Early Years Foundation Stage: Reader Feedback

Lucy Giffen replied to one of my latest posts. Thanks Lucy. She writes:

“The introduction of the EYFS is still a positive thing which will now encourage early years practitioners to work towards consistent goals. As one of the aims of the EYFS is to focus on the individual child it allows practitioners to build the differences between boys and girls into their methods of achieving said goals. Surely this is a good thing and highlights well known knowledge that different children need different activities.

It will be up to the root providers of childcare such as parents, childminders and nurseries to ensure that children start school on their way towards the Early Learning Goals and the EYFS is still in it’s infancy in these areas. Even Megan Pacey, chief executive of Early Education, said: “A year on, the EYFS is being embraced as a positive framework, with sound principles, that enables practitioners to provide education with an emphasis on learning through play.

“While many practitioners admit to having been daunted by the EYFS a year ago, our evidence shows that the majority are now embracing the principles and ways of working that the framework advocates and are seeing the benefits of being led by the child and their interests.”

I’d be interested to hear readers comments on Lucy’s views…


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jaki Parsons on August 26, 2009 at 12:57 am

    As a very experienced childminder, I do not agree with Lucy’s comments. In principle, the EYFS is a good thing. However, in practice it has turned into a monster. From a very personal perspective, I have not been in favour of the compulsary part of the EYFS. I feel it is fine for children to “aspire” to various goals, but completely wrong for children to “achieve” goals by a given age.

    What happens if they cant? Are parents/childminders/ nursery staff penalised if they fail? Do children [still younger than compulsary school attendance remember] start school with a “failure” label. Is it any wonder that we have the highest incidence of stressed out kids in Europe?

    I shared the care of a young child with English as a second language with a local Outstanding Ofsted rating Nursery. Her parents were unhappy with the care at the nursery and finally persuaded me to take her on fulltime. Her Nursery Report was a work of fiction. A selection of post it notes detailing everything she couldn’t do with little positive comments.

    The Nursery were unhappy at sharing their information with me but it eventually transpiried that they had told her mum that they couldn’t help her as no-one spoke her language. As she was barely 2.5 at this time, had lived in 3 countries, with 2 different carers, she wasn’t speaking any recognisable language.

    As was their legal right, they deferred her entrance into school until she was 5. She was now proficient in English, had superb social skills was full of confidence and was ready to move on and enjoy her schooling.

    At the end of her first week in school, I spoke to her teacher who commented on her lack of understanding of number and letters and her failure to understand basic reading skills. I did say they were not a priority in my setting but she was ready to move on to the next stage in her educational progress. Bearing in mind that she still would not be 5 at this stage.

    As I home educate, take on children of other home educators, very early reading skills are not something that is important to me. I am constantly being harrassed by my co-ordinator to get the children up to speed and whenever they are proficient in one area, I am told to record what learning steps I am utilising to move them on.

    Although Nurseries can have an “inadequate” rating from Ofsted and still claim the early years grant for the children in their care, as a childminder I have to have either an outstanding or a good to claim the grant.

    For anyone who has not had an inspection for 3 years [like me[ they have to write a business case as to why they should still be allowed to claim the grant. Some towns refuse to allow childminders to claim the EYFS and the children have to attend nursery to claimt the free childcare [15 hours per week can be a lifeline for parents on a low income.]

    It is nothing short of bullying tactics to get children into a “testing” culture at the earlierst opportunity with success or failure being metered out by largely unqualified, untrained young girls who are the mainstay of nurseries.



  2. Posted by Faith on August 20, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Response to Lucy Giffen’s comment.

    I am a teacher of some 20 years and whereas I feel positive about the four themes of the EYFS (A Unique Child, Positive Relationships, Enabling environments, Learning & Development) and am happy to use the EYFS practice guidance, I am frankly appalled by the mandatory goals set by the DCSF for the non-compulsory pre-school sector. Are we so enlightened that we can ‘require’ practitioners to get children in their care to meet goals for which many are known to be developmentally unready? Are we so knowledgeable that we can expect practitioners to have all children ‘well on the way towards the early learning goals by the time they start school?

    Much of the early years of childhood is about unconscious learning and, though learning is important, it happens quite naturally both at home and nursery if the environments are enriched with learning and developmental opportunities and where the adults involved create emotionally warm environments and put the nurturing of well-being as a prime factor.

    Lucy’s statement that early years practitioners will now be encouraged to work towards consistent goals is contrary to any concept of ‘a Unique Child’. It is also in contradiction to the EYFS claim that “children learn in different ways and at different rates”. Plus the statutory framework does not encourage practitioners it “requires them to deliver”.

    I think most early years’ practitioners and childminders welcome any positive support that helps them to provide high quality experiences related to the natural developmental stages of young children. What is a major concern is that the mandatory learning requirements are a ‘step too far’ and can only lead to children’s reports, such as described by Frances for her own child, with evidence more related to pleasing the EYFS requirements than meeting the real needs of ‘unique children’. Personally, I think we are wise to be cautious.


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