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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. Having read the Open Eye documentation, and not really knowing exactly what the preferred reading methods are of all the supporters, I think that their objections are based on the EYFS being made statutory, and the early introduction of formal literacy in whatever form that might take. We are using synthetic phonics in Reception and a lot of the children are picking it up and seem to be enjoying it, however I do wonder whether they wouldn't be better off with more write dance, more stories read to them, more shared and role play writing etc. Would they really be so badly off if they didnt start phonics and reading and writing more formally until year 1?
  2. Visitingauthor said, "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," and that "There is clear evidence, however, that starting children on academic learning too early can cause long-term damage."

    Why is any form of reading tuition inappropriate for pre-school children and what is the evidence that it can cause long-term damage?

    One summer term I taught a group of children in a reception class that had been using Jolly Phonics. The children in the group had been chosen because, although they had no major difficulties, they remembered fewer letter-sounds than the rest of the class and couldn't blend or segment confidently. I spent some time with them in the school library every day for a term practising those skills. One little boy, Joseph, used to sit on the carpet, pick up fluff, find things to play with, look away at the slightest distraction and occasionally do a roly-poly. I also heard an adult say to him when he kicked a cupboard as we walked by, "We don't want naughty little boys like you in our class." You get the picture. Also, he couldn't blend sounds to read words at all.

    As most of you know, synthetic phonics through Jolly Phonics can be fun for small children. It's child-friendly, multisensory and interactive. I am certain that all the children enjoyed the lessons. At the end of the term, I assessed the children by giving them words, phrases and sentences on laminated cards to read independently and then to draw pictures to show they understood. Joseph hid behind a pillar, so I couldn't see him, but I could hear him. He kept repeating, "f ... r ... o... g". Then suddenly he shouted (in the library), "I got it! I got it!" and ran up to me, jumping up and down. I asked him what it was. He said, "frog! frog!" He had cracked the code and was on the road to reading.

    Imagine if I had decided he wasn't ready for learning to read, that 'academic' teaching would harm him and that he should be left to play and learn only through imitation and discovery. I don't believe he would have been better off. By the age of seven, unless you've lived an isolated existence, you are going to have been faced with text. Without systematic phonics teaching, I think Joseph would have resorted to guessing words, as the only strategy he could manage to try to cope. And guessing doesn't work, unless you are the sort of child who can teach yourself, and I don't think he was. Guessing also becomes a habit that is difficult to break. I know, because of all the older children I have taught who habitually guessed and struggled to read. I think it unlikely that Joseph would ever learn to read without direct systematic teaching. I believe he would have ended up as one of the 20% of children whose self-esteem sinks and sinks as they get older, because they don't get it and nobody laid the foundations when they were young and eager to learn.

    Written English is very complex. That's a reason to start early, not a reason to delay. Some children find phonics difficult. That's a reason to get them going young. Of course young children should not be put under pressure to learn to read. Of course the methods should be age appropriate. But I do not agree that all direct teaching is unsuitable for small children. In fact I think it is very unnatural to suggest that adults should not teach small children directly sometimes.

    By the way, I am 100% against "prescriptive intrusion by government into education" and "copious record-keeping, risks substituting bureaucracy for care".
  3. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    I think I agree. The paper-driven prescriptiveness re everything else is making me want to get out of EY as soon as possible. Apparently it's been noted that I've been 'very vocal' in the staffroom about my opposition to endless obs. I'm in bad odour with my managers because I question the time spent hiding behind a clipboard.

  4. Post #27 Msz

    ?OPEN EYE? has the express aim of reversing what it views as the worst features of the new legislation

    Post #106 debbiehep
    "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 followed the Early Years Petition, on the TES blog, with great interest earlier this year, and I continue to read, regularly, anecdotes on the early years forum, detailing the pressures under which individual teachers find themselves, as a result of formal planning and target setting, accountability and the tick box culture that currently plagues those teaching in an early years setting.

    Consequently, I can understand, appreciate and support many of the concerns expressed by OPEN EYE.

    However, despite what others have said, there HAVE been specific, inaccurate, and negative references to Synthetic Phonics made by some of those involved in the campaign.

    While these views may not be expressed in the open letter, they have been expressed in the media and as are a result the two issues have been publicly entwined and in quite an emotive way.

    I have already commented on one such specific and negative comment by Dr. Richard House


    Supposing Einstein had been subjected to a system of synthetic phonics, what would have happened to the theory of relativity??

    Here is another example:


    ?A letter signed by the group, and seen by The Times, is highly critical of the Government?s drive to make children aged 3 and 4 write simple sentences using punctuation, interpret phonic methods to read complex words and use mathematical ideas to solve practical problems.?

    ?Margaret Edgington, a leading independent early-years consultant, said: ?We are going to end up with lots of children who can read and decode print but who haven?t got the skills to understand what the words mean.?

    Had I read this, as a parent of a young child, (and not as a teacher who has used SP with great results,) I would be very concerned.

    However while I would have concerns about ?the needs of young children arguably being substantially compromised by EYFS?s emphasis on accountability procedures, and their accompanying ?audit culture? mentality, inducing needless anxiety and, at worst, a major compromising of children?s innate enthusiasm for learning;? this may be slightly abstract and require further investigation.
    I think I would be far more likely to focus on and object to my lyoung child being subjected to something as concrete, specific, age inappropriate and regimented as the view of early SP instruction as outlined above.

    However, the reality is that phase 1 of ?Letters and Sounds?, which is the phase that is planned primarily for children aged 3 and 4, does not, in fact, involve any formal decoding work (or punctuation or reading of complex words) at all and that explicit teaching of the alphabetic code only begins in stage 2?

    In fact, as letters are not formally introduced in Phase 1, it is not ?phonics? at all as phonics involves the relationship between letters and sounds.


    ?Phase One activities are arranged under the following seven aspects.
    Aspect 1: General sound discrimination ? environmental sounds
    Aspect 2: General sound discrimination ? instrumental sounds
    Aspect 3: General sound discrimination ? body percussion
    Aspect 4: Rhythm and rhyme
    Aspect 5: Alliteration
    Aspect 6: Voice sounds
    Aspect 7: Oral blending and segmenting
    While there is considerable overlap between these aspects, the overarching aim is for
    children to experience regular, planned opportunities to listen carefully and talk extensively about what they hear, see and do. The boundaries between each strand are flexible and not fixed: practitioners should plan to integrate the activities according to the developing abilities and interests of the children in the setting.
    Each aspect is divided into three strands.
    Tuning into sounds (auditory discrimination)
    Listening and remembering sounds (auditory memory and sequencing)
    Talking about sounds (developing vocabulary and language comprehension).?

    Children do, of course, need good vocabularies to comprehend what they read, however in the early years at school this is not a problem as their listening vocabulary, even among disadvantaged children, is in advance of most of what they will read and so even when they begin formal alphabetic code , and blending and segmenting instruction, the words the children will be enabled and required to decode will be primarily those used in day to day speech and so there is little chance that ?We are going to end up with lots of children who can read and decode print but who haven?t got the skills to understand what the words mean.?

    I have concerns that the various issues are unclear and need to be made transparent.

