The Government are greatly reducing the red tape for teachers in nursery and reception classes from September. The Early Years Foundation Stage is the term for what children under the age of five should learn. At the moment there are 69 early learning goals – 117 tick boxes against which children are assessed. What sort of madness is that?
Following recommendations from Dame Clare Tickell the curriculum has been halved to 30 pages and the 69 early learning goals reduced to 17. This doesn't mean it has been made softer. On the contrary it has become more challenging in terms of substance. For instance children will be expected to be able to count to 20 by the age of five rather than count to 10 as was the previous goal. But the process is being streamlined. Teachers will be released to spend more time teaching than filling in forms to the most ludicrous level of detail.
The Government new Statutory Framework says:
Assessment should not entail prolonged breaks from interaction with children, nor require excessive paperwork. Paperwork should be limited to that which is absolutely necessary to promote children’s successful learning and development. Parents and/or carers should be kept up-to-date with their child’s progress and development. Practitioners should address any learning and development needs in partnership with parents and/or carers, and any relevant professionals.
The Pre School Learning Alliance has welcomed the reduction in bureaucracy.
There will also be a greater emphasis on involving and informing parents. These include "progress checks" for two and three-year-olds to identify earlier if special help is needed. Particular attention is given to children who don't speak English at home.
There is a clear message on the importance of phonics.
To what extent should children be able to read and write by the age of five?
The Framework says:
Reading: children read and understand simple sentences. They use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately. They also read some common irregular words. They
demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read.
Writing: children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.
This is another area where the Education Secretary Michael Gove is doing a fantastic job.