It was his attempt to lay out what we see as some of the problems facing Early Years.
Whether it’s years of gross underfunding, a recruitment crisis, flip-flopping COVID guidance, or the schoolification of play, it all points to one ultimate problem: the lack of respect and understanding of the work that happens in the early years from both politicians and the wider public.
But still, shouting loudly about problems is easy. Offering solutions is the hard stuff. Even for a Duchess.
So ever since Anders wrote that, we’ve been thinking about how we can help provide some of those solutions.
We’re not arrogant enough to think that we can change it all – but we wanted to stop talking about it, and try to at least make a start.
Eventually, inspiration came from a slightly strange source. From an email about…a cleaning company.
Why we first thought about an Early Years Award
In September, we heard about this cleaning chemical company, Tennant, who were running an award to find their Janitor, or “Custodian of the year”. The winner would get a cash prize and have their story told publicly in order to celebrate their important work – along with all the rest of the nominees.
And we thought, if a company that sells cleaning supplies to schools can award a prize, then maybe we could too.
We realised it could:
Help us celebrate everyone who has done a wonderful job this year with positivity – we knew even a nomination from a team member or parent would mean a lot.
Give us an opportunity to make the case for more pay and respect by attaching meaningful prize money to the award.
Help us collect beautiful stories that we can tell to the wider public, about the sacrifice, selflessness and skill of those in Early Years.
Bring the sector together under one award – for childminders, practitioners in nurseries and preschools, after-school clubs – one Children’s Champion.
Ultimately help more people hear about Famly and the work we do – while doing something hopeful and positive for the sector.
So, we got to work.
How is the Famly Children’s Champion different?
We knew that without clear and obvious criteria for our winner – which in turn would drive the questions we ask – we wouldn’t be able to collect and tell the stories in the best way.
That our winner is a true Early Years Professional, always working hard to understand each child and using their Early Years toolkit to support them best.
That they understand how to work with their community, to be inclusive, and to work well with every child, no matter their background.
And that they constantly reflect and improve on their own practice, and help to develop and raise the work of others.
Here are a few other ways that we’re trying to do things differently:
One award for one sector – We want to bring together Early Years professionals of all kinds, and celebrate them together
Getting in a range of nominations – We’ve teamed up with amazing promotional partners and a diverse range of panellists to make sure that as many people from as many different places hear about the awards.
A serious cash prize – We’re giving away £5,000 to the winner – plus Famly Premium for a year to their setting, along with a very special trophy and a whole host of other prizes. We hope this represents the seriousness and dedication we should all expect from the very best Early Years Professional in the UK.
All nominees get informed – We think a nomination is a pretty special moment alone. So every nominee gets to hear they’ve been nominated and why, so they can celebrate their terrific work after this rough old year.
Parents are involved – We’re doing whatever we can to encourage nominations from parents, so that we go beyond the small bubble of our sector.
But Famly makes software. Why are you hosting an award?
Famly’s goal is to be your Early Years sidekick. Yes, we make and sell software that makes your life easier, but we’ve always tried to go beyond that too. In particular, that goes for this blog – which has over 300 articles, videos and guides to help spread good early years practice.
At the end of the day, we only exist because you do. No more Early Years sector, no more Famly.
And we know that it’s not easy out there right now. We’ve got thousands of providers using Famly every day, and that comes with a responsibility to at least try and solve some of the problems that you face — and ones we can’t just fix with our software.
We’d be lying to you if we didn’t also think these would also help more people hear about Famly and what we do. But rather than spending all of our marketing budget on adverts, we’d rather put that same money towards something that will have a positive impact too.
You can share our video ad celebrating Early Years professionals like you, and get more people to hear about the awards (here’s the Youtube link).
In February, we’ll be announcing our shortlist of ten finalists, and gathering some of the very best Early Years Experts in the UK to deliberate and decide on the winner. That’s when we’ll be doing everything we can to make sure those stories are told. Both here on our blog, and elsewhere – where people outside of the sector will see them too.
If you know anyone who can help us tell those stories to the wider public beyond early years (we’re thinking journalists, celebrities – maybe a member of royalty or two) please drop me an email at email@example.com.
Official Danish Government Reopening Advice
Guidance from the Danish Health Ministry, translated in full to English.