    And so I agree with debbieheps comment in post #49

    ?I have every sympathy with Richard's concerns and can understand them. But he is mixing too many issues here. The issue of the EYFS not becoming statutory is one that I have huge sympathy with and agree.

    But at the heart of the articles and letters I have read thus far from the Open Eye campaign is the mention of synthetic phonics with the implication that this is damaging for learners in the long run. This just won't do and it is just not true. This is a totally separate issue - part of the Reading Wars if you like - and as such should not be mixed with the issue of the EYFS tick-box culture.?

  5. It won't take long before the same managers and others will decide to join in the criticism of the formal observations and tick box culture once the Open Eye campaign gets going.

    No doubt it will become the 'in thing' to sign up to it.

    Let's watch with interest as to who changes their tune!

    If only everyone would apply their common sense and humanity in the first place.

    I have always said that we are our own worst enemy. If everyone refused to 'comply' with these ridiculous regimes, what could those advisers and inspectors really do.

    I do wish that more people would give some time to think more deeply about these things 1) before writing them in the first place; and 2) before complying.

    If people don't want to support these dreadful regimes, they could stop doing that immediately without waiting for anyone's 'permission' to do so.

    By all means we need to continue to challenge the government's actions and advise, but the bottom line is that we just don't do it anyway.

  6. Does anyone remember their history lessons at primary school?

    I am going way back (after all - I am a grandmother!").

    But I remember being very taken with the notion of poor people banding together to form unions to stand up to various forms of inequality and tyranny.

    Ironically, I have become disaffected with the teaching unions for various reasons - not least being that I don't feel at all represented by them - but that's another story.

    Anyway, the point of my posting is this - if people stand collectively then they can make a difference. They can work long time to change the law and influence the political picture

    - but they can in the meantime 'VOTE WITH THEIR FEET'.

    We are very lucky in this country in that we are not so draconian that we would end up in prison for not undertaking our minute by minute observations for the thousand plus post-its to evidence the Foundation Stage Profiles (for instance).

    We could just stop doing them.

    Tomorrow - when you go to work - and the next day and the next day - just don't do them.

    I believe one term for this is 'civil disobedience'.

    I was quite inspired as a child to learn about the notion of democracy and being represented by politicians etc. But what happens when we don't feel represented, when we don't trust the integrity of all politicians, when we see politicians exploiting their own legislation and committees (did you see the recent Channel 4 Dispatches programme about some of our top politicians, including Ed Balls and his wife, and how they exploit the self-regulated expenses systems?)

    I am not going to fawn to these politicians. They are supposed to support the interests of ordinary people. They should communicate with the ordinary people. They should listen to the concerns and unhappiness of ordinary people. They should work to support, train and encourage and reward ordinary people.

    The teaching climate for many has been increasingly unhappy for a number of years. This needs to change radically. But don't mess around and wait for permission to change what you think is wrong in your settings. Just do it.

    These politicians are supposed to represent and be accountable to US - not the other way round.

  7. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    We already have a curriculum for reception children which only differs from the reception element of EYFS in very minor ways so the only issue is that what was guidance (BIRTH TO THREE MATTERS) has been incorporated and will become statutory in 2008. Teaching using synthetic phonics is NOT statutory now and will NOT be statutory in 2008 so I'm not sure why it is being brought into this debate.
  8. "...so I'm not sure why it is being brought into this debate."

    We are going round in circles!

    Because it has been mentioned specifically by Richard House and there is an anti-literacy element to the literature launching this campaign.

    Because Richard House is a Rudolf Steiner representative and the philosophy is anti-teaching reading before children are seven.

    Because there are statements made that literacy teaching at a young age is damaging in the long run and this is a very misleading statement to make - and certainly not a consequence of synthetic phonics.

    Because none of these experts nodded their heads when 'ordinary' practitioners raised their unhappiness in the public domain and now when they have, synthetic phonics has been linked with the complaints.

    msz - I am surprised that we have to keep repeating these observations to you.
  9. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Debbie I am surprised that they are even mentioned at all as they have nothing what so ever to do with EYFS.

    Whether or not EYFS becomes statutory in 2008 (and personally I would like to see it become guidance only)
    it will NOT effect how schools choose to teach reading.
    What Richard House has said about synthetic phonics has been interpreted by some that the campaign is against phonics as a method of teaching which is not at all my understanding. The REAL and ONLY issue is do we as professionals believe we should have legislation for babies?
  10. "...I am surprised that they are even mentioned at all as they have nothing what so ever to do with EYFS."


    Isn't that our point!
  11. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    So why is it the focus of the discussion on here when it is clearly not the main issue?
  12. " it is clearly not the main issue"

    The focus on it is because it is NOT clear!
  13. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    We do need legislation for babies. What we do not need is paperwork for babies. We do not need tick box culture for babies but we need to be accountable and there does need to be a standard of quality in care and education. So EYFS is to me the opener of a better way for us in early years cos where children are delopmentally delayed we can now put them in the developmental phase they function at (sadly we cannot then insist on the staffing ratio for this age range!) and the balance is now made between care and education.

    reading. We can teach children to read. We teach babies to read by responding to and mirroring them in a close and intelligent way to foster communication skills, and then language skills. We do it intuitively because we are early years people. Soem parents do it too, and some people have to learn to do it. But then again, some adults do not and cannot do it and then language, and cognitive problems set in and are almost impossible to undo and remediate because the brain in small humans needs all the connections to function and sadly it can be too late etc etc etc. So early reading (language dev.) is impaired.

    Early language is in units of meaning. But alongside this is a joy and play in sounds and sounds with and without meaning. SOme chldren never experience any of this and end up talking in a limited range of short phrases eg "mewandwin". It does not matter when this child is taught phonics because it will always be damaged. It will remain around 12 months mark well into reception and beyond, always delayed. Unless.

    Synthetic phonics is a route which can help to remediate in such cases. Discuss.

    We would not fail to teach a baby to walk, babble with him her or otherwise ignore its needs whatever they were. Would we? So why is it not appropriate to teach (used very broadly more as play/interact with) what they need to know about sounds? IN our own personal intuitive way.

    Formal teaching defined as giving them things too hard and unmatched to development is cruel and damaging eg you cannot teach a baby to use a potty although some people swear that you can. Ho hum. Best not ask a two year old to saw up logs kind of thing. But it is not acceptable to give worksheets and other boring stuff now to young children. That is in the past.

    What we need is EYFS, and more trained and intelligent and qualified workers, higher status for such workers, and for parening generally, higher staffing ratio, and less paperwork,less tick lists, less assessment, less planning, no audits, no whole school meetings, less pressure, no ISP, no unrealistic targets, no Durham PIPS and no eprofile and a continuing and lively debate about pedagogy. The occasional visit from a cleaner. Let us get on with our job. We do it well. Help us.
  14. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    "129 | Posted by: debbiehep at 07 Dec 2007 16:52
    "...I am surprised that they are even mentioned at all as they have nothing what so ever to do with EYFS."


    Isn't that our point!"


    "131 | Posted by: debbiehep at 07 Dec 2007 17:48
    " it is clearly not the main issue"

    The focus on it is because it is NOT clear!"
  15. "The focus on it is because IT is NOT clear!"

