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Uprising about the early years foundation stage becoming legislation. Take the chance to investigate and respond.

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by debbiehep, Nov 30, 2007.

  1. Here is another interesting thought:

    Are there any people now active in this campaign who directly advised the government re the early years in the first place?

    I wouldn't be the least surprised if a number of Open Eye campaigners/supporters include people who contributed to the bureaucratic turmoil and the prescription for how we should set up our settings and monitor our children!
  2. Visitingauthor said, "this really isn't about how we teach children to read. It's about whether the EYFS legislation is appropriate."

    From The Times, Friday November 30:
    The founders of the Open Eye campaign, launched in this paper today by a group of child-development experts, share these concerns.
    "An early 'head start' in literacy is now known to precipitate unforeseen difficulties later on," they say. A far better approach, they argue, is to allow children to develop through play and practical experience, until they are ready for book learning at 6 or 7 ? the practice in many other countries.

    The two issues ? whether the EYFS legislation is appropriate and how we teach children to read ? clearly are mixed up together for the 'experts' who spoke to the Times.
  3. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    Does this uprising have concerns about the eprofile... that piece of nonsense that is not connected to the national curriculum in any way, but which is being used to monitor children's supposed progress .... now being used, as we knew it would, to bash early years teachers with targets and data for improvement.......to create the concept of the average child (for heaven's sake, average!!! at four) and to allow local authorities to make statistics out of childhood..... and the tighrope we walk to make sure our eprofile date matches a) the school's later progress and b) what is expected within our geographical area....which is being upstaged anyway by Durham University PIPS assessment which are supposed to link to later progress, and the advice given by NAA re early years ignored and laughed at not least by Intensifies Support Programme......

    Debbie, teachers like us can teach young children synthetic phonics but I do often wonder if we are doing it too young for SOME of our children..... that arbitrariness of development which actually is described in the EYFS as phase whatever and that damage is done to some children ( I can certainly think of some children I have taught who would have been better approaching phonics in year one or even two....... not knocking synthetics but the pressure to teach littlies to read so they can die under the dreariness of the rest of the National Curriculum....
  4. Can't keep away from this thread! Must go to bed, but had to say - Lizanne:

    "The two issues ? whether the EYFS legislation is appropriate and how we teach children to read ? clearly are mixed up together for the 'experts' who spoke to the Times."

    No, the pertinent question is not 'how' but 'when', as the quote you picked out shows. You'll note the words 'book learning' are the journalist's choice. Please don't get these issues mixed up.

    I don't know what Richard House's views on synthetic phonics are - apart from the fact that along with ANY form of reading tuition, they're inappropriate for pre-school children - but Sue Palmer is also involved with Open EYE, and if you look at her website you'll see that she is a supporter of the synthetic phonics approach. So, PLEASE can we stop confusing the two issues?

    Must dash!
  5. And again. My wife will kill me.

    "What is the Open Eye position regarding the Foundation Stage Profile system?"

    From the open letter:
    "Research increasingly suggests that prescriptive intrusion by government into education has not improved standards to any marked extent... Young children?s needs in particular are substantially compromised by an ?audit and accountability? ideology. Caring for babies and toddlers is profoundly personal... A ?one-size-fits-all? framework, necessitating copious record-keeping, risks substituting bureaucracy for care."

    I think this can fairly be translated as "The foundation stage profile is a bad idea." Open EYE would be in favour of this being downgraded to guideline status.

    "I wouldn't be the least surprised if a number of Open Eye campaigners/supporters include people who contributed to the bureaucratic turmoil and the prescription for how we should set up our settings and monitor our children!"

    I would. If you're following the debate on The Times Letters Page, you may note that everyone who so far has written in support of the EYFS has been either in government or a government early years advisor. To the best of my knowledge, no-one involved in the Open EYE campaign has helped to contribute to the audit culture, and if any of them has, they're probably now feeling very very foolish.

    I hope that helps, Debbie. As to why your petition didn't get more press attention - well, I'm sorry it didn't; but I guess that's how politics and journalism work. Open EYE got the attention because it was able to attract signatories such as Tim Brighouse, Sue Palmer and Penelope Leach. To be honest, if you'd got Jade Goody and Posh Spice to sign it, it would have got more press interest; as it is, the signatures of a million dedicated and hard-working early years teachers probably - and incredibly sadly - count for a lot less in the eyes of the media.
  6. I don't think it damages children but I do think we should take the pressure off in reception as to pace (including pressure off the teachers) and I do think it might be better getting more systematic in year one and year two.

    You could consider that starting in reception gives both teachers and learners a good long 'run-up' for learning to read and write.

    I think we need such a radical overhaul of pre-school and primary school (and secondary school) that I hardly know where to start.

    Training for synthetic phonics, for example, should be in the teaching principles before training is focused on specific programmes.

    And we need to open up proper conversations amongst practitioners, parents, teacher-trainers and - everyone regarding all aspects of education at all stages.

    We purport to be a society and country which respects individual differences and individual learning but when it boils down to it, we don't see this.

