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.