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Coming out re the Foundation Stage Profile

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by debbiehep, Feb 27, 2007.

  1. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Debbie, my flesh is tingling at what I've just read. My courage is limited to being considered a moaner over certain matters such as evidencing [horrible word] and the revoltingly completist, semi-literate wording of the SSs. I have to make sure that my scepticism isn't just seen as age-related unwillness to embrace change. I spread subversion wherever I can [we've just had a brilliant PGCE student who has gone out into the world aware that the evidncing regime is a crock] but I should so more.

    I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter. I lost my 18-yr-old son ten years ago, suddenly, from congenital heart disease. Pain beyond imagining.
  2. Cheers PiggySue... will be doing just that next year.
    Could not do it this year due to hard-drive disaster and since this is only my second report writing year i will have to do it the long way.

    Good god! what a story... there is something for us all to take away from that previous extract...
    Have 2 daughters of 19 and 14 and cannot imagine the pain you must still suffer. You are obviously strong and feel that the worst that can happen already has.
    I applaud the resolve and determination to stand up for what you believe in.

    Okay then.. can't sleep so here's my first problem...
    Remember i'm not EY trained, but have read extensively... Our 2 rec classes are from this year working as one unit with 2 registering areas... with the normal cont prov and spacious environment that i learned about on the recent course. We are feeling our way and i am pushing to move from topics that dictate what the children do, to themes with a fall-back plan, which can be dropped if the ch get inspired and go off at a tangent...
    Do you feel that this is the right approach? It seems logical to me that the ch will be more focussed in the activity if they instigate it, or is the concensus more in favour of teacher deciding what will happen with rigid time frames to get everyone to paint a leaf for autumn, if they want to or not? I have met with resistance during the trasition and feel that we should follow the evidence-based research which advocates the new approach.
  3. If you leave children to do 'what they initiate', what about those children who will resort only to what they know or ...nothing much?

    There are children who would drift aimlessly if we did not give them specific direction and teach them specific skills.

    Your provision may also be influenced by the context of your setting. What do the children need? Are they articulate? Do they know the English language? Are they showing knowledge and skills from home?

    If they are, the chances are the parents expect you to educate and care for the children commensurate to what they, as parents, would provide for the children at home.

    If their home environment is lacking in developing the child's full potential, then there is a case for the setting to make up for the shortfall and be very pro-active in teaching a wide spread of skills etc.

    For every argument there is a counter argument.

    We all understand that play is important and that children will benefit from 'free play' and 'structured play'.

    But does everyone fully understand the importance of putting in knowledge and skills - even HOW TO play in some instances?

    Most of us probably believe there is a place for direct instruction, a place for structured play and a place for free play.

    But many of us also feel that the pendulum has swung too much in the 'child-initiated' as being all things to all children when, actually, the poor teachers and practitioners are looking over their shoulders in fear as to whether their version of 'child-initiated' would satisfy the advisers who coined the phrase in the first place. Are the children driving the form of provision or the advisers?

    The discussions taking place on this forum often remind me of 'how long is a piece of string'. In other words, a bit futile and a bit lacking in common sense and confidence.

    I know of many parents who are adamant that they want their reception children 'taught' things and that they don't send the children to settings to float freely round the room and 'outside' to 'do play' alone.

    I know many children who choose very school-like activities (that is, traditional writing, drawing, cutting and sticking type activities) when given 'free choice'.

    I know many children who are not much more than little lost souls when given freedom and who repeat the same inane 'dog-crawls-round-floor-barking' activity day in and day out. I'm sorry but I'm not entirely sure what deep thing this indicates - a lack of a creative imagination or a very creative imagination? Hum....

    But one thing is for sure, spending time with a clip board in hand watching whatever activities children choose to evidence the profiles is the most inane activity of all.
  4. It's a minfield.... and i take onboard your comments and admit that we have a few ch that will gladly float off to the playground at every opportunity. Two things though..
    1. Since introducing a free-flow environment the number of incidents in classrooms has reduced dramatically (and i am in a very very deprived area).

    2. I did plan a shape, space and colour theme with free choice for all (including some adult led activities). We did have almost all of the ch knowing the 5 big ideas that were targeted each week. Almost all were on task for 2 weeks, with most of the activities born of their own creativity. It was good and we never knew which way we were going tomorrow. It was exciting and all agreed that it was a success.

    Furthermore, if the research is being quoted that justifies child-initiated play... how can we go against it? I am still confused, but desperate to know what to do for the best.

  5. I think the problem is that the research is bring used selectively by advisor to justify an almost exclusive child initated approach. In actual fact, the research evidence identifies an almost equal mix of adult directed and child initiated activities as the most successful. The further empahasis on high level linguistic exchanges between adults and children as a feature of successful provision also indicates the need for adults to be consisdered as enhancements to areas of continuous provision.