    The government and advisers try to tie everyone down to someone else's view of the education - the view of the 'experts'. I don't think that the state should control pre-school education and I think that the state should support schools but not put the fear of constant policing and Judgement upon them.

    You can understand that teachers and schools must be professional and accountable - but we have a system of judgement and no respect, no two-way feedback and no upwards accountability (as I frequently mention), no right to reply to public Ofsted reporting.

    How can we respect those in authority when we appeal for discussions and get dismissed out of hand?

    Are these 'experts' of the Open Eye campaign going to achieve the political discussions which we asked for through our early years petition? Are we going to be included in those discussions? Are discussions taking place even as we speak?

    Do these experts and authors have more experience and authority in the educational and care domain than us? When I say 'us', I refer to the people who are at the playdough face day in and day out - often jumping through whatever is the latest hoop and many of the old hoops as well as we try to assimilate what is 'in' and what is 'out'.

    I am past all this. I can't be doing with it.

    I just crave simplicity and humanity. These children that we have in our care are generally delightful and we need to be left alone to build up our relationships with them and teach and care for them accordingly.

    If we are never to be trusted and our common sense respected - then what kind of society do we have?

  7. "So, PLEASE can we stop confusing the two issues?"

    (anonymous) visitingauthor - bless you for being interested in this thread - that is good to see.

    But don't you appreciate that it is not us that has caused the confusion about these two issues - it is the statements that have been made in articles and Open Letters published by the media and written by major players in the Open Eye campaign.

    I might also add that as much as I understand how the media works by maintaining (or even 'creating') an interest in issues to do with people with 'names' - the fact that this IS the case, doesn't mean that we can't question and challenge that this is the case - shame on the media.

    We have suspected a distinct bias against synthetic phonics by various TES editors over the years - and I, for one, deplore journalism that is shallow, uninformed and feeds off names to make headlines.

    It will be a sad day indeed when we can no longer be bothered to challenge those things I observe which are not 'fair play'.

    The bottom line is that the Open Eye articles and letters already need explanation and clarity and include falsities.

    Statements have been made by leading figures which are a direct attack on synthetic phonics in particular - with untruths. It is untrue, for example, that this approach to teaching damages children in the long term.

    You cannot wriggle out of this untruth.

    People have fought for decades - centuries infact - just to get common sense phonics teaching of reading into our infant schools.

    It is not a small thing to us that all these weighty 'names' have collaborated in a campaign which in its opening statements attack synthetic phonics.

    And we synthetic phonics proponents have fought our long and hard battles (and continue to do so) because of our love and care and concern for young children.

    Without doubt we need to challenge the carrying-on and dictats from governments and local authorities.

    But you cannot open the can of worms of associating the campaign as being particularly about 'literacy' and 'synthetic phonics' and then try to deny that this has happened.

    This is nothing but bizarre.
  8. "Training for synthetic phonics, for example, should be in the teaching principles before training is focused on specific programmes."

    I think this is so true, Debbie.

    I have attended LEA training recently with two support staff, as the course was designed for all practitoners from all settings.

    I am finding that they have gone away, with what I call the "bright idea approach", because it was a whistle stop 2hours of Letters and Sounds with very little understanding of the pedagogy.

    I can't help but feel that in some daycare settings, where there is no teacher to model or lead, that inexperienced staff might subject the children to formal phonics before it is appropriate.

    I think that this very much connnected with Inky's comment that there is an assumption that irrespective of professional training that all practitioners will have the skill to deliver a common curriculum.

    Clearly, staff in different settings have different expertise and this is not unrelated to their budget;it is not all about pedagogy.
  9. Sue Palmer advocates mixed methods and real books 'at all stages' -the following is from her website:

    'Research findings indicate that different children have different ways of processing written language, and what works for many will not necessarily be suitable for all. There is also strong evidence that children are best helped by different strategies at different stages in development. Unless a variety of approaches is available, it is likely that many children will fail to achieve basic literacy'

    'It is of great importance that children at all stages read and learn from what have become known as ?real books? (both fiction and non-fiction)'

  10. Debbie, forgive me for rushing this reply and not addressing all your points - I'm packing to go away for a couple of days.

    I just wanted to say:

    1. As a former teacher myself I share your concern that teachers are not respected by those in power

    2. Whatever the views of individuals involved in Open EYE, the campaign itself has nothing to say about synthetic phonics per se - only that the government should not be forcing teachers to teach pre-school-age children to read, by any method. I've just re-read the open letter and can't see any reference to synthetic phonics. There is clear evidence, however, that starting children on academic learning too early can cause long-term damage, and this is what is being referred to.

    3. It would make no sense to include an attack on synthetic phonics in an attack on the EYFS, as, while the learning goals make it clear that children should be taught using a phonics approach, no particular phonics approach is legislated for. It's quite likely that many of the carers & minders who will have to deliver the EYFS will have had no training in any phonics teaching and will have to make it up as they go along based on vague memories of their own schooling.

    4. The stated aims of Open EYE are to have the government (a) commission an independent review of the EYFS and (b) downgrade the EYFS [specifically the learning & development requirements] to guidelines. Whatever your reservations about individuals, I hope you can support these aims.
  11. My apologies, Susan - clearly I didn't look hard enough at Sue's website.

