Memorandum from the National Association
for Primary Education (NAPE) (EY 09)
Whilst the Association is in favour of QCA's
learning goals and welcomes the QCA publication, it also appreciates
that QCA regards this as a starting point for further debate,
discussion and refinement.
The publication lays down significant markers
that provide a continuum of learning for children. It recognises,
and we must continue to recognise, that parents are children's
first educators and have a major influence on subsequent learning
patterns and attitudes.
This wealth of skills, knowledge and experience
should be recognised by schools and a continuing, effective, active
partnership and dialogue fostered between the Home and the School.
2. THE WAY
NAPE regards play as an essential tool for learning
and, whilst welcoming the reference to play in the QCA document,
considers it important to extend this area.
There is insufficient recognition of the value
of play in promoting children's learning. A teaching programme
based upon curriculum goals is not appropriate for early childhood.
Direct instruction must not impinge too much
on the early years curriculum and so prevent spontaneity.
Mathematicsin the QCA document, reference
is made to specific learning goals without addressing a few fundamental
issuesie the acknowledgement that, as our world is three
dimensional, this provides an appropriate starting point for work
on Space and Shape; and the importance of developing the concept
of conservation of numbers 0-10 rather than being too prescriptivealso
the value, place and understanding of zero within the number system.
LiteracyNAPE is concerned that over prescription narrows
and constrains the professional's expertise and a child's diverse
It is to be hoped that the National Literacy
Strategy will not restrict and narrow the development of children's
NAPE welcomes QCA's recognition that appropriately
trained and qualified staff are essential for all early years
setting and that the ratio of adult/child needs to reflect the
wide developmental stages of young children.
All staff should have access to opportunities
for continuous training and updating of knowledge.
4. QUALITY OF
NAPE recognises that Baseline Assessment provides
teachers with information for planning learning goals for individual
children, but believe that this should be a collaborative exercise
between parents and teachers, followed by periods of observation,
and that frequent liaison opportunities should be created.
Good quality observational assessments should
concern the whole child, taking into consideration feelings, attitudes
and the process through which a child learns and develops. This
should be shared with parents and parental contribution valued.
Assessment evidence provides a basis for planning
and addressing individual children's needs and for supporting
and fostering their learning potential.
Care must be taken that the definition of a
distinct Foundation Stage of education does not have an adverse
effect upon subsequent primary education. While it is no doubt
inevitable that the provision of education is divided into distinct
stages it must not be assumed that children fit neatly into stages.
Growth, development and learning are continuous and evolutionary,
there are seldom sudden changes in the children themselves. A
division between the Foundation and the primary stages would be
as harmful as the present Primary/Secondary divide.
5. FORMAL SCHOOLING
It is important to preserve parental choice
with regard to provision of under-fives. A national curriculum
for children as young as three is envisaged in the Government's
proposals. This must lead to a statutory requirement of attendance
at school. NAPE believes that families must be able to choose
part-time or full-time nursery education or, it is judged to be
in the best interests of the child, education within the home.
Diversity of opportunity before the child enters
formal schooling is to be encouraged. There is a danger that the
wrong message might be conveyed to parents. They should not be
made to feel guilty if children are engaged for a disproportionate
amount of the time in "free play".
National Association for Primary Education (NAPE)