Head of the Office for Standards in Education in the U.K. has warned that parents are too busy to teach their children basic life skills- including going to the toilet.
Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of Ofsted, has warned that children are increasingly being potty trained at a later age, as parents struggle to train them in the short time-frame of the weekend.
Speaking at the Pre-School Learning Alliance conference yesterday, the head of the schools’ watchdog told nursery leaders that they need to take on a greater role in teaching children life-skills.
She continued to say the "more and more" children are starting primary school without adequate toilet training and "risk being teased" by their classmates.
“Without taking responsibility away from parents, if your child is in nursery every day, toilet training is not something you can do in two days over the weekend, and say boom, it is done," she explained to nursery and pre-school leaders.
“In practice it becomes something that’s got to be a bit of a cooperative exercise.”
While potty-training was traditionally the responsibility of the parents before the child entered education, Spielman notes that the increasing need for early childcare means that that may no longer be the case.
“Something that you used to be able to say was clearly, definitely, [done by] parents, and done before they got into education provision, now there’s a sort of blurring of who, what, when.”
Her warnings follow a report released last week stating that teachers spend over a million hours teaching children basic toilet training and hygiene. According to a study carried out by Essity, a health and hygiene company, a fifth of early years teachers spend up to 30 minutes a week cleaning up students after they have been to the toilet.
53% of teachers are concerned that time is taken out of class because of students having regular accidents. Moreover, 46% of children admitted struggling to concentrate due to avoiding the toilet when they need to go, whereas 44% of students avoid going to the toilet at least once a week and 11% avoid the bathroom everyday.
Kevin Starr, managing director at Essity, told The Independent that the findings will hopefully create an open dialogue between parents and teachers.
“Schools and local authorities are trying to do their best with limited budgets and resources. Spending more money isn't an option and we don't believe it's the answer either.
“Our aim in highlighting these issues is to open up a dialogue with schools, parents, health experts and local authorities and work with them, using the collective expertise and experience to identify simple and easily implementable solutions to tackle the issues, with little or no cost to schools.
”By doing this, we aim to improve health and well-being, reduce absenteeism and increase self-esteem and confidence of children in the UK.“
It's not just hygiene skills that many pre-school children are lacking, but also language skills appear to be declining.
Nursery teacher and owner of 16 years, Gary Jeffries told The Independent that parents spending excessive amounts of time on their phones contributed to the problem.
“I would say that not all parents value early years, and I don’t think the government values it enough,” he explained. He continued to add that many parents may need more support on early years education and diet and that some “may not know where to start with things like potty training”.
“I always say to my parents, if you haven’t got time to do anything at home, but have got time to do one thing, education-wise I always just say, read a bedtime story, read, read, read, talk to them, ask them questions, point things out when you’re in the supermarket, on a car journey,” he said.