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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. I have just received a 'round robin' email from Richard House re the Open Eye campaign. Attached to it are the two articles which I am now going to cut and paste. How on earth can msz (or anyone else) say that the two issues about synthetic phonics teaching and the EYFS foundation stage becoming statutory are not being linked here?

    "Nursery World, 6 December 2007
    EYFS comes under attack by experts
    By Catherine Gaunt, Nursery World, 5 December 2007
    A group of child development experts has launched a vehement attack on the Early Years Foundation Stage, claiming that it is 'fundamentally flawed' and will harm young children.
    Richard House, a senior lecturer in psychotherapy and counselling at Roehampton University, London, and a trained Steiner kindergarten teacher, told Nursery World that the campaigners were against the EYFS being compulsory for all early years settings.
    He said, 'The Government is defining child development. It is bureaucratisation and audit mentality being brought into the early years.'
    Early years and childcare workers were only now becoming aware of the real implications of the EYFS, he said.
    'Part of the problem is that a lot of people who work in early years are not interested in policy-making and are only just waking up to what's happening. There is a sense in a way that this has happened without us realising it.'
    He said the group wanted 'the Government to change it from a statutory framework to professional guidelines, like the Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage.'
    Steiner kindergartens are also in discussions with the DCSF and Ofsted over their concerns about the EYFS (see box).
    The Open Eye group has more than 30 members, including psychologists Dr Penelope Leach and Dr Dorothy Rowe and early years consultant Margaret Edgington, who told Nursery World her primary reason for joining was because 'we in the UK have the wrong idea about how to educate young children'.
    She said, 'The Government claim the EYFS is play-based but I don't know any child that will learn phonics through play - it's incompatible.
    'There are inherent contradictions in the EYFS. It talks about the Unique Child, but children are expected to meet Early Learning Goals by the end of the year they turn five.'
    Ms Edgington said that local authorities, faced with pressure to meet Government targets to raise the number of children achieving the Early Learning Goals in Personal, Social and Emotional Development and Communication, Language and Literacy, were in turn putting pressure on practitioners in nursery and reception classes, particularly regarding literacy.
    She felt there was concern among the early years workforce about the EYFS but 'people feel they have to do it. A lot of them know it's contradictory but are afraid to speak out because their jobs could be at stake.'
    She added that she feared that the way the EYFS document had been designed meant that 'the learning and development grids, which provide an arbitrary and distorted view of child development, will be used by the many inexperienced practitioners as a model and checklist.'
    But Bernadette Duffy, head of Thomas Coram Children's Centre, London, disagreed with Dr House about the compulsory nature of the framework.
    'Most of what is in the framework is not compulsory,' she said. This included development grids because they are contained in the practice guidance. 'Practitioners have complete freedom to work in the way they want as long as it is compatible with the EYFS principles and commitments.'
    Ms Duffy said the Government's ambition was more graduates and a well-trained early years workforce, but at this stage there needed to be guidance for best practice because not everyone working in early years was as well-trained or qualified as they should be.
    In response to the Open Eye campaign, children's minister Beverley Hughes said, 'We have the wholehearted backing of the vast majority of early years specialists, who think that the EYFS fits with their flexible approaches to learning. This is because it is a play-based approach, which allows children to learn and develop at their own pace. Nursery staff and childminders will respond to each individual child's learning needs. This could mean, for example, guiding a child to put a brick through the correct slot or showing them that mixing two colours together can produce a third colour. This merely replicates in nurseries and other early years settings exactly what good, interested parents do at home.'
    - The Open Eye letter: page 12
    STEINER SCHOOLS POSITION
    Janni Nicol, early childhood representative, Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship, states: 'We agree that some of the learning and development requirements in the EYFS are not compatible with the Steiner Waldorf early childhood curriculum. We are awaiting a statement from the DCSF on implementation of the EYFS for Steiner settings. We're seeking reassurance from the DCSF and Ofsted that this will do nothing to compromise the essential features and distinctive educational philosophy of Steiner Waldorf, either through registration, inspection or other regulatory procedures.'"

    I'll post the next article which is attached to Richard House's email in the next posting.

     
  2. Here is the second article. Please don't try to tell us that synthetic phonics is not a key issue here for these Open Eye campaigners.

