Will your child meet the Early Years Foundation Stage 69 Learning and Development Targets?

This short post doesn’t fit in to any particular category – but it’s something I wanted to put on record and share with other parents who might be reading this blog (and indeed teachers, F/friends and anyone else who may be interested in early years education). By now, I know that with a growing readership several parents at our own school will be taking in this information too. Thanks for your time everyone.

I’ve been to a few public gatherings recently where I’ve had the opportunity to speak about the sixty-nine early years foundation stage framework learning and development targets and the fact that we are the first parents in the U.K. (I believe) to have applied (and been refused) an exemption for these.

Of course after you’ve spoken about this – it’s important to be around to listen to what others have to say and engage with the reactions that people have and to answer questions.  You often learn a lot from what other people are saying. Many people (particularly grandparents I’ve met who remember some of the freedoms children used to have) are very supportive. With others it takes time to reach an understanding.

One kindly person  I met asked me with a sympathetic and genuinely caring expression on their face: “Was I concerned about my child’s ability to meet the sixty-nine targets?”. It is fair to say I didn’t understand this person’s question and I think I said that our child is a “complete star” at home and at school. And that’s really true. My sympathetic ‘friend’ in response didn’t understand my reaction in the first instance either…

After some reflection and conversation with other friends I realised that some people might actually be thinking I am an overly anxious parent (that’s a terrible label to use, I feel – but I hope readers understand it is a kind of shorthand which helps me express something important).

At the risk of being accused of too much navel-gazing –  I can honestly say I worry too much about many things (climate change, what the government is doing to education, the recession …to name just a few examples) – but I don’t worry about my child and her achievements. The reason for this is, quite simply – I have (a mother’s?) complete faith in her.

I honestly don’t care if my child wants to be a carpenter(an honourable and I believe potentially lucrative profession nowadays) or strives towards several PhD’s in later life. The main thing to me  is that my child grows up happy, loved, safe, and secure. A certain amount of money and skills will be necessary for my child to do this,  that is true. But you can’t buy true friends with money anyway, you can only buy ‘hangers-on’ as someone said to me recently.

So, I’m writing this post because it suddenly occurred to me that some people  might have gained the wrong impression from our exemptions process. Nope, as I said, there are many things that I am overly anxious about in life – the effects of the compulsory sixty-nine learning and development targets on ALL children being one of them.

  But my ‘upset’ and sorrow about the continuing existence of these targets arises from the potential damage which I believe these compulsory targets are in danger of doing to ALL children. It is true that I often encounter this sense of sorrow at my child’s school. But that’s because I have done my absolute utmost to fight the imposition of these targets and I wish there were two of me to do more. I am convinced that in just a few years politicians will be openly admitting that what they have done was ill-advised. In the meantime though, parents and children like mine have to deal with the consequences of their mistakes every single day.

It is this concern which prompts me to continue to make a stand here with this blog. The exemption application was part of that process.

  I am not alone in my concern as many early years practitioners hold similar views. The record set straight…? This is not about one particular child, this is about all children.

Please consider signing the parliamentary petition. Click on the link at the top of the page on the right.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Kim on December 4, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    For you to even feel you have to justify your right to choose and/or question the way your 4 year old is being educated underlines the whole issue. As an early years practitioner myself, it is very obvious that ‘targets’ and ‘outcomes’ have no place in the lives of young children. To have these imposed by ‘mandatory requirements’ is much more than a step too far and such a framework is not only unjustifiable but goes against everything we know about the developmental needs of such young children. These are, essentially, the need to have a strong core of self-esteem, a growing ability with social skills, a sense of inner (not outer) purpose and a developing joy in learning. Imposing goals in the early years is risky and is already giving rise to early years’ teachers and practitioners erroneously coming to conclusions about what their young charges should have achieved by the end of the year in which they turn 5. We are in danger of taking government frameworks as a blueprint for what we should expect from our children, rather than allowing children to show us what they expect from us. You are a courageous mother and I hope that more parents will come to understand your genuine motivation. For most young children, learning is not a problem so long as they feel valued and their well-being is nurtured on all levels. Learning is natural and we should provide environments which nurture this as well as providing positive role models. The rest is up to the child. (Name and address provided.F.L)

    Reply

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