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Breadth and balance: the essential elements of a recovery curriculum

Blog Editor, IOE Digital3 September 2020

Dominic Wyse.

Government guidance for schools reopening this month originally suggested that national curriculum subjects could be dropped in order to focus on key areas such as phonics. In the latest welcome U-turn, the guidance now says that “the curriculum remains broad and ambitious”. But at the same time it notes that “Substantial modification to the curriculum may be needed at the start of the year, so teaching time should be prioritised to address significant gaps in pupils’ knowledge with the aim of returning to the school’s normal curriculum content by no later than summer term 2021,” and goes on to give details.

The key question is, will the guidance’s emphasis on aspects such as “disapplication”, “the essentials”, and “phonics” lead to some subjects in the curriculum being neglected? The history of governments’ national curriculum reform in England suggests this will be the case.

The guidance continues, “For pupils in Reception, teachers should also assess and address gaps in language, early reading and mathematics, particularly ensuring children’s acquisition of phonic knowledge and extending their vocabulary. Settings should follow updates to the EYFS [Early Years Foundation Stage] disapplication guidance.”

And, “For pupils in key stages 1 and 2, school leaders are expected to prioritise identifying gaps and re-establish good progress in the (more…)

Ending a pernicious split: how to get beyond childcare as a commodity to education as every child’s right

Blog Editor, IOE Digital6 August 2020

Peter Moss.

Early childhood services in England need to be transformed. The split between childcare and education, firmly embedded in our deeply flawed system, is one of the key problems. The solution is to stop focusing on childcare and reform our early childhood provision as an education service.

This is a central argument of a new book I have edited with Claire Cameron, with contributions from academics at or associated with UCL Institute of Education.

After the second world war England’s early childhood services suffered policy neglect for decades and the split between ‘daycare’ services (under health) and school-based services (under education) was ignored. Then the 1997 election brought landmark change. Early childhood became a New Labour government priority, followed by a start on integration. All services came under education and a common system of regulation (Ofsted and the Early Years Foundation Stage) was implemented.

But integration stalled before the difficult bits were tackled. Services remained fragmented, with (more…)

Covid-19 and early years education and care: not the time for baseline assessment

Blog Editor, IOE Digital25 June 2020

Guy Roberts-Holmes, Siew Fung Lee and Diana Sousa.

The Covid-19 crisis means that young children have had prolonged absence from nurseries, and lost the chance to interact with their peers.  As Shadow Schools Minister Margaret Greenwood has told the Government, ‘Some will have lost parents, grandparents or other family members, while others will have simply struggled, like millions of others across the UK, with living in lockdown, unable to play with their friends’.

This means that early years teachers and care workers need to focus even more than usual on children’s well-being and mental health. We argue that the DFE’s latest iteration of Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) is an unnecessary distraction at a time like this.

Fortunately, the DFE has taken on board our concerns and those of others and has just announced that the RBA’s introduction is to be postponed for a year.

As many parents, teachers and children have experienced, home learning is no easy substitute for socially inclusive and participatory (more…)

What should teachers be prepared for when young children return after lockdown: lessons from China and elsewhere

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 May 2020

Yuwei Xu and Clare Brooks. 

With the outbreak of COVID-19 globally, school closures and online education have become shared  experiences for children, teachers, and parents around the world. As China emerges from lockdown, schools are preparing for re-opening.

National guidelines, issued by the People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of Education, on COVID-19 prevention and control at all school levels, focus on medical suggestions, physical health and hygiene. However, teachers everywhere are concerned about the mental and social aspects of children’s returning to schools. In this blog, drawing on relevant research from China and elsewhere, we summarize some of the major considerations for young children’s post-COVID-19 psychological and social readiness. (more…)

Education in quarantine: what can we learn from early childhood educators in China?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital7 April 2020

Jie Gao and Clare Brooks.

While we are marching towards the third week of lockdown in the UK, Chinese early childhood practitioners are busy preparing for the re-opening of kindergartens after more than two months of quarantine. We asked some of them to share their experiences and lessons learnt during quarantine. We also sought out articles written by Chinese Early Years experts for supporting practitioners and parents in such an unprecedented situation. Their advice is underlined.

