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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. Hi, all

    Really sorry I haven't been able to keep up with this thread, but I thought you might like to know that the Open EYE petition is online at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/OpenEYE/.

    As one of the group involved with framing the petition, I've made a point of taking account of the concerns raised here. No mention is made of synthetic phonics (not that anyone suggested it should be - it REALLY isn't the issue!!!). We've tried to keep it simple and to the point, focusing on the four issues of potential disadvantage to children, lack of choice for parents, burden on practitioners, and the fact that according to recent evidence government intervention in education doesn't seem to be working.

    I hope even those who have raised concerns about the campaign or individuals involved with it will be able to sign.

    Merry Christmas, one and all!
  2. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Can I also point people to an explanation of the campaigns aims in Nursery World.
  3. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    There are almost 500 signatures on the petition after only two days so please take a look and sign if you agree with the aims.
  4. Unfortunately, as much as I would like to sign, I am unable to sign because of the anti-literacy position taken by key players in the Open Eye campaign.

    Although I really appreciate that some attempt has been made to remove references to synthetic phonics, nevertheless, these were key to the launch of the campaign and there are still signs of an anti-literacy stance before the age of seven including the inference that this damages some children in the long term. It is specifically whole language and mixed methods teaching which may damage children in the long term - and these details of the reading debate DO matter where sweeping statements are made.

    References to the effectiveness of teaching on the continent relating to teaching reading from a later age are not in line with my understanding of the teaching of reading. My understanding is that it is not so much the age that counts as the method of teaching reading IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE which makes all the difference.

    It's not that I want to force-feed synthetic phonics teaching in the Reception class - I certainly don't. But I feel unable to sign up to anything where my name could be linked with the anti-early-literacy campaign which is part and parcel of the views of the main campaigners at least.
  5. Debbie, I'm sorry you feel that way. Signing the petition does not have to signify a gesture of support for Open EYE per se; only agreement with the petition. From what you have said I'd have thought you'd be able to sign without any compromise to your integrity at all.

    The one sticking point, I can see, is point one - that the EYFS may cause developmental harm. But since you clearly believe that it IS harmful to teach children to read by mixed methods, for instance, and since the EYFS applies to all who work with young children, including staff not trained in synthetic phonics or even as teachers at all (and since the legal framework itself doesn't specify which method must be used), I'd have thought you'd be in agreement that the prescriptive nature of the legislation - ie. that staff MUST extend children's reading and writing - will mean that some, probably many, children will be taught in a way that you would consider harmful before they even reach school.

    I hope you'll reconsider. Open EYE isn't about the campaigners; it's about the children.

    Best wishes, and merry Christmas to you.
  6. "Open EYE isn't about the campaigners; it's about the children."

    The trouble is with the Open Eye campaign that it isn't just about 'the children'. It IS very much about the views of the campaigners!

    Had the campaign been launched with a much simpler theme of objection to an official early years pre-school curriculum being made statutory - then I, and others, could have total sympathy and support the campaign wholeheartedly.

    The waters have been truly muddied, however, by the beliefs of some of the main proponents of the campaign - for example, the beliefs of those supporting Steiner schools and the beliefs of those who suggest teaching reading is 'formal' and this should not take place until the age of 7 with the examples given of practice in some European countries.

    The issue of teaching reading too early, with digs at synthetic phonics in particular, exists already in the Open Eye literature and in statements by some of the main Open Eye campaigners.

    If the campaigners wish to embrace people like myself who ARE against the EYFS becoming statutory, then they need to - equally openly - state that they never intended to launch the campaign to look like an attack on synthetic phonics.

    Visiting Author - you certainly have a very caring manner and seem interested in embracing all people in this campaign. Are you able to say who you are or do you wish to remain anonymous?

  7. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Debbie the campaign site already states

    "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."
  8. If I was secure in the knowledge that once children start to be taught to read, say from year one, that they would be guaranteed a good synthetic phonics programme (blending for reading and segmenting for spelling) which continues seamlessly into a systematic spelling programme until the child can read and spell well, then I would not need to be so cautious.

    As things stand, intervention programmes like the mixed methods Reading Recovery, which start as early as year one and promote the guessing reading strategies, are heavily championed by people with political power and people with educational power and people with money.

    I would have no problem with the teaching of reading beginning in a more structured way from year one if there were other guarantees about the content of teaching for all the children - without the fear of continued guessing strategies and expecting children to read books which include alphabetic code knowledge which is beyond them.

    Intervention of the Reading Recovery type kicks in for so many children before the children have had a proper chance to mature, settle, grasp the English spoken language in some cases - and this adds to the dilemma. Possibly their reading delay may be contributed to because they were expected to make too many advances from too young an age (or state of maturity).

