Part Two – Personal response to Ofsted Early Years Report   1 comment

If you have not read part one – please take the time to do so.

In part two I am going to start to unpick   the statements in report and look in a bit more detail about these statements and give my personal opinion on them

So to start with –  the point that too many children starting school without the skills they need to be ready to learn.

In my opinion there are two aspects that contribute to this

1. Children start school too early – they are expected to sit still a lot of the time, they are in classes that are to large for such young children and the ‘curriculum’ and school timetable and routines are not appropriate for 4 and 5 year olds.

It horrifies me that government think the answer to this is to start formal learning even sooner and to constantly push for children to be ‘ready for school’.  When are the government going to realise that if children started school later – then children would be ready for school – I wonder if government education people have ever looked at a child development book or studied brain development.

Which brings me to the second reason why children are not ‘ready for school’

2. Children are not given time to be children, the curriculum in the EYFS although quoting appropriate statements about learning through play and the research behind it – actually leads some practitioners (and Ofsted Inspectors and LA advisers)  to think that children should be directed and given activities to do (as in the sit at a table type and circle time type) – all of the time.

If as a child you are not allowed to play, to set your own agenda and goals, to ask questions, to have time to think, time to experiment and learn through trail and error, to be physically active at times and do ‘nothing’ at other times – and if instead you are told it is circle time, it is story time, and worse – it is tidy up time – you are not going to have the skills needed to be ready for school.

It is quite likely that you have learnt how to switch off, how to gain attention by ‘making a fuss’ and to ask yourself ‘What is the point in trying, the point in asking, the point in even listening?’

I remember a well respected reception teacher at my local school saying to me many years ago ‘ Penny, here in school we always know if a child has been to your setting because they have the skills needed for a good start to school life – they can dress themselves, go to the toilet themselves, ask when they need help, they have manners, they know how to sit to eat a meal, they have experience in using a pencil, scissors and threading, they know how to play by themselves and with others, they are willing to have a go, and learn from their mistakes And of course they all can talk well and listen to adults’.

(Note this teacher did not say the children, could read, could write, could do mental and wrtiten maths, knew the countries of the world, understood all the worlds regions, could progamme a remote controlled robot or any of the other things it seems children ‘need’ to know by 5- sorry a bit exaggerated)

As my professional links have extended, I know many reception teachers and most, if not all of them would prefer a  class of children with those skills listed above rather than a child who has experienced the entire EYFS. The funny thing (well no it is not funny) is that the things the report mentions as children need to be able to do, are those from the three prime areas – and very much in line with the list above, so I have to question why does the EYFS have the four specific areas? In my opinion although these areas will of course be touched on during time at any early years setting – why are they insisted on and have targets (goals) set for them.

Lets go back to basics – lets get the foundations in place first – and think about the rest later – much later when the child is developmentally ready for it. Of course some children will be ready before 6 or even 5 to start building on their foundations – but that can also be achieved without sitting at a desk and without formal goals. Children who lead their own learning will achieve more than children who have the goals set by those they don’t know them as individuals – ie the government through a one size fits all list of goals.

Linking all this back to the Ofsted Early Years report and very negatively sounding wording about childminders. I wonder if anyone has actually got any data on the children who have attended childminder settings? – are they the children who are not doing well? Or is it the children from group setting,? or children who have not been to any setting? just the children from deprived areas? and just those from deprived areas that went to childminder settings?

In my opinion it is dangerous to link two pieces of data together without detailed analysis of that data and indeed the linking data that has maybe not yet been collected. The data on number of childminder settings without level 3 qualifications and the data on childminder settings with lower than good judgments  does not mean that all the children who attended those settings are the ones who are not doing well at end of foundation stage. The picture will without a doubt be far more complicated.

And I shall start to unpick this in part three as I examine other statements within the report.

Posted November 29, 2012 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

One response to “Part Two – Personal response to Ofsted Early Years Report

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  1. Totally agree Penny. My first reaction was that unless they universally link preschool experiences with the end of EYFS outcomes you simply can’t make claims of that nature.

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