    However, I have yet to meet a practitioner in a setting who will tell you that this is what the Early Years Advisors have told him/her!
  6. ofcourseyoucan, could you point me inthe direction of the research you have mentioned. It sounds well worth a read.
  7. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    Eppe Speel EXE google 'em (research)

    These back the principalled (can't spell this ) approach of the short and to the point Foundation Curriculum

    unlike the education system which expects us to do such without the adults necessary to provide structured adult supported free flow play, and effective structured adult initiated teaching.

    Just balance the plates and keep on spinning!

    Just read the new framework planning guidance for reception, and have to say, I am non the wiser for reading it. My new colleague got quite upset. She kept saying what do you do in the first term? Where are traditional stories? (All the time is the answer to that of course).
  8. after the LA advisor suggested we take out 'topics' - we were very unsure - but over the year have tried it, and now for next year will take out the 'topic' approach. We found that once the children were given the option to develop ideas/- sort of mini topics through their own interests -the fact that they could see that we were interested and would include their ideas and develop from them, the more the children have instigated their own ideas. We then got to a stage where the staff were 'doing' one topic and the children another - or even groups of children doing more than one other - we felt we were just making more work for ourselves - carrying on with a topic that the children had lost interest in - just because we had spent time planning it - but also supporting the children in their topics. Planning can now focus on the learning required - 'next steps' - which can be developed through the children's interests -through which themes won't matter
  9. ofcourseyoucan, we are trialling this 'theme' approach next year and calculate that we have a near 50/50 child-led and adult-led situation. But, the adult-led is comprised of the circle times, PE, music...etc.
    Our first tentative trial for 2 weeks was very good and i keep reminding myself that it is not the theme itself that is important, it is the skills and concepts that they are developing. Therefore, i think we could lift a readymade theme from a good book (to cut down on teacher planning time) and not feel you have wasted your time if it goes off at a tangent. Then, there are readymade activities for those who do not initiate... and freedom for the rest... Everybody happy!
    Also, i keep wandering if fully child-initiated theme choosing is representative of the groups views and desires... or is it just the loud ones always getting what they want?
  10. Debbie, I don't post often over here, but when I do I thank my lucky stars for you!
    Thank you.
  11. As stated the research is the EPPE and SPEEL stuff. You can find it all on the EYFS website under the resource index link - takes a bit of scrolling and scanning but it's there. You can access the full research papers as well as the briefs for these and other interesting things.

    (if you struggle mail - ofcourseyoucan@fsmail.net - me and I will send you them as an attachment)

    Fascinates me though how this research is being applied!

    How about this for a thought on individualised/personalised learning? Taking where the child is 'at' as their strating point and planing to develop their skills concepts and knowledge, using their interests as strategies. How does that sit for indivudlaised learning? This can then be applied through the adult directed/child initiated model do you think?
  12. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Sounds like targets to me. What if the child only wants to play Growl Smash Killer with the big plastic wild animals? What if the child is only ever playing sister in the kitchen? What about if child races round like a maniac on a trike?

  13. I have had copies of letters from Beverley Hughes and Alan Johnson and I have been asked to forward them on to those people who have supported the early years petition. I am going to ask the online TES team if they will kindly publish them on the petition blog. Meanwhile, I have sent this reply to be forwarded to Beverley Hughes. I am not dismayed by the ministers' refusal to meet with representatives of the TES petition because I never expected anything different! And we must go on describing our experiences, negative and positive to provide a record of the 'realities' for early years teachers, practitioners and children!

    "Thank you very much for the letters that you have forwarded to me from Beverley Hughes and Alan Johnson. I shall do my best to pass on this information to the people who have supported the TES petition.

    I did not expect anything else other than a refusal to meet with representatives of the TES petition because so much time, effort and money has been invested in the current bureaucracy and politicians seem so very distant from ordinary people who raise concerns.

    I have to repeat, however, that the advent of the Foundation Stage Profiles along with the statutory expectation that local authority advisers will enter schools and monitor teachers' evidence for the profiles along with the very prescriptive guidance of the current influential early years advisers has, quite frankly, created a 'monster' which ministers clearly choose to disregard.

    The role that many local authority advisers play in modern times is very worrying because some of them are more 'inspectorial' than the Ofsted inspectors themselves.

    Would Beverley Hughes, for example, think it acceptable for a local authority moderator to look at an individual teacher's Foundation Stage Profiles for a total of four hours as described on the TES early years forum recently? An Ofsted inspector would have completed a substantial percentage of a whole school inspection in this amount of time. Not only that, many teachers report that these advisers do not necessarily have any interest in looking in on the children or looking at the provision - far from it, they are only interested in scrutinising every last 'post-it' which repeats some 'pearl' that some child has said or done to provide evidence for the specific points in the foundation stage profiles.

    The notion that teachers need to write down all their observations to inform the profile is not the same thing at all as observing children generally and informing their next steps. Someone, somewhere needs to properly investigate the way in which teachers and early years practitioners spend a huge percentage of their time with clipboards in hand which is simply not a natural, or necessary, part of a teacher's duty. This is a consequence of national guidance and local authority interpretation of it.