    "it" above meaning the agenda of Richard House and co.

    There are several of us who have contributed to this thread - and we have all expressed our unhappiness about the dig (sideways or otherwise) at synthetic phonics teaching.

    If Richard House and co. simply wanted to protest at the EYFS becoming statutory in 2008, then that is what they would have written about.

    As it stands, the literature, WITHOUT DOUBT, includes unfounded swipes at synthetic phonics and early literacy teaching specifically.

    The question is, then, that if people support the Open Eye campaign directly by signing up to it, are they ALSO agreeing to that sideways (or rather, DIRECT) swipe at synthetic phonics and literacy teaching.

    msz - The literature for the Open Eye campaign is not crystal clear and, arguably, not well written - not fit for purpose.

  16. ...unless of course, the 'purpose' is actually an attack not only on the EYFS becoming statutory BUT ALSO an attack on synthetic phonics teaching.

    No-one should be blinkered about this campaign.
  17. This petition and its responses go far beyond the EYFS not being made statutory. The petition is also about the obsession with formal monitoring, teachers being brought out of classrooms to do excessive and, arbuably, unnecessary paperwork. It was about the policing role given to local authorities as part of the Foundation Stage Profiles arrangement. Nothing but judgement, judgement, judgement - a system gone mad.

    What the petition has become is evidence of a non-listening government and disinterested advisers. It is evidence of a loss of freedom and respect and it is evidence of bureaucracy of the worst kind. The people who wrote this bureaucratic material and who purport to care for children, don't really know how to treat anyone - adults or children.

    Note the comments in the introduction about the respect for the uniqueness of individual contexts.

    There is a thread on the early years staffroom forum right now asking for video clips of how to train staff 'to observe'. For goodness sake.

    I am suggesting that this petition is still a valid one and it would be a wonderful thing if people continued to contribute to THIS petition - the petition enabling us to express our individual views but the views of the 'practitioners'. I am suggesting that we, the practitioners, are the REAL experts. We are still at the playdough face - unlike, it seems to me, the advocates of the Open Eye petition - all 'advisers' and 'experts'.

    21 March 2007 at 09.45
    The Early Years petition
    A heated debate has been taking place in the Early Years Staffroom about the issues facing Early Years practitioners in both the state and voluntary sectors. Debbie Hepplewhite, synthetic phonics consultant, explains the issues and asks for your support in an online petition

    The Petition

    To revamp completely the Foundation Stage Profile and remove the expectations for observations and evidencing
    To discuss the various issues regarding curriculum content, delivery, provision and ethos in foundation stage settings and key stage 1
    To challenge the current teaching climate particularly in early years and to hold local authority and early years advisers to account for their pedantic and inflexible attitudes and 'advice'
    To examine the need - or otherwise - for formal target-setting and tracking particularly for children who do not even have to attend a state institution yet!
    To challenge the notion that it is acceptable for teachers to be covered in classrooms by teaching assistants in order to facilitate paperwork requirements (PPA)
    To implement systems of 'upwards evaluation' whereby those in authority over us are accountable for their man-management and advice - and to ensure that there are mechanisms in place for challenging those in authority
    Contributors to the Early Years forum have offered numerous arguments as to why the Early Years statutory - or soon to be statutory - documents are not acceptable in their current format. The main disquiet is a consequence of the statutory assessment requirements and the way in which these are policed. The government needs to differentiate between appropriate material for training and information purposes and appropriate material for national assessment purposes.

    Many practitioners have described with dismay the requirement to observe children ?obsessively? to provide evidence to ?justify? professional judgements for the Foundation Stage Profiles. There are many issues here, not least being the need to question the necessity of providing so many detailed descriptions of attainment for children who are under five.

    In contrast, the national assessment requirements for the six years of formal education of key stage 1 and key stage 2 amount to teacher assessment in reading, writing, maths and science by the end of Year 2 (age 7) and written tests in reading, writing, maths and science at the end of Year 6 (age 11). How can it be that for pre-schoolers onerous planning, assessment and evidencing is required with the stipulation that local authority advisers, moderators and Ofsted inspectors are allowed access to scrutinise, moderate and pass judgements on teachers?/practitioners? records?

    Working under such conditions can feel intolerable as if Big Brother is constantly ?watching? and ?judging? provision and practice, and attempting to create uniformity despite the many different contexts in which we work.

    Further, an early years? practitioner?s ?lot? is one of chance according to the policies of the local authority advisers. Some advisers urge minimal requirements for ?evidence? for the Foundation Stage Profiles, whereas other advisers stipulate specific numbers of pieces of evidence, which can amount to a ludicrous burden. Regardless of the interpretations of requirements by individual advisers, a time management study would soon show that the management of the Foundation Stage Profiles is nothing short of onerous - and yet much of it is arguably unnecessary.

    Practitioners describe how their planning and practice is completely skewed by the requirement to observe and record in order to provide evidence - and also how they loathe this undertaking. It is not a straightforward matter of merely observing and recording for general records because these observations have then to be matched with the numerous objectives stipulated in the profiles themselves - per child. This is enormously time-consuming. A visit to any early years setting will reveal adults with clipboards in hands or post-its in pockets observing children at the expense of interacting with them or teaching them.

    What is also apparent through the TES forum is that providers have many different teaching styles and philosophies and these differences are clearly not respected by those in authority. People are increasingly told exactly how they should be establishing and organising their settings and then they are judged according to this formula. Whilst the rhetoric of this government is entirely about the individualism of children with its quest for personalised learning, no equal respect is paid to the adults? individualism or the uniqueness of context of every early years setting.

    The government, in effect, is giving contradictory messages in terms of its desire for uniformity, conformity and individualism. Most worrying of all is the overall belief of providers that they can do nothing to challenge or change this scenario except leave the profession, downsize or conform. Is this what parents would want?

    We call upon those in government to discuss the issues raised in this petition urgently and to refrain from establishing further statutory requirements for the early years pending discussions.

    Useful links
    Current government documents:
    DfES handbook
    DfES scalebooklet
    DfES Learning Goals
    The Early Years Themes and Principles

    Comments (74)

    I support the above petition
    Reception teacher.
    Posted by: anuujjal on 21 March 2007 at 21.36

    I give my support. I returned to work as a NNEB qualified nursery nurse in a private nursery last year. I left my last job as a nursery nurse in a school in 1997. I am shocked at the excessive observations , record keeping , assessments, I feel pressure to always have a a pen in my hand to provide evidence that nobody will have time to read.When i returned to work last year i met with lots of early years consultants ,when i asked about training to bring me up to date i was informed there was nothing available. I was disheartened and upset, i lost all my confidence as i have always felt in my last job that i provided my class with an excellent start.I have seen that i could access training to do NVQ,4,5,6. Who can afford to pay for staff trained at these higher levels?
    Posted by: twister on 22 March 2007 at 09.50

    I support the petition for a simpler early years curriculum.
    I have worked for the past ten years in the early years sector and over that time the paperwork has significantly increased, making it harder to actually spend time with the children encouraging and motivating them to learn.

