Coalition government, Michael Gove and the Early Years Foundation Stage

There are advantages to being an older parent. You watch political developments with a certain, patient stoicism. Without panic. You’ve seen  (most of it in different guises) before, after all.

In our household we’ve lived through a whole lot of political history. I was in Germany for ten years and lived through the fall of the Berlin Wall. Proportional representation became second nature. As did the realisation that coalition governments make  agreements on policy  – agreements which they often choose to break. My other half was a young man in Britain when Thatcher was around. So no false hopes  about the Lib-Dem coalition there either.

As far as this blog is concerned – we want to know about the future of Early Years education. We’ve looked at the Lib Dem Manifesto and what the Lib Dems were saying about the Early Years Foundation Stage. They were talking about a ‘slimmed down’ version of the Early Years Foundation Stage – as far as proposals for reform are concerned, this could mean anything and nothing - let’s face it.

So let’s look at what Michael Gove had to say about Early Years Education in the Guardian on Tuesday. Michael answered a reader’s question:

Q. In the light of the Rose and Cambridge reviews of primary education, what do you see as the priorities for the early years?

Wendy Scott, Keswick, Cumbria

 Here is Michael’s answer: “It’s critical that children spend time before they arrive in school in a warm, attractive and inclusive environment, where they can learn through play, master social skills and prepare for formal schooling.

The central priority for the first years of primary schooling must be learning to read. Unless children have learned to read, they can’t read to learn. Which is why we will improve teacher training to provide authoritative instruction in the implementation of systematic synthetic phonics. The most detailed academic studies – in Clackmannanshire and West Dunbartonshire – show that in these two relatively disadvantaged Scottish local authorities, systematic synthetic phonics teaching effectively eliminated illiteracy. So we will do everything we can to support teachers in getting reading right so that children can then go on to enjoy a broad, balanced and wide-ranging curriculum.

Readerare you thinking what I am thinking on this one? Michael wrote: “Unless children have learned to read, they can’t read to learn”.

Where is the awareness of current international research standards (as mentioned in the previous post)? I’d like to see those “detailed academic studies – from Clackmannanshire and West Dunbartonshire”. How do these relate to Dr. Sebastian Suggate’s research, I wonder…

Is this the study Michael Gove is referring to?

http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/buildingbridges/casestudies/scottishborders.asp

And what about the hundreds of childminders who have left the profession due to the overly bureaucratic nature of the compulsory EYFS learning and development requirements?

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