The first and most important thing to say about “Cultural Capital” – the new Ofsted buzz word that has appeared in the September 2019 Inspection Handbook – is DON’T PANIC.
- You do not need to attend a training course on cultural capital.
- Ofsted does not want to see a poster up in your setting labelled cultural capital.
- You do not have to start taking childminded children to the opera.
Most of you will find that the only change you need to make to what you are already doing is to learn the new buzz word so that if you hear it during your inspection you keep calm and carry on!
Cultural capital is defined in the new framework as ‘the essential knowledge that children need to be educated citizens’ and what is necessary to ‘prepare them for future success’.
Some children arrive at your setting with different experiences than others. The experiences they arrive with are their ‘cultural capital’. All children have SOME cultural capital when they arrive with you at your setting. But for some, this cultural capital is not enough to narrow the gap and get them ready for school. The curriculum you plan for that unique child can make all the difference to his or her future.
Your job as a childminder is to find ways to establish what a child’s ‘weaknesses’ are, and then plan your curriculum to help the child in the area that he is missing or behind.
A key example is talking. Some children arrive at your setting speaking really well with great vocabularies because they are exposed to lots of words and their parents read loads of books to them at home. Research has shown time and again that this gives them a massive advantage in school and in life. Other children come from much less fortunate backgrounds where they are not read to so much at home and know far fewer words. If you identify talking and vocabulary for example, as a child’s weakness, then your job as his childminder is to find ways to enhance it. In other words, you should make sure to plan a curriculum where you read a lot more and talk a lot more to children whose parents do not read to them at home.
The same rule applies right across the areas of learning and development and would also apply to the characteristics of effective learning.
Another example Ofsted gave during its webinar was a child who knows everything about dinosaurs, but nothing about plants. In this case, you could enhance his learning by teaching him about plants.
A characteristic of effective learning example might be a child who is never given any choices at home and who appears to passively take everything he is given. You can enhance his learning and prepare him for school by encouraging him to make choices while he is with you.
None of this is anything you are probably not already doing!
It just has a new name and is now in the Inspection Handbook to draw your attention to the sheer importance of doing the utterly obvious!
Here is what you need to do to ‘do’ cultural capital:
- Do starting points observations on all new children across all the learning and development areas and the COEL. This will show you the child’s strengths and areas of weaknesses.
- Ask yourself what you would do to improve the child’s area of weakness.
- Make a plan for each individual child. What can you develop? What can you encourage?
- Follow through on your plans.
- After you’ve been doing your plans for a while, check that your plans are having an effect. Has the child started to catch up? Have you broadened his cultural capital from when he started with you?
All children arrive in your setting with a different background and different skills.
Ofsted’s new buzz word is just another way of asking childminders to help to reduce disadvantage when you see it.
Remember that what you do for that child can potentially make all the difference.
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About Kay Woods and Kids To Go
Kay Woods has been writing and selling childminding resources through her company Kids To Go since 2008. Her products include the Ultimate Childminding Checklist, the Learning Journey Plus for planning, observation and assessment and best practice resources promoting diversity, safety and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare). She is the author of the Start Learning book set published by Tarquin and she writes the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter.
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