Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The EYFS is hugely important

So much is happening in Education, it’s difficult to keep track of it all.

The public sector seems to be transforming and reducing at a pace which is very difficult to comprehend:the united vision for children, schools and family services no longer exists in a government department and cuts are being made everywhere. Children Centre's step increasingly into the picture and their vision is increasing and yet it seems that they cater for a smaller minority....it is not easy to see the full picture at this time.

The other major concern is the threat to childcare providers in all areas of the sector from the economic crisis and the impact of the single funding formula.

I've been reading the numerous articles about the proposed review of the EYFS and decided to record my thoughts that arise here in this blog entry.

I am interested to hear yours.

Yes, I think there are still some concerns about the EYFS and at the same time I absolutely agree with Miss Hughes when she says: "The EYFS is hugely important as a single framework for play-based early learning and care, based on the kind of support that helps children thrive in the early years. We have always said that we will keep the EYFS under review."

I am sure a review could be useful and at the same time I am concerned that the good work that has been done, could get undone!

My experience as a consultant in the sector is that the Early Years Foundation Stage has raised the quality of early years practice. Child centred enabling environments where children have choice and access to resources and routines which facilitate large groups, small groups and time for individual play is much more the norm now . The main difficulties I hear are around planning and assessment. Some practitioners have got bogged down with creating complex systems against EYFS guidance and they struggle to find the balance between focussing on learning outcomes, setting next steps and facilitating learning and development through the children’s interests.

This is mainly because of their often misguided anxiety about providing sufficient evidence for OFSTED.

Early years are a unique phase of life which is important in its own right, learning through the senses our brains develop at the most rapid pace, full of plasticity, being modified by the environment and expanded to fulfil its potential, which is pretty much set in intellectual structure by the age of 5 years. The EYFS provides a comprehensive framework for practitioners to support this rapidly developing time and it has placed play as central to children learning.

It has taken years to establish that play is central to learning and to understand that a child's need for safety and belonging must be met before they will explore and learn. The EYFS gives these messages.

I recently facilitated training at an inspirational event for the leaders and managers of Royal Borough Kensington and Chelsea and we were joined in the evening by Peter Dixon. Peter was our after dinner speaker and delivered a message that really does need to be heard NOW.

The Colour of My Dreams by Peter Dixon

I play, my world of make believe
I play it every day
and teachers stand and watch me
but don't know what to say.

They give me diagnostic tests,
they tryout reading schemes,
but none of them will ever know
the colour of my dreams.

I would highly recommend Peter's books published by Macmillan
The Colour of my Dreams and Let Me Be......

I also attended a workshop with Tina Bruce who reminded us all about the complex value of play. We enjoyed making camps and recalling our own experience of these activities through our early childhood: the value of playing together, negotiating, problem solving, applying first hand experiences. The feeling of competence, use of imagination and memories of how my interest, focus and concentration went on and on and was a pleasure to recall.

Tina highlighted features to assess the richness and complexity of play; these include:
Making up rules
Making props
Rehearsing the future
Playing alone and together
Being deeply involved
Trying out recent learning and more.........

I returned home and decided to provide materials in the garden for my grandson to build with and together for around three hours we played and constructed a camp at the top of the garden which stayed there for three weeks!

Supporting children's creative thinking through play and challenging them with materials, interactions and ideas lays firm foundations for their future education and for life its self.

During the past two years the investment by the Labour government in the Early Years sector has paid off and although there was still some debate about the content of the EYFS we were able to focus on training that emphasised how children learn and how this learning and development is facilitated. I hope that this review involves our new government in listening to practitioners views, hearing what we have to say and improving the EYFS on the basis of what they hear. In addition, I hope that the EYFS is extended to cover a longer phase of education, so that our youngest children in the UK, like many of our European partners, won't start formal schooling below the age of 6.

Last year I visited Sweden where older children are in the settings. I observed a more laid back attitude to attainment. Yes, I saw learning journey's and amazing examples of children's work clearly illustrating children's progress but mainly I witnessed a love of learning and real appreciation for this phase of life in it's own right and the value of play.

One teacher told me "our focus is on meeting each child's needs this is all"

Take a look at how Swedish children perform in the European league tables to see the results of starting formal education later!

In the Telepgarph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/6338700/Primary-review-start-formal-lessons-at-six.html

Dame Gillian Pugh is quoted: “If you introduce a child to too formal a curriculum before they are ready for it then you are not taking into account where children are in terms of their learning and their capacity to develop.”

She added that forcing four-year-olds to “sit quietly” often backfired as it turned them off reading at a young age.

“There is no research evidence that shows that early access to formal learning does children any good and quite a lot of good evidence to show that it actually can do some harm,” she said. “Countries where children start more formal learning at six or seven actually overtake us as the children get older.”

What do you think?

No comments:

Post a Comment