    Posted by: whistlecroft on 22 March 2007 at 14.31

    I have taught in reception for the last five years, and have followed the debate on the Early Years forum with great interest. I agree entirely with all the points that Debbie Hepplewhite has made. In particular, all the need for evidencing and observing means less time spent interacting with the children in a natural way - I feel I am always on the look-out for a Profile point. Many of the Profile statements need "interpreting" by LEA advisers at moderating meetings - more time away from my class. I also feel strongly that I cannot choose to organise my classroom or teach in a way that suits my own style. The weight of advice from above actually makes me very confused about "how I should be doing it and organising it." I am a very experienced teacher(just past retirement age) and if I suffer from these anxieties, what must it be like for younger colleagues. For instance, we were told by an adviser that young children should only sit on the carpet for whole class teaching for seven minutes.Well, the answer to that is that sometimes they can sit longer than that. It all depends on what you are doing and how you do it.But now, when I have a lesson observation, I feel constrained by that advice. I really hope that someone in authority listens to our concerns.
    Posted by: christinej on 23 March 2007 at 06.32

    While reading the introduction to the petition, I clicked on the link to the EY staffroom which puportedly leads to the "heated debate" .

    I was disappointed when it lead, instead, to 11 pages of "signatories" to the petition.

    As an EY practitioner in a different education system, which thankfully does not impose the same pressures re profiles and evidencing on staff, I have followed the "heated debate" on other EY threads with great interest.

    -?Early Years Petition. TES please take note!?


    - "coming out re Foundation Stage Profiles"


    As the debate developed, I read of the experiences of EY teachers, trying to cope with the overwhelming demands placed upon them, with growing disbelief.

    I felt myself getting stressed at the idea of teaching under these conditions!

    I feel that the introduction to the petition should also include a link to these other threads, to give those new to the debate, a real sense of the pressure and frustration EY teachers face due to the FSPs.

    Posted by: Kat07 on 23 March 2007 at 07.44

    I am a reception class teacher and I support the petition.
    Posted by: sadika on 23 March 2007 at 09.07

    I am a Reception Class Teacher and teacher in an East London Primary. This ridiculous obsession with observation and the watering down of children's learning through excessive expectations around play based activities is outrageous. I would rather leave the profession than comply - I simply refuse to do it.

    When are the so called Advisers et al going to pay our Young Learners the compliment of assuming that they can actually learn the necessary academic skills required to set them up for life and to keep their damn nosed out of the classrooms. Let us trained and skills professionals ACTUALLY TEACH rather than subject our children to mechanical processes. ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!
    Posted by: DJM765 on 23 March 2007 at 10.44

    Apologies for the typos in my last submission - written straight from heart and in passionate anger!
    Posted by: DJM765 on 23 March 2007 at 10.46

    I gie my support to the above comments, as I do not believe they support the child's progression and development.
    I do not think it is appropriate for HLTA to cover fully qualified teachers in any age range.

    I do not think the profile is a valid working document and is of little use to year 1 teachers; many of whom do not have the time to read it, and use their own early assessments of the children in order to plan for progression, teaching and learning.

    Due to the nature of how young children learn, I do not think target setting is appropriate in the early years and can in fact set the child up to fail if they are not yet at this stage of development.

    I agree that some LA advisors are unable to give advice that is of any use, and I do believe that if this case arises then we should have the opportunity to discuss and change if needed.

    Unless the ratio is changed in the early years state sector then it is not possible to observe the amount of children we have or to plan for individuals. A key worker system is not suitable in a School environment with unqualified staff and often classes over 30.
    Posted by: cinderella1 on 23 March 2007 at 12.39

    The petetion as written should be actively supported by all who believe in the needs of young children. I have to note my reservations however about joining in a petition with an active leader who has such strong views about phonics and when they should start. as long as the petition is about what it says then it should be very difficult to oppose
    Governor and member of that scary band of adult helpers.At least the background debate shows there are a lot of you who care passionately. For that i am grateful
    Posted by: alanease on 23 March 2007 at 15.20

    I agree and have signed the petition. It has been given to Alan Jones now.

    What we have is 70 + early learning goals. In four steps. Mutliply by number of children to be assessed.

    70x4x (x no of children) = overload.

    To be then condensed into the 13 nine point scales of the eprofile. Confused? So am I. Might as well measure the children with a fish. Much of is based on opinion anyway hence the moderation.

    Which data is now being used to prove value added, support SEF forms, delight and/or baffle OFSET, predict outcomes later in school, set targets for education authorities, etc etc. You can produce graphs to die for, but it does nothing to improve chances and opportunities for our children, or the lot of the early years practitioner.

    This data is unreliable. Last year we were advised to score average of 6 points on each scale. Then they told us, hooray, people are scoring the same, it works. No, you told us to score them at 6 points.

    If all early years teachers scored all children on 7 this year we could pretend that education had improved. Or we could all score children as 9. We would have to go to a lot of moderation meetings but it would render the data of the eprofile meaningless.

    The stepping stones curriculum is brief and to the point. It is value based. It allows us to give children what they need.

    The research shows that there are some factors which improve outcomes for children, EPPE and SPEEL. One of these factors is a lead practioner who can articulate how young children learn. Nowhere is it proven that using the stepping stones for assessment will have any impact on the learning process for young children. The stepping stones were supposed to guide us to provide appropriately for small humans.

    And re reading. The research supports synthetic phonics. Let's bin the spurious paperwork and get on with giving children the skills, knowledge and understanding they need to become our future.
    Posted by: NellyFUF on 23 March 2007 at 17.37

    Alan Johnson. It has been a busy day!
    Posted by: NellyFUF on 23 March 2007 at 18.00

    I agree and add my name to the petition
    Posted by: ARTfor on 23 March 2007 at 18.20

    As yet another overworked reception teacher, I agree with the petition wholeheartedly. I am also confident enough in my own ability and bolshie enough to refuse to carry out time consuming and meaningless observations of children who I know inside out. When I read obserrvations from our feeeder preschool I despair - "Bertie said goodbye to his mum and hung up his coat..." what on earth does that tell me about the child? And what a waste of the practitioners time! I do make observations in the first term as part of my initial assessments in order to plan for each child as an individual and write down any notable achievements throughout the year. I also make notes on how children have managed teacher led tasks, especially in literacy and maths, to help me plan the next unit of work. We have recently been asked to set targets but I make these as simple and easy to manage as poss. from 'Dorissy'
    Posted by: paulariome on 23 March 2007 at 20.02

    The Foundation Stage has been a complete disaster for educating our youngest children. Get rid of the profile but even more importantly get rid of this monstrous social experiment.
    Posted by: Fr Bobby Sock on 23 March 2007 at 21.21

    Which teacher is likely to know their children better, and to make a genuine difference to their lives: the one who is observing for weeks on end, wearing a tiara, listening but "unavailable to answer", or the one who is available to talk, takes the children's learning to a higher level instantly, through high level questioning and is then able to plan for this higher level?
    Which child will flourish in their development and enjoy their precious early years: the one with written targets to reach by the end of the term, and a teacher too busy writing them, or the one whose teacher is busy helping them reach developmental milestones so fast, so easily that they become a part of life, that writing each one of them down is pointless, as they are usually reached before the ink dries?
    The Foundation Stage Curriculum itself, play-based and open to the teacher's creative touch, was a wonderful idea. Along comes the Foundation Stage Profile, with the attendant advisers, picky LEA staff who have given up their own classrooms, and now try to impose their ideas on unsuspecting early years teachers - what a dreadful anticlimax!
    Posted by: Moosle on 23 March 2007 at 21.38

    Who actually wrote the Stepping Stones?

