Mumsnet and the Early Years Foundation Stage discussion thread

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Some have said the next election will be a ‘Mumsnet’ election. As a parent I sometimes frequent chat boards – for advice, help, support or simply for fun. Yesterday I started a thread at the social networking site Mumsnet about the parliamentary e-petition I launched recently. The text of the petition is quite simple and reads as follows:

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to change the sixty-nine compulsory Early Years Foundation Stage Learning and Development Requirements (targets applied to children from birth to five in nurseries, schools and other early years settings) to recommendations and guidelines only”.

As readers can see the first signatory on my petition was Dr. Richard House.

The subject matter of the discussion thread I’d started was actually fairly boring. The petition itself is not particularly challenging. It isn’t the first parliamentary e-petition on the subject and it won’t be the last. The downgrading of the EYFS learning and development requirements to recommendations only is by no means a radical demand. I’d thought it was something that many people could agree upon.

Not so, it seems. I’d been warned by other mums that the Mumsnet site is notorious for it’s bullying posters but even I was shocked by some of the reactions I encountered there. On the very first day, personal attacks were vicious and almost exclusively negative. I wondered why – finally coming to the conclusion that in some parenting ‘cultures’ dissent is simply not permitted. What does this say about families and the impact of the EYFS Learning and Development Goals on our educational and political culture as a whole? What does it say about parental peer pressure?

I’d suspected for a long time that many parents have swallowed government propaganda on EYFS wholesale. Someone like me who has acquired a thick skin can just about hold their own in such a debate (and fight back) but what about all those parents out there who can’t or who are struggling to understand the implications of the EYFS Learning and Development Goals?

What about parents  who have misgivings about the Learning and Development Goals, backed up by their own instincts and their own experiences with their own children?

What about the parents who are not strong enough to face such an onslaught? Those who are just too busy with coping to face it? Let me know your thoughts on this one. (And I promise not to shout you down).

To view the Mumsnet thread follow this link.

To sign the parliamentary petition go to this link.

Update 15.22 p.m.: Taking a welcome break from this Mumsnet thread now. I feel as a discourse on EYFS and early years cultural politics it speaks for itself…


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Frances Laing on December 31, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Well said, Sarah, well said.


  2. Ah, I remember now why I stopped reading the usual bunch of parenting forums… :S

    Ack, honey, I think you stood your ground well and were ridiculed largely for not being willing to engage in fantasy rather than for not answering the question! I wonder if the belief that having targets isn’t harmful since the child won’t know they are being measured (?!) is genuinely held or just an attempt to bait you?

    Children KNOW when they are being tested. Whether than is an innocent “what does this letter say?” or an actual test. From before they can talk they know when they are being expected to “perform”, when people are patronising them, and when someone wants to find out what they know. A major issue with the EYFS is simply that it validates, and enshrines in law, our adult mindset that we have the responsibility and the right to MEASURE children constantly and try to improve them to our own liking rather than accepting them as they are. Is the latter too fragmented for childcare scenarios? Well it bloody shouldn’t be (excuse my language).


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