    I am desperately, desperately sorry that ministers do not fully understand, or will not acknowledge, just how unacceptably burdensome the profiles have become - along with the advice - along with the scrutiny which early years teachers and practitioners have to endure.

    There may well have been wide consultation in the creation of current documents but something has gone very badly wrong for so many people to be so desperately burdened and to feel so frequently stressed and demoralised.

    I do not feel represented by this government and I suspect many other people feel exactly the same way. I continue to suggest that burdensome bureaucracy is not the best way to provide for the under fives or their carers.

    I would be extremely grateful if you could pass this message on to Beverley Hughes.

    Yours sincerely,

    Debbie Hepplewhite"
  14. Debbie - thanks for this immense amount of work. I wonder if Lord Adonis and Nick Gibb have been involved and whether its worth publicising through political blobs/media feed-back facilities?

    This has nothing to do with the well-being of little children,in my book, and everything to do with status-chasing. This is a bureaucratic monster that's creating so much burn-out and unless the message gets out there, it can only get worse me thinks.
  15. Debbiehep,
    Just to let you know that it is not all bad news. I spoke this week with my Head and raised the concerns of your debate. She listened and said that i can ignore the needless paperwork and to collect the relevant data to inform planning and progression, the rest we can forget! Great! There is reason out there.
    I keep thinking about the scrapbook idea floated earlier in the thread, which could serve as a good home/sch link and give something concrete to discuss on a regular basis. Parents coming in and discussing pictures of their ch learning, with relevant comments in real-time. Could be interesting and a way to get some of them involved.

    Keep it up... this is the most informative writing that i have come across in ages! You'd never make a politician talking this much sense!
  16. "I keep thinking about the scrapbook idea floated earlier in the thread, which could serve as a good home/sch link and give something concrete to discuss on a regular basis. Parents coming in and discussing pictures of their ch learning, with relevant comments in real-time."

    This would be so much more valuable to real people than the formality of evidencing the Foundation Stage Profiles. It could also be a joy to create especially if snapshots of activities and achievements were 'whatever happened' rather than based around the government's version of what advisers and politicians think ought to happen.

    Your headteacher should receive the award of 'common sense and humanity'.

  17. the scrap book idea with lots of photgraphs and snippets - about their 'real' child - not tick lists involving the curriculum, is how we have approached it - and it has been so far a success - still time consuming - we do identify a 'next step' so parents can be involved and add info or comments - 'next step' informs planning for the individual (eyfs) - so saving time on planning - informs parents regularly - we have found the need for parents meetings - 'seeing every parent for 15 mins every term' has lessened - children are proud of their books - can add to it, talk about it, share it - parents can see how the children learn through play - that there child is happy and has 'friends'( isn't that what most parents want to know anyway)we use it for moderation,we use it for transition to the yr 1 class -the children take their book(A3 size) with them when visiting the next class teacher and share it with him/her. We also feel it is valued - parents and children love sharing it - and we let them know that once the yr1 teacher has finished with it this 'treasure' will be returned to them 'for keeps!

    Because we feel it is valued - we enjoy keeping it up to date and i is really easy to print off the photo's using the photo wizard. We were inspired intially by a child minder who told us she keeps a 'scrapbook' for all of the children in her care - one little girl moved away after 5 years with her - but 3 year later returned to visit - bringing along the treasure of a scrap book - to share her memories with the childminder, of the tiem they spent together. She said is was so well thumbed - she was so pleased that it had become something really special to this child.
  18. Maybe we should all make a concerted effort to do the scrapbook and simply fill in the Foundation Stage Profiles at the end of the year without worrying about the moderators and advisers!

    Maybe it could 'catch on' and we could all keep such an idea high profile and tell anyone else in early years settings what we are doing.

    The government gets its profiles completed and we all just ignore the moderators and advisers.
  19. I'm definately going to give it a go next year!

    Okay, I've been to bed... got back up (hyper, now the reports are in and need the next thing to stress about!)

    Head Teacher has given me something to think about... we are in a deprived area and she has a grant from somewhere of £1000 to use for some kind of parents welcome or scheme to get the new parents involved. Any ideas?
  20. Well done. At last someone has had the confidence and guts to speak up. It is us (the teachers) that know best how the children at our particular settings learn best, not beaurocrats who sit in offices!! Each school is different and should therefore be treated differently. Ok, have something to work with - but use it to best suit you. As for the paperwork - I thought it was best to teach the children in a fun way and give them all of our time. Not for us to keep writing about the children (forever making notes!!) and then gather all the evidence and spend ages ticking off in the new Foundation packs!! I will say that some of the ideas are good, eg. observation ideas and forms, but PLEASE let us use the paperwork as a guide only, and run our schools properly which is by spending more time with the children (NOT LESS) and let us get back to our teaching!!!!! We ae not STUPID!!!!


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