So what were the most important developments and reports in the childcare / education sectors in 2011? If you missed any, read on to find out...

Probably the most significant event of the year was the publication in March of the Tickell Review of the Early Years Foundation Stage, which has implications for all early years practitioners. Among the report's many points were recommendations to cut the number of Early Learning Goals from 69 to 17, and a change in focus to three 'prime' areas of learning. A simple guide to the proposals is available by clicking here.

Other major government projects included the publication in May of the Munro Review of Child Protection, which investigated procedures for safeguarding children and the role of social workers, and the Nutbrown Review, which is currently ongoing and is examining qualifications and career pathways in the foundation years - its final report is due next year. Those with an interest in special educational needs will have found the Support and Aspiration green paper which was published in March of great interest.

Annual reports from well known organisations are also a handy way of gauging current issues surrounding the sector. Some of the most useful ones from this year include the Childcare and Early Years Providers Survey, the Ofsted Annual Report, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion, and the State of Children's Rights in England 2011. For a more international flavour, try looking at the OECD's Education At A Glance 2011, or UNICEF's State of the World's Children 2011.

Picking out individual publications from the hundreds that come out every year is always difficult, but some of the ones that seem particularly relevant to readers of this site include the recent Family: Helping to Understand the Modern British Family, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies' Does When You Are Born Matter? which examines the claim that summer born children face an educational disadvantage. While Investing in High-Quality Early Childhood Education and Care is a brief report from the OECD which highlights evidence that points to the benefits of providing support for children from a young age.

And some other miscellaneous stuff... Teachers TV was axed this year, although its full archive is available for free from the Teachers Media site. The Digital Education Resource Archive (DERA) was launched, and provides full access to a growing number of educational reports published by government departments over the last 17 years. Poor Kids and Educating Essex were two TV programmes which dealt with different aspects of childhood, and are well worth watching if they get repeated in the future. And closer to home, one of the most popular posts on this site this year turned out to be one about children's songs... hardly 'academic', but quite interesting...

At the start of 2011, Nursery World published an article outlining professionals' hopes and fears for the childcare sector in 2011 - how far do you think these have been met? And what are the challenges for 2012? The Social Market Foundation's recent report The Parent Trap outlines some of the issues facing the sector over the next 5 years.

If I've missed anything, feel free to share it with other site users by leaving a comment underneath this post, otherwise that's your lot for this year. Get in the festive mood by enjoying the video below, in which veteran music legend Bob Dylan dances in a red hat and gets excited about his impending visit from Santa. Maybe he's just a big kid too...


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