    However, the point stands that this is NOT about synthetic phonics. It's not about reading METHODS at all - just age-appropriateness.
  12. visitingauthor - I am pleased that you are continuing to contribute to this thread and appreciate you may not respond if you are going away soon.

    I would like to think that you are involved with this campaign in such a manner that you can convey the worries and the ambiguities of the leading literature to those leading the Open Eye campaign.

    In some ways the Open Eye campaign could lead to a forwards move in the early years domain. I, and many others, do agree about the need for the EYFS remaining at guidance level and, further, the Foundation Stage Profiles being reduced to optional!

    It is about time that more people entered into genuine debate about the regime and expectations in the early years. WE NEED A TOTALLY DIFFERENT CLIMATE - ONE OF RESPECT AND COMMUNICATION.

    In any event, perhaps this government's role as top dog is on limited time. I have become quite disaffected with several aspects of our parliamentary system since having been involved with the reading debate.

    One, that politicians can purport to 'listen' when they don't really have the time of day or inclination to do so.

    That when politicians and others in high authority DO agree to meet, that this can turn out to be nothing more than a few minutes 'lip service' with no issues responded to and accounted for.

    That when politicians and people in authority are clearly found wanting or mistaken, that there is no sense of admission and transparent action and discussion to move things forward.

    That even when advances in a challenge are made, that there are so many departments or other people in high authority that the results are still based on compromise and diplomacy.

    That there is a tendency for no 'authorship' of goverment of local authority 'guidance' to be able to discuss the efficacy.

    That even when one's point is totally valid, the matter of official 'authority' wins over the matter of making the correct observation. THERE ARE NO MECHANSISMS TO HOLD ANYONE TO ACCOUNT IN AUTHORITY OVER US.

    And your point about 'names' being noted by the media (and politicians) is a damning one for the transparency of the media and the political system.

    What's in a 'name'? Everything it would seem.

  13. Thank you for that ref. Susan. I was ready to bristle at the idea that the idea of 'toxic' childhood was to be demolished - but this is a very thoughtful and thought-provoking article.
  14. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    Just a reminder that
    our early years petition which was delivered to a local MP and thus to the education person whose name escapes me, generating a dismissive and curt letter..... it also generated a consultation from the education up high about what I as a practitioner thought important in early years education... I had forget this, indeed at the time I was a little frightened, but we made a stand and should continue to do and to back Open eye wherever it meets humanity and sense....... consequences of the petition include our Advisory now asking not to stand around observing children and making post it notes but to use our judgement of them.......

    And when will get an apology for being enslaved to both Phonics in Progression and Playing with Sounds, both withdrawn, glossy folder mountain in the bin, and no mention anywhere of the misguidance they gave us, the training we all endured for them etc etc....and most teachers fought the literacy strategy as a bad idea too.......Letters and Sounds was well overdue, teachers knew it, but were ignored
  15. As things stand, I could not back Open Eye per se.

    I believe that being anti synthetic phonics is distinctly on the agenda despite protests from a few people on this thread.

    It's not just about backing a campaign at face value - what is the 'face value'?

    I can back the call for the EYFS not being made statutory in 2008.

    But we could lead our own campaign for this whilst expressing our approval of synthetic phonics teaching being underway by key stage one.

  16. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    "102 | Posted by: NellyFUF at 04 Dec 2007 23:02
    Does this uprising have concerns about the eprofile... that piece of nonsense that is not connected to the national curriculum in any way, but which is being used to monitor children's supposed progress .... "

    Short answer is YES!

    The campaign "condemns" the fact that Early Years is becoming an audit culture.
  17. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    post 115 which is exactly the reason I could not put my name to the TES on line petition. I think they are two separate issues and should not be confused.
  18. Msz - I wish, I wish, they were separate issues then I'd have no trouble in backing Open Eye up to the hilt (and beyond if there were such a thing). You only have to look at what Richard House has said, his loathing for phonics/systematic teaching of any kind. House's actions echo exactly that of the Education Establishment which has thrown 20% of children to the wolves for 40+ years - the detritus of our society.

    How many of the Education Establishment has given a toss, or any analytic thought, about how to teach 20%+ of struggling readers? We know that middle-class children seek out private tuition for their 'failing' children - and that includes children with IQs of 140+, and Steiner and other middle-class parents who read daily to their children. Only today I read the following on a US forum:'It's strange to have such a struggling learning in a house that could double for a library.' But it suits the Education Establishment to deny systematic teaching in the Alphabetic Code. We have tried (particularly in the 70s/80s) a post-Plowden regime. Lovely though parts of it were, it left an yawning cavity - those unable to access secondary education.

    If anyone can tell me how we teach virtually all children to read, apart from via a systematic phonics regime, and if anyone can point me to a single Educationalist who is promoting a way of teaching struggling readers how to read - I'd love to hear.
  19. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Sorry I still see the concept of a statutory curriculum for babies as something totally separate from the debate over reading methods.

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