    "BBC
    Review urged on pre-school plans
    Campaigners are urging the government to re-think plans to teach pre-school children in England to read and write.
    A distinguished lobby of academics claims formal lessons could "harm" children at such a young age.
    They also believe an overly academic curriculum imposed on children below the age of compulsory education throws up civil rights implications.
    The government says the new model has been developed in consultation with early years education experts.
    The early years foundation stage (EYFS) becomes a legal requirement next autumn. It sets out a framework for what children are expected to do at different ages.
    This includes teaching toddlers aged three and four to write simple sentences, interpret phonic methods to read complex words and use mathematical ideas to solve practical problems.
    An early head start in literacy is now known to precipitate unforeseen difficulties later on, sometimes including unpredictable emotional and behavioural problems
    Open Eye campaigners
    But it has provoked a revolt in academic circles with the formation of the Open Eye campaign, to alert the government to what they believe are the shortcomings of this formal approach to pre-school learning.
    In a letter to the Times Educational Supplement, they say: "Young children learn most naturally and effectively through a subtle balance of free play, movement, rhythm, repetition and imitation.
    "An overly formal, academic and/or cognitively biased curriculum, however carefully camouflaged, distorts the learning experience; and an early head start in literacy is now known to precipitate unforeseen difficulties later on, sometimes including unpredictable emotional and behavioural problems."
    The letter's signatories include the author of Toxic Childhood, Sue Palmer, childcare expert Penelope Leach, former London schools commissioner Tim Brighouse, psychologist Dorothy Rowe and author and child psychologist Richard House.
    Labelling issues
    Dr House told the BBC News website: "It's just not appropriate to manage everything - this audit mentality is coming into the early years stage and it is going to be disastrous.
    "If the practitioners have to look over their shoulder to tick boxes and are monitoring children, the quality of relating with children could be severely compromised.
    Supposing Einstein had been subjected to a system of synthetic phonics, what would have happened to the theory of relativity?
    Dr Richard House, child psychologist
    "Child development is enormously diverse and some children learn to read and write at three while others, including Nobel-prize winners like Einstein, don't learn to read or write until they are 11 or 12.
    "Supposing Einstein had been subjected to a system of synthetic phonics, what would have happened to the theory of relativity?
    "If you are trying to get children to read and write so young, many of them are going to fail because they're just not going to be able to do it.
    "These children will be labelled as failures which could damage their self-esteem."
    The new curriculum is compulsory and will affect all nurseries and kindergartens in England - state, private and voluntary.
    Campaigners say the severity of the compulsory measures has gone largely unnoticed leading to accusations that it is being introduced by stealth.
    They say: "To impose a compulsory legal framework on what are pre-compulsory school-age children may well have profound civil rights implications."
    The system requires children to be continually assessed according to 13 different learning scales including writing, problem-solving and numeracy.
    A Department for Children, Schools and Families spokesman said: "The Early Years Foundation Stage is not a stealth curriculum.
    "This is a play-based approach to learning, development and care for young children which has been developed with thought, consultation and wholehearted backing of early years specialists. To suggest otherwise is scare-mongering."
    Campaigners want the government to carry out an "urgent, independent review" of EYFS, allowing diverse conceptions of child development to flourish without undue compromise.
    They want the status of EYFS reduced to professional guidelines, free of legal compulsion.
    Story from BBC NEWS:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/education/7120787.s...

    Published: 2007/11/30 13:13:09 GMT

    © BBC MMVII"

     
  3. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    As you will know if you have received Richard House's email the group are responding to the article in Nursery World which they view as negative (so presumably doesn't accurately reflect their position) and the BBC article is the same as I forwarded to you earlier this week.

     
  4. I still think that Open Eye would object to the introduction of formal literacy at an early stage whether it was phonics, mixed methods or whatever and that is where the link with the EYFS comes in - the fact that it makes what was formally guidance compulsory for children that are not compulsory school age, and will make it too results driven. As I said earlier, I am not dissing synthetic phonics - we are using it, the children like it and most of them are making good progress and it makes much more sense, to me at least, than mixed methods. However, I still dont think theyd be worse off if none of it started until year1, and reception was more like "Foundations for Literacy" advocates.
     
  5. I missed this end bit of Richard's email. It will be interesting, then, to learn what has been written for the next issue of Nursery World and Early Years Educator!

    Richard wrote:

    "Finally, I'm attaching a couple of articles for your information - the report from today's Nursery World and also the BBC's Online report of the campaign. Thankfully, our core steering group (Margaret Edgington, Lynne Oldfield and myself) have an article about 'Open EYE' appearing in next week's Nursery World, which will respond fully to the disappointingly negative editorial in this week's issue. We will also have a major article in the next issue of Early Years Educator magazine."


     
  6. "However, I still dont think theyd be worse off if none of it started until year1"

    I have some sympathy with this position.

    The trouble is that many reception children would default to whole language or mixed methods either by their own devices or through parents and practitioners.

    Before synthetic phonics was mixed methods and whole language. Were any of these Open Eye campaigners making a fuss about early literacy when the mixed methods was the official diet of the children?

    Not to my knowledge!
     
  7. Also, from my experience, many children look forward to strting school BECAUSE they know they are going to learn to read! After 5 terms in Nursery, many are ready for this.
     
  8. Msz - I am truly getting confused, although as someone who merely picks up the pieces of mal-instruction, default guessing etc. for children age 6-12 I can only view the 'whole picture' and the ideological resistance to teaching the alphabet code, rather than see the picture from reception teaching.

