Memorandum from The Children's Society
1.1 As a national childcare organisation,
The Children's Society welcomes the opportunity to contribute
to the inquiry by the Education Sub-committee into aspects of
early years education. We welcome the Government's initiative
to consider issues regarding the education and care of very young
Early Years Education
1.2 The Children's Society welcomes, in
principle, the Early Learning Goals and would wish to see the
"Foundation Stage" regarded as a development stage distinct
from statutory schooling.
1.3 It is vital that there should be a reversal
of the recent trends in the over-formalisation of very young children's
education and care experiences.
1.4 The Children's Society would wish to
see a child centred approach within the Foundation Stage, emphasising
the aspect of learning through play and ensuring that children's
development, at all stages, is taken into account in providing
opportunities for learning. Children should not be made to feel
a failure when they are purely developmentally not ready to achieve
1.5 The Early Learning Goals should also
prioritise children's emotional literacy, confidence and self-esteem
and should reflect an inclusive principle throughout all Early
2.1 The Children's Society would wish to
see statutory school age begin at six and the differentiation
of the Foundation Stage prior to this, including the careful management
of the transition to statutory school.
2.2 It is interesting to note that in the
recently published government document "Tomorrow's childrenThe
review of pre-schools and playgroups a summary", (page 5,
paragraph 17) it states"Parents should be able to
delay their children's entry into reception class if the child
would benefit from more time in a nursery or pre-school/playgroup.
The Government already encourages this through its code of practice
on school admissions. All parents should have access to information
to allow them to make informed choices about the children's early
education. The Government should make it clear that early entry
to school is not appropriate for all children".
2.3 In order to ensure that the Foundation
Stage is based upon the needs of the child, any Inspection and
Registration regime should have the child at the centre. OFSTED
will need to take into account the previous over-emphasis upon
target setting for young children which have, in the recent past,
been over-enthusiastically and inappropriately applied to the
3. PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT
3.1 The Children's Society would also welcome
action by the Government to ensure parental involvement in the
development of the Foundation Stage and, in particular, the introduction
and implementation of the Early Learning Goals.
We feel it is very easy for parents/carers of
children to misinterpret goals and targets, which their children
must achieve. The Children's Society would wish to see a planned,
proactive national information strategy around the Early Learning
Goals and the Foundation Stage, thus reinforcing parent's vital
role in enabling their children to develop as active learners.
4.1 The Children's Society welcomes the
initiatives from Government around the training and qualifications
framework for staff working with young children. However, we feel
it is vital that the "education" of children in the
Early Years is not seen as the prerogative of teachers. We have
concerns regarding the Government's stated intention within "Tomorrow's
children: The review of pre-schools and playgroups and the Government's
response" that all early years settings should be led by
graduates or equivalent. It is vital that early years staff are
given the opportunity to qualify and that sufficient funding is
available for this. The Children's Society would wish to see positive
action schemes to ensure that early years staff who are disabled
or from ethnic minorities are afforded opportunities to gain qualifications.
5.1 The Children's Society would wish to
see the development of the Foundation stage as a distinctive aspect
of young children's lives; by ensuring the differentiation of
this stage we would be able to ensure a safe, happy early experience
of education and care to all children based upon principles of
childcentredness and learning through play.
5.2 We also believe that the training of
all staff for this Foundation Stage would reflect the above principles
for working with very young children and that this would be reinforced
by Inspection and Registration regimes which are also childcentred.
The Children's Society