    They seem to me to have been written by a committee of obsessively completionist androids. Will the authors of this horrible document stand up and be counted?
    Posted by: inky on 23 March 2007 at 21.41

    Who actually wrote the Stepping Stones?

    They seem to me to have been written by a committee of obsessively completionist androids. Will the authors of this horrible document stand up and be counted?
    Posted by: inky on 23 March 2007 at 21.41

    Whoops. Sorry.

    Names, please.....?
    Posted by: inky on 23 March 2007 at 21.44

    Moosle, your post is so eloquent.
    Posted by: inky on 23 March 2007 at 21.48


    Stephen Armstrong ponders the new Early Years curriculum!
    Posted by: debbiehep on 23 March 2007 at 23.52


    Ted Wragg would be proud of us - but probably wonders why it's taken us this long!
    Posted by: debbiehep on 23 March 2007 at 23.54


    Melanie Phillips's views on the ga-ga government's Early Years curriculum!
    Posted by: debbiehep on 23 March 2007 at 23.56

    This has to be one of my favourite FSP points.

    Creative development FSP 7.
    'Uses imagination in art and design, music, dance, imaginative and role-play and stories. Responds in a variety of ways to what s/he sees, hears, smells, touches and feels.'

    So, I will change Nellys statistics.
    6 areas x 13 FSP points x 3 observations x no. of children + numerous extra observations to cover statements like the one above.

    Now, I wont do it any more. I will guess at the end of the year!
    I will make the majority of my children a 6 in each area with some higher and some lower.

    The reason that I have made this decision is not just the stupidity of the profiles but the fact that someone is taking my interpretation of the childrens abilities based on an extremely wooly system and using the scores to make predictions on my 4 and 5 year olds future and on my teaching ability.
    This is why I feel so strongly about this petition and support the hard work of Debbie and others as they push the cause further.
    Posted by: PiggySue on 24 March 2007 at 07.13

    A little story
    A recent moderation cluster meeting. The Advisor says to us that for EAL children we do not need evidence.... we can just observe them and if they are playing in the home corner then we can give them certain profile points around language for thinking and literacy etc by deducing that they are role playing and guessing what they are saying. The room was in uproar as 30 grown women shouted,

    "No, we can't! We have been compiling evidence for all these years, don't change the goal posts just because you cannot use your stupid eprofile for children new to English! If we cannot communicate with these children then we will not score them on the eprofile. If we can do that for these children we will do it for all the children."

    Also recently, we have introduced the concept of pre yellow stepping stones. For schools where the children are below average. For heaven's sake! Which 3 year olds are not behaving like three year olds! If there is not a working and reliable baseline assessment for children entering nursery after all the work done with early years then people should be resigning at high levels. Why don't they collect some meaningful information instead? We have got ourselves a labourious and labour intensive collection of data which does not reveal how disadvantage impacts on the lives of our most vulnerable children.

    We can see that you are wearing no clothes.
    Posted by: NellyFUF on 24 March 2007 at 11.04

    I know I've mentioned this before but I really do wish I could find the names of the people who sat down and wrote the stepping stones. Have they vanished off the face of the earth in their efforts to burrow ever deeper into all the minutiae of child development? Are they too scared of being laughed to shame over some of the horrible 'sentences' they 'wrote' in order to do this?

    That's enough for now. In the words of one my favourite [though mercifully short] SSs: Can stop.
    Posted by: inky on 24 March 2007 at 13.24

    Except to say that Ted Wragg's sad death seems to have left Common Sense without an eminent spokesperson.

    Posted by: inky on 24 March 2007 at 13.27

    Sorry but what does TA's covering PPA have to do with the state of the Early Years Curriculum? I'm happy to sign up to anything that will ease my work load and mean that I can play/teach/develop the children - which I think the Foundation Stage is supposed to be about. But I don't see the relevance to PPA time.
    Posted by: PINKDANIEL on 24 March 2007 at 17.48

    PPA time is a valuable prize hard fought for by our unions and should not be given up easily. However, the important issue here is who covers it.In some schools it is covered bt HLTA's and in others it is covered by a Teacher. I know that there are people who feel that both do a good job but this really depends on the school, the classroom environment and the people involved. The big problem is when the class is not managed properly and the quality of teaching is poor. If you consider PPA as 1/10 of a childs 'learning' time, it must be 'quality'. In my experience, it generally is not. I have to spend a considerable time pulling the class back together again and for what........the dubious pleasure of being able to sit in a draughty room with constant interuptions, a child height table and an ancient computer, and a growing mountain of paperwork that is now considered 'ok' because I have been given PPA time! Well, personally I would rather be in the classroom!
    Posted by: PiggySue on 24 March 2007 at 21.03

    I would also like to add my name to the petition and fully support those who wish to axe the Foundation Stage Profile. I am a Reception teacher in County Durham and we use the Flying Start baseline system. At the end of each year I have to complete both in my own time as well as writing a report. This duplicated information is then pushed into a cupboard in Year 1. Parents are only interested in reading my personal comments and have told me they do not understand the Profile. I also agree that, for those children who enter Nursery well below the first stepping stones, the Profile does not at all reflect the progress they make within the Foundation Stage. Alan Johnson, if a plumber comes to your house to fix the tap, do you tell him how to do it? Why don't you leave us to get on with the job we have been trained to do - we are the professionals!!
    Posted by: plimpy on 24 March 2007 at 21.18

    Am I correct in my beleif that child minders have now to help teach children and assess and record their progress. If so this will be daunting to a lot of childminders. When my children attended a minder they had great fun painting, baking, feeding the ducks at the local park isnt this whatlearning in their early years is all about? They certainly had a good start to nursery and reception class
    Posted by: who can I be on 25 March 2007 at 00.14

    I am currently a Reception teacher. Collecting endless evidence for 30 children in my class for things that I know they can do is preventing me from using more of my time actually teaching them. Having taught Year 1 in the past I know that the profiles are not particularly useful as summative assessment. I have always sat down with the previous teacher and discussed children, which is so much better. Their only use seems to be to gather statistics for local and national government which while necessary does not warrant the amount of teaching time that it removes from the classroom.
    Posted by: roise on 25 March 2007 at 02.59

    Those poor souls who wrote the stepping stones.... they never meant them to be used for the on-entry assessment of small children. They have been hijacked by the current trend to collection of data for cohort tracking and target setting. No one in their right mind forsaw the use of the curriculum for this kind of big brother data madness. Now children of 4 can go through school with a number attached to them from the FSP.

    Parents do not know what stepping stones info is collected and retained for their three year olds. Imagine yourself, that your three year old has been assessed as pre yellow by a teacher or nursery nurse. Blooming bananas!
    Posted by: NellyFUF on 25 March 2007 at 12.19

    We need to remember that the Foundation Stage Profile was to replace Baseline and was thoughfully changed to end of reception year, to give children time to develop before we judged them.

