Start of School. “Mummy’s new uniform”

The Sweatshirt. The Blogger. September 2009

The Sweatshirt. The Blogger. September 2009

First day of school. I’m writing this in a local Internet cafe after dropping my daughter off. It’s a short day today and a staggered start. A busy time for parents, teachers and early years practitioners.

We’d had  the kit ready for a while, Little One was fine, but I came down with a really bad tummy bug on Sunday, so didn’t know if I was going to make it. In the end I was washed out but basically  fine.  Little One was jumping about with her friends, eager to get started.

“Mummy’s new uniform” included a sweat shirt I’d had printed that reads:

“STOP STATUTORY EYFS LEARNING GOALS” 

TOO MUCH TOO SOON FOR OUR CHILDREN

and this blog URL on it: www.parentsguidetoeyfs.wordpress.com

There had been various suggestions about the slogan but in the end I settled on this one for practical purposes (I couldn’t fit too many words onto the printing template)…it’s a kind of short hand for what needs to be said, but I felt it would do the job.

Wearing the sweatshirt  felt scary but everyone at the school gate was so very supportive and friendly – without exception, particularly a gentleman I had never met before who came straight up to us and said he admired me greatly for wearing the sweatshirt. This is a short summary of what Kind Gentleman said, paraphrased – it was so busy this morning – I couldn’t repeat his exact words –  he explained he worked for a local pre-school setting and couldn’t agree more with the sentiment – up until that point the setting had felt quite isolated in their criticisms. I mentioned Open Eye (he had heard of the campaign before) and pressed a small card with my blog address into his hand. I said  as far as we knew we were the first parents in the U.K. to request an exemption. Kind Gentleman also made a point of saying he thought the current rules were having a detrimental affect on parental choice. He indicated he felt the current situation was damaging childhood. I thanked him – I was really pleased to hear someone express some support publicly. So if you’re reading this, Kind Gentleman, I hope you understand why I’m writing this blog and thanks again.

I see wearing this sweatshirt as part of a witness. In summary and drawing on our instincts and what we have read, the research  is not there to support the current EYFS Learning and Development Goals as a statutory requirement.  As I’ve described in previous posts – I believe the government is doing something here with which many childminders, parents and settings disagree. It is morally unsound.

The process of applying for an exemption has been tortuous  and unnecessarily stressful so far, and it really shouldn’t be. Like many other parents across the U.K. we rely on good quality child care in order to function as a family and to carry out paid work. The EYFS statutory Learning and Development Goals have been forced upon us and they’ve  been forced upon our child.

 So we have to do something. This blog and ‘mummy’s new uniform’ are part of that process. Like many other parents we have no recourse to alternative childcare and no way of knowing how long the exemption process might take. 

It appears the school understand and respect our views and are doing their best to support us as a family. The decision will go to the school governors in the first instance. In the latest correspondence the school have said there are “complications” with our exemption request – the local authority is ‘taking advice’ from the Department of Children, Schools and Families on the process itself.

The school has thanked us for our patience and we have thanked them  – but I cannot see that this delay is justified. If the process of exemption exists as a legal right, then local authorities and schools should be properly equipped to deal with it – within a specified time frame.

In many ways, though the whole process of exemption is irrelevant. What matters more is that the reasons and the motivation behind the government’s present (and we believe mistaken) policy – are laid bare. The people who can do that job are the committed citizens that are so important to a truly democratic society – dedicated campaigners, dedicated parents, dedicated early years practitioners and dedicated journalists.

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