Acknowledge the challenges

At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Chinese schools were on holiday for the Spring Festival. When the country went into lockdown, the school starting date was postponed indefinitely. Just like in other places around the world, Chinese kindergarten teachers had to support parents in educating and caring for young children at home.

For Chinese early years teachers this involved new responsibilities, including: (more…)

Mind the gap: will home learning reinforce inequality and what can we do about it?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital2 April 2020

AnnieSpratt_Homeschool2.png

Clare Brooks, Eleanor Kitto and Carole Scott.

In the first of two blog posts on home learning and young children in these extraordinary times, we highlighted how clear and practical research evidence can help schools and parents find principles to guide them during the closure of schools and early years settings.

The Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) project, for example, shows what types of child-adult interactions help learning and demonstrates the tremendous importance of children’s home learning environments.

We should also consider that a period of learning at home could reinforce inequalities between children, and that months away from school could mean that emerging learning problems are missed by professionals.

Those from homes (more…)

Educating young children at home: key lessons from research

Blog Editor, IOE Digital1 April 2020

Clare Brooks, Eleanor Kitto and Carole Scott.

The closure of schools and early years settings to all except for the children of key workers will have a profound impact on all parents, particularly those with young children. 

Without adequate data as to how schools and settings are responding, and in particular how they are planning to support families with children who are now mainly kept at home, it is nearly impossible to say what the impact will be on children and their achievement. 

However, the findings of the large-scale and highly detailed Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) project do provide some valuable insights into the importance of early experiences which suggest what the impact on young children could (more…)

The early years – moving beyond ‘splashes of colour here and there’

Blog Editor, IOE Digital26 June 2019

IOE Events.

Our latest IOE debate looked at the start of the educational journey – the early years. What would we need to do in order to secure world-leading early years provision? The answer from our panel is one that arguably applies across the different phases of our education system: we already have world-leading provision, but that’s often in spite of government policy, and is yet to be enjoyed across all provision.

What, then, should be done with government early years policy, and how can we build a world-leading early years sector, not just a scattering of world-leading provision? To answer those questions we were delighted to welcome: Jan Dubiel, early childhood education consultant; June O’Sullivan MBE, Chief Executive at the London Early Years Foundation; Helen Ward, reporter on early years and primary education at The TES; and Dominic Wyse, Professor in Early Childhood and Primary Education, UCL Institute of Education.

So, where is this world-leading provision? According to our panel, (more…)

Baseline assessment: will early childhood education be further commercialised?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital2 April 2019

Guy Roberts-Holmes. 

Last month the Department for Education (DfE) invited primary schools to volunteer to take part in the national Reception Baseline Assessment 2 (RBA2) test pilot planned for September 2019. If successful, it will be made statutory for all primary schools in 2020.

The DfE states that RBA2’s purpose is to provide a snapshot starting point for a measure to assess the progress of the cohort as a whole, from where pupils are when they arrive at reception class aged 4 to the end of primary school in Year 6, aged 11.

This is not the English Government’s first attempt at a national Baseline Assessment test for four-year-olds. That was in 2016, when it was scrapped  as a performance measure (more…)

Reception baseline assessment: dangerous, inappropriate and flawed data

Blog Editor, IOE Digital15 September 2017

Alice Bradbury and Guy Roberts-Holmes. 
In its response to the consultation document Primary Assessment in England  the Government announced its intention to make baseline assessment statutory (along with the existing EYFS Profile) from Autumn 2020. Justine Greening’s Ministerial forward states that the Reception Baseline Assessment ‘must produce data that is reliable and trusted’.
However our research into the 2015 Reception Baseline Assessment, which involved interviewing Reception teachers and a nationwide survey of teachers, found that the data it produced were unreliable and not trustworthy. Even with a newly introduced cohort level analysis we contend that Reception Baseline Assessment will still produce inappropriate, flawed and inaccurate data.
This announcement follows the failed policy of Reception Baseline Assessment, introduced (more…)