EYFS Learning and Development Goals – our government’s big mistake

The Mid-Year planner I’ve placed on our living room wall reminds me that the start of the autumn term is less than three weeks away. It’s a crucial time for parents and children. Lots to organise.

My parenting style includes the realisation that ‘mummy makes mistakes’. In fact I make sure my daughter knows that human beings are fallible and even tell her that ‘everyone makes mistakes sometimes’ – parents, teachers, schools and everyone else too. I make sure she knows ‘everyone is naughty sometimes’ – children, grown ups…and that people have the potential to be good – but sometimes they tell fibs.

I do this because I want my daughter to have a realistic (but not negative) view of the world. I want to keep her safe. I want her to value learning and education (which she does). At the same time, if she encounters poor educational practice – I want to help her recognise it for what it is.

All these issues: (truth, lies, practice, human mistakes) are relevant to any discussion of the Early Years Foundation Stage. Let me explain:

As parents, child-minders and early years practitioners – I believe the problem we have got (put very simply), is that our government has made a huge and very serious mistake with it’s early years education policy.

If you’ve watched the Open Eye video in the previous post, you will know by now that much of the Early Years Foundation Stage scheme is seen as sensible. Praise where praise is due.

 However, there are well-founded criticisms of the Learning and Development Goals elements of the EYFS . Many long-standing early years practitioners have gone so far to say that there is no research which advocates or supports the introduction of the Learning and Development Goals as a statutory requirement.   They feel the goals should remain a recommendation.

Nevertheless, the government and education authorities insist the learning goals remain a statutory requirement. It is law. This decision affects us all in lots of different, and I believe profoundly negative ways.

The government is effectively making a huge mistake. Instead of admitting this and engaging in reflective practice to put it right at once (as a good teacher would do) – I believe it is now colluding with local authorities and schools in an attempt to convince people it is doing the right thing. Backtracking. Doing what I do, I’m pretty certain I recognise ‘spin’ when I see it.

Why am I talking about ‘collusion’? There are many reasons. It is not in our government’s interest to admit that a plan and a policy they have spent a great deal of time developing and funding (with considerable attention from the media) is  in fact,  a mistake. But that’s exactly what concerned parents need them to do.

 And we need them to do it fast. As parents, we’re acutely aware that our children’s well-being is at stake. Teachers and early years practictioners are caught up in our government’s mistake. Some have been vocal about their criticisms. Some are struggling along with something they believe is fundamentally wrong, but some are not saying anything – either because they’ve swallowed government propaganda, or because they know we’re in the middle of a recession and they want to hang on to their jobs and avoid upsetting the bosses.

But what about our children? All this doesn’t change the mistake the government is making or the gravity of it. And it doesn’t change the lies. I’ll be continuing to air these issues as often as I can on this blog. Please tell your friends and pass on the URL.


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