    An antithesis to any logical teaching of the alphabetic code runs right through the Education Establishment (and Steiner schools/Richard House do not believe in teaching phonics/alphabet code, even at the delayed age of 7. What is their solution? What does the history of 40 years of failure tell them? What do the struggles of those Steiner school pupils tell them?).
    In the ILEA where my children grew up there were many Plowden -led, child -led, open classes, developmentally 'sensitive' teachers - yet there were thousands of children left semi-literate. Why?

    Most teacher training colleges are antipathetic to any understanding and therefore any training in alphabetic code awareness and how to teach children to read.

    The signatories to Open Eye have not produced a shred of evidence to show how they would teach the struggling 20% and I've been looking for 5 years or so.

    They have conflated the big bad wolf of teaching children to read with the freedom of play-based curriculum. Why?
     
  9. I think we would all be behind the Open Eye campaign if Richard House stopped giving out media soundbites about reading. Personally I support the campaign from all the info Msz has given (thanks) and the objectives of the campaign.

    I understand that many of the signatories do not support phonics in Reception, but unless that is an objective of the campaign (which they claim it isn't) - stop mentioning it!!!!!! Every article seems to have some quote about it, and inevitably this is what makes good headlines.
     
  10. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    "146 | Posted by: PiggySue at 07 Dec 2007 21:54
    Also, from my experience, many children look forward to strting school BECAUSE they know they are going to learn to read! After 5 terms in Nursery, many are ready for this."


    I agree children look forward to starting "big" school as my class call it but EYFS isn't about children starting school, we already have CGFS.
    EYFS is a statutory curriculum from BIRTH.
    CGFS already covers a period which isn't compulsory for most children, but in 2008 EYFS will cover tiny babies if they are left with a childminder or at a day nursery surely that isn't acceptable?
     
  11. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Woodpecker as a reception teacher I have always taught my children to read using phonics and certainly believe that phonics knowledge is an invaluable tool for children beginning to read and write BUT with or without EYFS I will be free to continue to teach my class phonics. Which is why I continue to say these are two separate issues which have become entangled and are unfortunately camouflaging the fact that in 2008 we will have a statutory curriculum for babies!
     
  12. 151

    Thanks Msz- at last a soundbite which gets to the heart of the matter of the original petition!

    So the SP debate although no less important is a spin that has been put on it ?
     
  13. JEH

    JEH New commenter

    Whilst attending training for EYFS I raised questions about who wrote the FS profile, why the CLL, Maths and PSE areas have so many more strands to them than the Physical, K and U and Creative (when all areas are described as "equally important"!) and whether anyone actually believes that the scale points for CLL and Maths represent a similar level of achievement? (For instance, point 5 CLL Writing: "Holds a pencil effectively to form recognisable letters, most of which are correctly formed" does not ,in my opinion, equate with point 5 Maths: "Recognises numerals 1 to 9". Similarly, point 7 CLL Writing: " Uses phonic knowledge to write simple regular words and make phonetically plausible attempts at more complex words" is nowhere near the same level as point 7 Maths: "Orders numbers, up to 10". Revisit the Profile if you need to, and you will find many more discrepancies!) We are constantly being told that pupils are not making the required progress in CLL, especially Writing, but surely it is the Profiles that are badly designed that makes it look this way, rather than our children's inadequacies?
    Oh yes (getting back to the training!) our training providers, all county Early Years Advisors, could not answer my questions.

     
  14. 152 re training

    In my borough, I get the impression that the LEA advisors are confusing the statutory components of the EYFS with the guidance components.

    There appears to be no LEA training available locally on EYFS itself.

    LEA advisors just do their termly visits to PVI settings and give constructive criticisms but sometimes they have got the legislation twisted themselves.


     
  15. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I did some training with Margaret Edgington re EYFS and her advice was to follow the thin statutory guidance and throw away the thick book with the scary grids and even scarier children.


    As the website states the people involved hold different opinions about synthetic phonics. Sue Palmer for example has produced Phonix, http://www.philipandtacey.co.uk/spsyntheticphonics.htm which doesn't seen to me to make her anti phonics.
    What those involved in the campaign share is the belief that EYFS should not become statutory.
     
  16. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

  17. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    I am intrigued that Open Eye did not raise objections when we were forced to meld the objectives of the Literacy and Numeracy Strategy with the SS Guidance for Early Learning Goals and with target setting and increased Pace as in ISP pressure, whislt fighting to get enough synthetic phonics into the mix. Some of us have had a really Poo time and have done so for a while, so what is wrong with EYFS? I see nothing that would stop them from following their theories of early learning, in fact, they could use the arguments of research to state they are clear about their philosophy of learning which is one of the success factors identified throughout all accepted early years research ( a practitioner who can explain their philosophy)
     
  18. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I'm not sure when we were forced to meld the Literacy and Numeracy strategy with CGFS (I missed that one ~ neither are statutory) we don't target set in FS either.
     
  19. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    Aha
    you have not met ISP
     
  20. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Met it but luckily doesn't fit our school ethos.
     

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