    Now we are baselining them in nursery with On Entry assessments which are beloved of OFSTED and ISP. It was not meant to be like this. Add to this a culture of whole school tracking and target setting. These assessments are unreliable and inappropriate coming from a part of the curriuculum which was guidance for planning/identifying childrens' stage of development.

    We would be better to return to the old Baseline assessments which were best fit and were accessible without a huge amount of moderation and evidence.
    Posted by: NellyFUF on 25 March 2007 at 19.03

    24th June 1999

    I am against the hurried child, the harried
    child who stands and stares who wants
    one last sight, one more touch, a bigger bite,
    another kiss, who wants to watch,
    who talks non-stop, feverishly building
    a ceaseless cathedral of their words.
    I am against the early culling
    of their vines, depletion
    of their stock; I am against making winged feet toe too straight a line, then weighted down with clay.
    I am against the closing of the door to instinct and insight, against
    yesterday heaping today into tomorrow.
    I am against the destruction of poetry so all can sing the same tune. My heart is gladdened in their chaotic dance

    and where they stare I notice new again, in their ceaseless cathedrals I hear
    a long forgotten prayer, their fingers
    ooze a touch that is the reach of spring,
    their appetite for sweet recalls my own
    and the greediness to kiss; I know too well.

    Posted by: alicante on 26 March 2007 at 00.02

    THE WINDOW BOX (1997)
    Do not put your child
    to many a nursery or reception class;
    life there is not a gas
    which children ought to breathe.

    Imagination withers and lasts
    no longer than a candle sealed in glass;
    here?s how they pass
    those childhood days of leave.

    Marching in and colouring in,
    filling in and fitting in,
    taking in and taken in,
    tracing over, grazing over,

    skimming over, skipping over,
    no food for thought, they starve
    or else like peas trained on a frame,
    they cannot stand without restrain,

    awaiting hands to pick their pods
    and process them in numbered lots,
    (and all their lives will seek the same),
    quick chilled to keep the freshness in.

    Children now like simpletons,
    with deformed heads and narrow limbs,
    the compact of conformity,
    deficient in diversity.
    Posted by: alicante on 26 March 2007 at 00.06

    1996 I am the spirit of protection and love,
    I am the broad wing, I am the silver gill,
    I will not be lead by the bronze ring
    hooked through my nose
    by which you have supposed
    I would be lead contentedly.

    I am the trilling and the rilling
    of the high branched bird,
    I am the echo and the laughter
    in the far flung word,
    I am a river running to my sea;
    and you would dip a cup
    into my flow and measure me??

    Into that river children leap from a high rock,
    someone fishes, there is a sandy bank
    for dragonflies to dance, a chance to glance
    a sultan?s stance of time,
    a Pharaoh?s pyramid of thought:
    this is the river run into your cup of quality?
    that you might gauge my quantity?
    And I a river, not a cup,
    a broad wing, not a feather plucked,
    a living leap and nothing less,
    my outcome un-desired in tiny steps:
    do not address me by diminutive
    but exalt me in my name,
    my struggle not to know, but be;
    not narrow but wide,
    not constricted but expanded,
    not small but immense.

    D.L.O.?s.Desirable Learning Outcomes for children by way of Stepping Stones
    Posted by: alicante on 26 March 2007 at 00.10


    I am so glad to be alive,
    I thought I'd died,
    yet I revived !

    'An authentic miracle',
    I know, I know, that debacle,
    The last minute funeral,

    But it was only then,
    Just at the moment when
    Screwing on the lid began,

    I heard it firstly distant,
    A scratching, soft, insistent,
    -I resurrected in an instant !

    I'm sorry, yes, I shocked you all
    Leaping naked like that without the shawl,
    And that running out into the hall,

    It was a shock to me,
    Being dead was very easy,
    -it was either dead or crazy-

    and then I gave that awful shout
    -you wondered what about !'-
    the sound just tumbling out,

    and worst of all, I know, for you,
    was seeing my corpse in lieu
    of me, keep wandering through.

    In my case as in so many,
    Resurrection was quite easy,
    It was the dying I could barely

    Find the time, but then I did
    And thank god awoke before the lid
    Screwed so tight the light was hid,

    Forgive me if my bones
    Rattle like shaken stones,
    Understand I need to run

    And forgive this stupid grin,
    Its partly emaciation
    -oh by the way I haven't eaten

    for quite some time- so forgive
    my habit of swallowing-in
    -it really isn't easy being thin,

    I'm so glad to be alive,
    I so nearly, nearly died.
    So hey, I'm back outside
    Posted by: alicante on 26 March 2007 at 00.15

    Years ago children went to pre-School to play and sociaise. Now they are tested too much. Has all the money being spent made such a difference to the end result? Ithink not as we constantly read about low standards of literacy and numeracy among school leavers and university entrants. Let teachers teach and do the job they were trained to do. No more new iniatitives from this government! No wonder there are so many disillusioned and stressed teachers. I fully support this petition.
    Posted by: maryb8448 on 27 March 2007 at 13.35

    Teachers need to teach and not have to write endless reams of evidence on how a four year old gets dressed, or sit and watch children play for hours in a week. We know when and how to observe children and we know how to teach, so leave us to it. The endless bits of paper recording children's learning (including those not yet at legal school age!!!!)are a waste of time as invariably no-one reads them, they are eventually just thrown away and anyway i can record childrens' development in a much more efficient and do-able way - as can the rest of us.

    The foundation Profiles are a joke to the parents who find them redicuously long-winded and full of trivia - which, of course, they are.

    Please listen to what is being said as ignoring us and our requirements may mean we shall have to ignore yours as per the time you told us not to cuddle the children or call them 'sweetheart' - again the parents thought that a stupid idea.

    Get real and listen to the experts - that's us NOT YOU.
    Posted by: heti on 28 March 2007 at 09.39

    Often the simplest and most straight forward ideas are often the best solution. Stream line the curriculum and make what you do 100% affective. Too much can lead to confusion.
    Posted by: spfoto on 28 March 2007 at 12.28

    Foundation Stage Profile/Early Learning Goals encapsulate the first vestiges of the influence of the totalitarian state. It is not about education - it is about control.It is not about inclusion but it is about intrusion. Whichever sub-human 'lizard ********' evacuated this projectile vomit of unnecessary checks and documentation should be hanged, racked, drawn and quartered before being consigned to the fires of Mount Doom.
    Add my name to the list of the sane.
    Posted by: gillray on 28 March 2007 at 15.46

    Let us support children's natural love of learning. Let us talk to them, answer their question, help them build, sing with them, dance with them, listen to their stories - Stop putting them off in the name of assessments and target setting!
    I support this petition.
    Posted by: Willow Tree on 28 March 2007 at 20.13

    I am an HLTA,with a nursery nurse qualification and I am currently taking a degree in early years which will lead to a full honours. I have covered PPA for two years. first in nursery class where I was the main support for the teacher and now in reception class. HLTA follow teachers plans, for the session and keep to the exact routine and expectations of the teacher. They know the children best and are able to be consistant in reflecting the teachers teaching style. I have had supply after supply coming into the class, only to say 'what do you do, what happens next, use unsuitable teaching styles on children that have no relationship with them and therefore idea of what is happening when suddenly everything isnt how it was yestereday. I am proud to be an HLTA and do everything that the teacher would, except plan the learning objectives. Firstly you complain about all the paperwork and then you complain about being out of the class for few hours to do it.
    Posted by: hltaandproudofit on 29 March 2007 at 11.45