    I also have concerns for the apparent ethos of some campaigners who seem to consider that teaching children intellectually is somehow bad for them. I cannot sign up to that.

    When I look at the growing abilities and understanding of my granddaughter who is not yet two, I cannot imagine how you could hold back on teaching/telling her all sorts of wide and wonderful information. Would this be considered damaging and who defines which concepts are inappropriately beyond her age and intellect? Who decides that learning to read (even where children might do this exceedingly readily) is bad for them 'spiritually' or in any other way?

    What amazes me is that people - anyone - considers it appropriate to be approaching religious education and worship in pre-schools - or even infant schools.

    If parents wish to bring up their children in a particular religion with particular traditions and views, then arguably that is their entitlement. I have great difficulty, however, accepting that this is the role of the State. I also have great scepticism that teachers and carers are equipped well-enough - or are comfortable enough - to take on the role of addressing religion with pre-schoolers and infant children.

    So am I alone in these views? I doubt it.

    But people, like sheep, follow what someone 'else' deems that they should teach without opening up full debate and challenging these issues.

    It seems to me that for the Early Years Foundation Stage framework to become statutory impinges on the personal views, ethos, nature of many people's understanding of appropriate childhood etc. - exacerbated by the notion that we should teach children to read by an evidence-based method when this is abhorent to the Steiner spiritual principles (and other people's principles). UNFORTUNATELY, this Steiner view has predominated in the opening statements and letters and therefore skewed the justifiable broader worries of the EYFS becoming statutory.

    But if you read various responses from the public domain forums, you will find that there are people who are very happy for their children to be taught to read at an early age and who boast that they, the parents, have taught their children to read even before attending pre-school. This is surely an inevitable consequence of the Open Eye campaign bringing the teaching of reading into the debate at all.

    I am suggesting, therefore, that there is not a clear concensus about this issue - but also that there are other issues of importance which are not addressed (such as religious education and worship for pre-schoolers with anyone else but the parents).

    It is such a shame that the Open Eye campaign did not stick ONLY to the issues of the EYFS framework being made statutory (which is ludicrous in a so-called liberal and democratic society - clearly we are not as free as we would like to think and perhaps are becoming less so). There may well be a successful start to the campaign, but it is far from a well-thought-through campaign.

    What we certainly do need are wide-spread and open discussions. Too often, in the guise of bringing in legislation and guidance for the support of our children, teachers, carers, parents end up being disaffected and disillusioned - or follow it slavishly whether or not it is the best thing to do.

    The message of the story is that in this internet era we should have information available to us but then we should be free to develop conversations and make informed choices.

    The question arises as to whether our politicians and ministers REPRESENT us or do they actually just tell us what to do and then police their legislation? I find this very worrying.

    So, maybe this campaign should have been far, far broader and addressed whether the constant claims of ministers that there has been WIDE CONSULTATION are nothing more than a ploy to avoid facing the disaffection and critics.

    I sincerely hope that the Open Eye campaigners will gain audiences with the key politicians - but will people representing other views be invited to contribute to those 'conversations'?

    I look forward to developments.

  9. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

  10. debbie

    Just expand a bit for me if you have time?

    "What amazes me is that people - anyone - considers it appropriate to be approaching religious education and worship in pre-schools - or even infant schools"

    You have lost me on this one debbie. Are you saying that those who campaign for Open Eye are saying that EYFS does not allow for denominational schools come 2008. That is not so different from the guidance in the current framework is it? There has been no change has there?
  11. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    There is nothing in the Open Eye correspondence to suggest they believe that EYFS will not allow for denominational schools come 2008. I can only assume this is Debbie's own view.
  12. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

  13. Hi everyone - I hope you all had a good Christmas.

    What I meant on a previous posting about religion was that I am surprised that the teaching of reading would cause more consternation than the topic of religions for pre-schoolers.

    I am suggesting that religion is NOT an appropriate topic for pre five year olds.
  14. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    Debbie you are such a wise mortal...... I have at last, after years of towing the line on such matters of PSED and K and U come to the same conclusion, reading Parsons thread about Billy, and the Hannukah etc etc sadness....... how did we get to the place where we think we can teach emotional literacy and respect for other's beliefs through lesson plans, targets and learning objectives????

    but I have signed the petition. Thank God people are still battling even if they misunderstand our good work with synthetic phonics, for reason and humanity in early years....
  15. This is so well expressed, Nelly:

    '...how did we get to the place where we think we can teach emotional literacy and respect for other's beliefs through lesson plans, targets and learning objectives????'

