Memorandum from Devon County Council Curriculum
Services (EY 58)
1. Within the "Forward and Principles"
for early years education, it is surprising that no consideration
has been given to adopting the United Nations Convention on the
Rights of the Child, Article 31. There seems to be an undue emphasis
on identifying disadvantages and early failure. Whilst needing
to recognise and support children in those circumstances, it is
important that the philosophy of children being rich in potential
and capable of making significant contribution as an individual
or within a group should not be under estimated.
2. Early years education is a complementary
role alongside that of parents. It is a role that needs to be
developed as a mutual responsibility for the benefit of the young
child who will eventually make their own contribution to society.
The development of self confidence, personal growth, belief in
themselves and in the people around them will equip the young
child with the appropriate attitudes towards learning for life,
enthusiasm, motivation, commitment and trust.
3. It is good to have the principles, aims
for the foundation stage so clearly stated, but important to recognise
that the principles and aims can only be achieved if the early
has the appropriate trained adult
ratio to the number of children;
that the environment indoor and outdoor
is appropriate in space with access to quality resources, which
can be retrieved by children;
that "time" is used in
a supportive way recognising the childrens developmental stage
of learningthe need to rest from activities, to have opportunity
to move freely in a safe secure space, indoor/outdoor;
that the activities are flexible,
so that children can respond to them in a way that is conducive
to their individual learning patterns;
that adults are trained observers,
so that they can recognise and respond to the developmental needs
of the children to maximise their learning potential.
4. Play is a child's work. It is good to
see it clearly visible and underpinning the features of good practice
in the early years. It would also be beneficial to pursue the
need for in-service training with parentsto encourage parents
to understand the philosophy of play and encourage parents to
support children's play in perhaps a more structured, creative
challenging way than that which is advertised by TV or department
5. The diverse needs of children need to
be supported in a constructive way. For example at present pre-school
children are supported in pre-school settings by portage workers.
The support is discontinued when the pre-school child is admitted
to school. The support should continue across the settings.
6. Special educational needs and disabilities,
inclusive education is paramount, but it must be supported by
appropriate resources for the mutual benefit of themselves and
other children. The parents must be part of the process, so that
they have a complementary role to their children's learning and
understanding of the needs of their child.
7. It is reassuring to see the Early Learning
Goals are seen as areas of experience, which cross the curriculum
boundaries. Hopefully goals will not be seen as an end in themselves.
The presentation of the document is much more user friendly and
will lead to a more professional interpretation of matching the
educational needs for young children. They clearly demonstrate
importance of persona, social and
emotional development underpinning every area of experience;
the importance of language and giving
the children the confidence to speak, listen and interpret literacy
in its widest sense;
mathematical development being seen
as investigative, explanational activities enabling the curiosity
of the child to be instrumental in their learning;
knowledge and understanding of the
world based on first hand experience with adults alongside the
child, supporting and extending the child's learning in a wealth
physical developmentthe need
for the child to be active in space and with a range of apparatus
and different opportunities;
creative developmenta rich
environment in which creativity and expressiveness are valued,
resources from different culturesactivities which are imaginative
8. Young children need to be seen as persons
in their own right, to be actively listened to, empowered to contribute
ideas, hypothesise, predict and to ask critical questions of themselves
9. Children need the opportunity to take
and hold responsibility, to be independent and interdependent
and to recognise the important role they play in their family
and wider social setting of the Early Years Environment. Early
Years Practitioners need to provide the permitting circumstances
which enable young children to learn in a creative challenging
way which does not either undermine their individuality or their
developmental stage of being. Early Years Practitioners need to
be receptive to the young child's needs, to establish the relationships
and attitudes which encourage and nurture mutual trust and respect.
Strong enough to counter any uncertainty or diversity and subtle
enough to create a climate of learning for both adult and child
alike. At any one time an Early Years Practitioner is an enabler,
facilitator, craftsman, creator, mentor, friend, investigator,
explorer, scientist, builder, story teller, dramatist, mathematician,
arbitrator, interpreter, co-constructor of learning, reflecting
the "Hundred Languages of Children" and celebrating
the professional integrity of the Early Years Practitioner.