    I am a trainee teacher and a mother. My 2 boys are in nursery 2 days a week so I can complete my training. I have to work. I do not want them subjected to a curriculum, monitoring, asessment etc. I want them to play, laugh and have fun. They start school soon enough in this country, too soon in my opinion. I think they should have turned 5 before they start. Let's not lock our children into pure academic expectations - Willow Tree is right - let children have a part in leading the way. The next thing the Government will want to bolt on, is assessing pre-criminal tendancies! I support the petition.
    Posted by: evenella on 29 March 2007 at 12.20

    "I have had supply after supply coming into the class, only to say 'what do you do"

    This is indeed very pertinent but nothing to do with the issue of teaching assitants taking over in the classroom. I am sure you are an excellent HLTA - as are many other personnel - but this is not the issue either. You are taking the points being made personally as if they are an afront to your ability and dedication. Firstly, if teaching assistants can take over classes, this negates the need for a teaching qualification. Secondly, teachers were brought out of classrooms to address increasing mountains of formal paperwork - much of which is arguably 'over the top'. Instead, we should have had an examination of the tendency towards increasing amounts of formal bureaucracy such as formal target-setting and overly-detailed planning - and from there, this expectation should have been reduced. Thirdly, in many cases teachers end up writing additional plans for the overseen lessons which can add to the teachers' burdens - or the teachers pick up the pieces of the disruption to the children which may ensue (but not following your provision). Fourthly, schools were not given sufficient funds to employ an additional teacher on the staff who would therefore know the routines of the school and classes. Fifthly, teaching assistants are sometimes too readily put in charge of classes to cover for teachers beyond just the PPA arrangement. Sixthly, teaching assistants can spend their time on PPA cover instead of being available to assist as an EXTRA pair of hands in the classroom to address the teaching alonside the teachers.

    This list goes on and on. None of this is a reflection of the ability of HLTAs. The very principle of teaching assistants covering classes makes a mockery of training to become a teacher and shows the nonsense of the modern demand to record everything on paper.
    Posted by: debbiehep on 29 March 2007 at 19.08

    I support this petition. As a remedial tutor who, along with thousands of others, has witnessed for years the tragic consequences of children unable to read I am deeply concerned. Excessive bureaucracy is profoundly damaging both for child development and for the chance to give children reading skills in an unpressurized and nurturing environment. The pressure put on teachers is intolerable and must affect children - who are the most targeted and observed in Western Europe.

    There is another point that?s not flagged up enough. Teacher training colleges spend no time, or a derisory amount, teaching students ?how reading works? ie the alphabetic code and the necessary skills required. This is in NO way the teachers? fault. But for struggling children that gap in basic knowledge is catastrophic! When are Colleges and 'Educationalists' going to be called to account?

    Posted by: Woodpecker on 30 March 2007 at 08.44

    but what will happen to the petition?
    Posted by: nclive on 01 April 2007 at 10.46

    It has already been given to Alan Johnson so it is out of the bag, now it is up to us to explain why we are protesting and keep it rolling.
    Posted by: NellyFUF on 02 April 2007 at 12.27

    Ahhhh people with sense!its fab to read views like mine.Pity no-one listens,but Im used to that ...Im a nursery nurse!!!!!! maria.
    Posted by: everill2 on 03 April 2007 at 17.20

    Ahhhh people with sense!its fab to read views like mine.Pity no-one listens,but Im used to that ...Im a nursery nurse!!!!!! maria.
    Posted by: everill2 on 03 April 2007 at 17.20

    Ahhhh people with sense!its fab to read views like mine.Pity no-one listens,but Im used to that ...Im a nursery nurse!!!!!! maria.
    Posted by: everill2 on 03 April 2007 at 17.20

    Who/ how has this been sent to Alan Johnson? Did he respond?

    Posted by: lostinbelfast on 15 April 2007 at 20.44


    Article by Debbie Hepplewhite: 'Tensions in the Early Years'

    This link leads to an article in the latest Reading Reform Foundation newsletter no. 60 'Accountability - where do we see it?'

    The newsletter is free to download on the Reading Reform Foundation website homepage: www.rrf.org.uk

    If practitioners and parents want to change the status quo in the Early Years, they need to be active and vocal in their support. This is as good a place as any to do this.

    Comments welcome as they are relevant to our EY petition.
    Posted by: debbiehep on 15 April 2007 at 22.49

    I support the petition for a simpler early years curriculum.
    I have worked for the past ten years in the early years sector and over that time the paperwork has significantly increased, making it harder to actually spend time with the children encouraging and motivating them to learn.

    Posted by: alphasbabe on 19 April 2007 at 19.31


    This is essential viewing about the EYFS curriculum.

    It is so good to hear MPs supporting some of the issues we are raising through the petition.

    Maybe Lord Adonis and others will not discuss our issues because the government has already been under so much criticism from other significant groups.

    The difference is that we practitioners can provide real evidence (something this government is very fond of it seems) to support our arguments and criticisms. We are not merely expressing opinions.
    Posted by: debbiehep on 19 April 2007 at 20.34

    Actually - the paperwork has pervaded the very places we share and the time which we spend with the children themselves.
    Posted by: debbiehep on 19 April 2007 at 20.37

    I am an NQT who is now in my second term of teaching a mixed reception/ year one class. I am being moderated within the next two weeks and am getting increasingly concerned about the type of 'support' I may be receiving from the moderator. I find it difficult to ascertain what is acceptable levels of assessment and observation for both the reception and yr 1 children and am getting myself really worked up about the amount of evidence I have to show the moderator. I support this petition wholeheartedly.

    Posted by: Wispa138 on 29 April 2007 at 19.27

    We got moderated in Friday and got slated for not having enough evidence. I have masses of observations from group work (she never even opened the file to look at these) but I don't have thousands of post-its (mainly because I am too busy trying to get through the week's focused tasks & guided reading etc etc). We've been told that in future maybe we should copy some of our 'formal observations' from group work onto post-its, or just use post-its instead of a piece of A4. Is it me or is that crazy? Does it really matter what we write on?

    We were also told we should be making up scrap books of the children's work & be photocopying what they did on whiteboards (again I do do this, but only can on the rare occasions when I have a TA with me). Apparently the moderator sets aside a week when she gets the children to go through their piles of work & decide what should go in the scrapbook (wouldn't she be better off teaching them something? If only I was brave enough to have asked her that!)

    All just more work for us & I feel exhausted & completely demotivated!

    I also got very heavily criticised because I had a worksheet for my children to do on the Maths table (one of Bev's lovely ones on the Hungry Caterpillar which required the children to add the number of fruit and write the total).

    Its the first time I've used a worksheet with them, but all week I'd had piles of objects for the children to count and use to make number sentences, but they just don't. A few of them made pictures out of the objects & sorted them into families etc etc (which is all valid but doesn't meet the objective & there is no-one to spend time at the table focussing them) but on the whole the area isn't popular & the children spend little time there.