    It is v. painful not signing the petition, too, but have been burnt, scorched and cindered by the lack of understanding that enabling young children to read doesn't diminish their time for imaginative development.
  16. I really would like to sign the petition, but am worried by the anti-'formal' (whatever that is supposed to mean) agenda of the campaign. Therefore, I am unable to do so. I wonder how many others would like to sign up to an anti-EYFS campaign but do not want their name associated with what could be seen as anti-phonics, anti-reading before seven.
  17. I admit that I am really pleased that so many people have signed the petition in that this has given the government a serious message of discontent to consider.

    We must get the message across to politicians that 'laws of the land' are not always the solution to bringing along the land's people.

    I have banged on about the 'teaching climate' for a long time now because that, too, has been anti 'bringing along the people'.

    Politicians describe that they 'listen' to people and purport to communicate with us. Then this is what we need to see.

    We can raise standards whilst still providing different types of settings which promote shared understanding of whatever is appropriate to local contexts.

    What we should not have forced upon us is that we all need to be the same and have the same approach to pre-school provision.

    There are commonalities of ideas that form the basis for early years settings - but you only have to look around you at your own extended families and friends to see how many and varied our ways are at bringing up our children.

    In an enlightened society, surely the way forward is education, information and cooperative persuasion at most rather than bureaucratic rule-setting, local authority policing and encapsulating the ideas of just SOME people in law for everyone.

    After all, however wide the claimed government 'consultations', it is impossible to have consulted widely enough to have achieved a formula to suit all the nation's people to be able to encapsulate this in law. Over and again we need to highlight that these are PRE school children.

  18. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    And furthermore

    I think it was a damn shame that the TES petition which we risked our necks over was disregarded... the views of the teachers actually delivering the curriculum......... and dismissed.....with a few exceptions (Debbie being one), no nationally known people, no professors, and so on, signed up, just the teachers.....we who are "weak" and responsible for low standards, de da de da....... and who just want to get on with our jobs with good ideas and committment(sp?) to ideals.....and we who knew and knew and knew how to teach reading fun to empower the young......I, nmy case keenly aware of how we have created a two tier education system where the rich can buy better and the poor get ISP.... and just when QCA are saying "throw out the old restrictive curriculum" (yes, they are) we get in early years, legislated curriculum, legislated paperwork and assessment and the infinite joy of the eprofile which as we all know, tells us little about what children will achieve in later key stages but which can effectively take up all our time and our energy and can be used to beat us up with to boot. We are in a lose lose situation folks.

    And give us a decent staffing ratio! And cleaners!

    The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. I wish.
  19. I agree - but I also think it is wonderful when the teachers themselves speak up through a forum such as this because their rationale spread of views ARE on record.

    We need to flood the TES early years forum with good conversations.

    People who tend to be silent browsers need to support those people who bother to type our views in an effort to raise the issues and express our feelings and describe our experiences.

    The more of us who do this, the more influence we have EVEN THOUGH this may not be 'officially' acknowledged.

    We could use this board far more liberally to create a 'finger on the pulse' forum. I think this early years forum, at times, has been (and needs to continue to be) one of the best discussion forums that we can have.

    Firstly, it is the actual TES forum and people in education, training for education, and politics for education, will get to know of how people view their advice and training.

    The problem is fundamentally one of lethargy and the lack of belief that we can make a difference other than through the usual political routes.

    I don't believe that this is the case. We can have ample say through this forum - and then, where necessary, use the postings as evidence for the voice of a spread of practitioners.

    It is, arguably, a disgrace on all those people with 'national names' who are now signing up for the Open Eye campaign but who did not know of, or cold-shouldered our previous petition.

    If those people did not know of our petition, it is shame on the TES that they steadfastly refused, or failed, to make it news in the hard copy of their newspaper.

    It is shame on those 'top' people if they dont, in actual fact, keep their finger on the pulse of real practitioners in the area of education (early years) of which they purport to have some exceptional expertise.

    All I can say is that you must be encouraged to keep having your say through public forums like this one - and believe that if enough of you do this, it will make a difference!

    The very fact that some people have even described that they did not feel comfortable to sign the Open Eye petition (even where they did end up signing the petition) and that other people described that they did not feel able to sign the petition (because they worried about deeper agendas etc.), is a step forward to illustrate the variety of views that exist beyond those 'experts' with their national names.

    We, too, have our own expertise and views, and we are the ones doing the doing in the settings...

    ...not just pontificating about how to provide those settings!
  20. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Not wishing to criticise the Early Years petition and those involved obvious sincerity and commitment but IMHO there were too many issues tied up in one document and it would perhaps have done better as two or more. Also it was limited in exposure to the TES. Perhaps part of the success of the Openeye campaign is that it is aimed at not just teachers but also at parents and a wider audience.
    Debbie were the "national names" made aware of the Early Years campaign?

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