only (between 15.8% and 22.5% of total costs in 2011, depending on whether the kindergarten is public or private). Private kindergartens (50% of all kindergartens) are also financed by the state through the block grants to municipalities. The share of private primary and lower secondary schools reached about 3% in 2010. (http://www.oecd.org/norway/EDUCATION%20POLICY%20OUTLOOK%20NORWAY_EN.pdf)

Student teacher ratios:

Funding for student, early years pratitioners:
Pre–school teachers in sweeden are called förskollärare. To become a förskollärare students must complete a three–year university level course thai course combines on site field and theory practice. This course and training is free of charge to the students. The government of Sweden also provide low repayment loans for students in order to help them out with living costs and general college expenses. These courses focus on child and their development, family sociology, and teaching methods. After graduating the three year course, förskollärare may be employed in pre–schools, open pre–schools, or pre–school classes. (http://www.oecd.org/education/school/1915207.pdf)

Conclusion:

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