    When I put the worksheet out all of the children wanted to do one & I noticed a low achiever going through a pile of numbered spiders to find a '5' to copy - so it obviously encouraged problem solving skills in her.

    So, I'm hoping to get some opinions, does anyone else use any worksheets (not constantly, but where appropriate) or are they really as the work of the devil as our moderator seemed to think???

    Sorry for the long post, but I've been really upset about it all all weekend! ;(
    Posted by: leeloo1 on 29 April 2007 at 21.30

    I'm delighted to be leaving Early Years at the end of this academic year - no more post-its, clipboards, no more taking photos to prove that a child can use a pair of scissors when I can SEE IT WITH MY OWN EYES!

    I am lucky enough to have a fantastic TA, who makes my paperwork life that much easier, but sorry to say she is deserting Reception at the end of the year also. Reception TAs in my school are expected to manage paperwork for 15 children in the reception class, no PPA time for them, and expected to take it home with them during half terms and weekends.
    This stepping stones/evidence nonsense is utterly unworkable in a state reception class with 2 adults and 31 kids.

    My able kids and my SEN kids have suffered from the lack of individual attention I have been giving them as I have been elbow deep in post its and observations. This is manifesting in boredom for the more able children and my children with SEN not progressing as much as I would have expected.
    Posted by: rorygilmore on 20 May 2007 at 21.42

    I am a Nursery Teacher and I support the petition
    Posted by: FoundationStage! on 22 May 2007 at 19.43

    I am a Reception teacher. I support the petition, the profile is not being uniformly moderated to make it a valid assessment tool. The volume of evidence required is ludicrous and time consuming in an already busy world, my paperwork could take from 9 to 5, never mind working with the children! It does not celebrate children's learning but rather makes a nonsense of learning that has taken place by having too many linked clauses. Please, please do away with this nonsense before we all lose the will to live.
    Posted by: justbrowsing on 31 May 2007 at 21.41


    I am adding this link to a thread on examplar planning on the DfES website.

    I truly think that there are people in authority who have very sad lives and think that teachers and practitioners have nothing better to do than write down the minutiae of ordinary practice.

    I think the time has come that those in authority who believe that planning, observations and assessments in the minutiae that is demanded will make us better at our jobs, more caring for the children, or that the provision is improved by bogging us down in words and paper - are looking nothing short of ridiculous.
    Posted by: debbiehep on 06 June 2007 at 22.40


    Here is a thread entitled 'moderated today'.

    This illustrates the enormous variety of moderation experiences by early years teachers.

    You will see that some teachers, quite understandably, feel quite contemptous of those who come in, don't even look at the children, and yet tell teachers that their evidence is insufficient to award various points on the Foundation Stage Profiles.

    So, the question is not where those children really are in terms of their development and accomplishments, but whether there are bits of paper with whizzy pearls of evidence to 'justify' the profile points.
    Posted by: debbiehep on 07 June 2007 at 16.24

    I agree and add my name to the petition.
    Posted by: rouseau22 on 13 June 2007 at 01.28

    I am adding my name and my concerns to the petition.
    (reception teacher)
    Posted by: boaqueen on 13 June 2007 at 20.33

    I am completely behind the petition, and am adding my name.
    Posted by: EmmamMr01 on 16 June 2007 at 09.24

    Posted on the Early Years Forum.

    Well, after many years of teaching Nursery and Reception children, many thousands of pounds worth of professional development, many hours reading and on the computer for personal development, I have had enough. I am leaving Early Years to teach Y2 and I am actually pleased to do this!
    In recent years, the pressure to change systems to a more ?play based? curriculum has been immense. Now we have done it in our school(as far as we are prepared to!) we are not supported by Senior Management and our best efforts have been criticised and laughed at. Monitoring has left staff feeling ill, degraded and humiliated and our voice has been ignored. On top of this I have seen standards tumble. Unfortunately, the abilities of the children on intake have also fallen and no account of this is taken by the school and not even OFSTED were able to see the progress made by our Reception children.
    Now, I am no fool and I am sure that the pressure on Y2 children and teachers is huge but at least this is recognised. Also, I expect that I can at last do what I trained to do many years ago and teach!
    My first love is Reception, nothing beats the thrill of seeing children read their first book or write their first words or numbers. Perhaps, one day I will return to Reception but the future looks gloomy and for now, I feel driven out!
    I would like to thank all the people on this Forum for all your support, encouragement and advice over the years and wish you all well.Although I am saying goodbye as a Reception Teacher, I will still visit this forum as you are all such caring and supportive people and I will still continue to support the Early Years Petition because I think so many young teachers are too inexperienced to see what is happening and it will take them many years to realise. Although I am abandoning my year group in school, I will not abandon my principles, fellow professionals or our children. I will continue to speak out for what I believe is right and offer support where I can
    Posted by: PiggySue on 17 June 2007 at 07.58

    The thread in full can be seen following the link below.
    Posted by: PiggySue on 17 June 2007 at 08.00

    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 the early years 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.
    Posted by: debbiehep on 26 June 2007 at 13.08

    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"

    Posted by: debbiehep on 27 June 2007 at 19.23


    I think politicians and members of the public need to see this developing thread on the early years staffroom forum as it relates to the Foundation Stage Profiles and more of the nonsense that early years practitioners are subjected to re the profile scoring.

    The thread is entitled 'rant about FSP scores'.

    I wonder if Ed Balls will be at all interested in all the pressures, contradictions and unhappiness in the early years?
    Posted by: debbiehep on 13 July 2007 at 09.23

    Things are still up in the air in our part of the education system. Along come EYFS. Ding ding. More glossy folders to read and more hoops to jump through?
    Posted by: NellyFUF on 01 December 2007 at 13.25

    I wrongly assumed that becoming a foundation stage teacher would allow me to help children develop and work towards reaching their potential whilst exploring their interests... paperwork takes away all the benfits of a fs classroom unless the teacher sacrifices every last ounce of passion and energy.

    Please take all comments on board and help us do the best for the children!!
    Posted by: mrs abc on 02 December 2007 at 22.50

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  18. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Maybe this will clear up the confusion
    (taken from the FAQ section of the Open Eye website)

    "Is Open EYE really just a veiled attack on the synthetic phonics approach? - No. Open EYE as a group holds no common opinion on the best way to teach reading. Our only concern is that children should not be taught academic, abstract skills too early. "
  19. And, without doubt, the implication is that synthetic phonics in reception is too early.

    Then the Open Eye literature needs to be changed and the offending comments retracted.

    This will not happen. The Open Eye campaign has got off to a very poor start.

    There are SO many experienced practitioners and parents who are so very delighted to know how to teach beginning reading (yes- the abstract skills), that it is positively cruel for the Open Eye campaign to have muddied the waters.

    How many parents and teachers have older children who they now feel have been failed by their start to learning to read by mixed methods - which includes just 'picking reading up' from the child's natural abilities.

  20. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    "There are SO many experienced practitioners and parents who are so very delighted to know how to teach beginning reading (yes- the abstract skills)," which oddly enough do not form part of EYFS?

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