10. The role of anyone having responsibility
for, or working with young children, is one of great significance
and value. To be an advocate for young children is to hold a huge
responsibility for society in general, and this needs to be recognised
by the whole of society.
11. The culture within any early years environment
needs to be one built on positive attitudes and relationships
between all involved in the process. Early years practitioners
need to provide the condition for learning, so that the young
child can be an active learner and within the opportunities provided,
explore possibilities and make meaning from problem solving. Children
learn naturally through first hand experiences, by discovery,
curiosity, working through structured play situations, having
the opportunity to be inventive, creative and being allowed to
make mistakes. The practitioner increases the possibility of learning
taking place through close observations of children's play activities
and interactive dialogue with the children.
12. The practitioner needs to establish
a climate for learning, so that child and adult are part of the
process together. The teaching is such, that learning can take
place. Teaching goes alongside the children's learning. The practitioner
compliments the child's individual learning, by suggesting ideas
or solutions to support or extend the learning that is taking
place. Children need to be empowered to believe that they can
succeed, so that they become confident learners. The environment
to support young children's learning, must have appropriate resources
accessible and displayed in such a way that children can manage
and use them as they wish. Young children need to feel instrumental
in the learning process and have ownership and accountability
over the activity being explored or investigated.
13. Young children are active learners.
They need space indoors and outdoors for physical activity to
complement their developmental stage of learning. At any one time
the learning will be covering aspects of the Foundation Curriculum
or reflecting elements of the Early Learning Goals according to
the individual child themselves, aptitude, achievement, talent
14. The learning environment needs to reflect
the opportunities on offer, so that the children can select, choose,
within other activities of the planned curriculum. There needs
to be a wider range and variety of equipment to support their
varying interests, stages of development and previous experiences.
There has to be a balance between activities so that natural rhythms
are kept and encourage children to make connections between learning
experiences. Children need opportunities to think, or talk, to
explore, to take risk and test out with themselves in a safe secure
environment. Every emphasise should be given to children to learn
through first hand experiences (processes rather than products).
A play based curriculum which allows children to be actively engaged
in their learning, to ask the questions, to find the problem to
try out ideas, consolidate knowledge and make new understanding,
maximises on the learning processes.
15. An educational experience which allows
children and adults to co-construct the learning and teaching,
so that together they plan, communicate and share ideas, offers
a rich potential for the teacher and the learner as one.
16. Early years practitioners need to be
committed "professionals" who understand the developmental
stage of the children, emotionally, physically, socially and intellectually.
Those working within early education need to recognise and value
the importance of these foundation years. They need to understand
about child development, the complexities of learning and the
craft of teaching. They need to be aware of the importance of
interpersonal skills, working relationships within the Early Years
team, parents, other agencies within the community. They need
to be enthusiastic and advocates of Early Years, recognising the
uniqueness of the foundation years of learning. They need to recognise
the important role they play in taking young children's learning
and development forward. They need to be researchers within their
environment, able to reflect, think, observe, present practice
and contribute to developing ideas, policies and practice for
the benefit of the children.
17. Early years training is an essential
requisite for an early years practitioner. A range of training
qualifications are available to support early years. There needs
to be appropriate recognition given to the responsibility of the
post, depending on the nature of the role in management and organisational
terms. There should be appropriate recognition given in financial
terms. Within settings there are a range of constraints and demands
on the practitioners, which need to be recognised.
18. Assessment of quality should be ideally
done through "Self Assessment" and "Self Evaluation"
a continuous review, with all concerned. Overall accountability
given to the Management Group/Governing Body through the leadership
of the named Early Years Manager/Head of the Early Years Organisation,
with the support of recognised LEA facilitators.
19. The young children themselves should
be involved in reviewing their work, planning what they are going
to do, what did they achieve, what did they discover. There should
a network of support and training alongside colleagues in neighbouring
"cluster groups" local training organisations through
LEA professional development and National Early Years networks,
ie Early Education.
20. In line with our European Neighbours
formal schooling should begin when a child is six years old. The
foundation stage could then really establish the building blocks
to complement this crucial development stage for life long learning.
Devon County Council Curriculum Services