Early years development measures to be scaled back

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A simpler, less bureaucratic system for assessing how young children in England are developing is to be announced.

The Early Years Foundation Stage, which currently has 69 benchmarks, will be reduced to just 17, focusing on basics like physical development and language.

The EYFS has been statutory since 2008 and sets out targets for learning and welfare for childcare providers.

But there has been criticism that it makes carers spend more time ticking boxes and less time with children.

A review of early years was commissioned by the new government in July.

It was carried out by Dame Clare Tickell, chief executive of Action for Children, who is due to publish her recommendations later today.

Dame Clare will say that the EYFS should not be scrapped altogether, because it is right to have a framework to help early years professionals make sure children are learning core life and communication skills.

But she will say that the current EYFS is “far too bureaucratic” with 69 learning goals.

Instead, she will recommend a new strategy focussing on 17 basic areas such as physical development, communication and language and understanding the world.

She will also recommend that the new EYFS be more in line with what children are learning at the age of five in school, and should build on the health and development check each child gets at two and a half years old by a health visitor.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “We hope the review looks at children’s overall readiness to go to school, including their communications, social, physical, and emotional development, and does not just focus on literacy and numeracy.

“We also want to see recommendations about what schools should do to be ready for children, including funding for better adult to child ratios, better services to support children and families, a requirement for outdoor play and greater understanding of the importance of play-based learning.

“We believe that learning should be teacher-led, the curriculum should be broad and balanced, and that nurseries and schools should work together to provide a range of services and support for children in the area.

“We are appalled that cuts to local services are putting children’s centres and other early years provision under threat.”

The government will respond in full to the recommendations in the summer when it will consult on changes to the EYFS. Changes will come into force from September 2012 at the earliest.

What’s your reaction to the review? How do you balance your time between the paperwork and care of children? Drop your comments below to join the discussion.

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20 thoughts on “Early years development measures to be scaled back

  • December 14, 2011 at 6:18 pm
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    It is all a pointless bureaucracy. Its purpose is to employ an army of inspectors, not the welfare of children. Nurseries and childminders know how to look after children, and the emphasis in pre-school should be play and socialising. How will a warehouse of documents achieve a better outcome? It is utterly insidious state interference that is not compatible with free people in a free society. We have been so blinded by state interference in every aspect of existence, and have lost the ability to think for ourselves and realise it is simply not necessary. Like I said, it employs people, at the expense of taxpayers.

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  • June 30, 2011 at 7:48 pm
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    I feel that this document is very much a working one! I am a fan of the EYFS but shrinking it can be easily managed. Paperwork is important for POA reasons but it should not take time from the children’s nursery day. If realistic as practitioners we should get allocated time to complete assessments. Although speaking from experience working full time in a very busy nursery this is a rare luxury really. I hope that this review will assist us all to carry on with clearer guidelines and ensure the quality of care.

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  • April 4, 2011 at 4:03 pm
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    At long last…..I suggested when EYFS first came about that it was too onerous on the staff and not enough emphasis on the child and their learning and understanding. It was too clumsy, bereacratic and deterred practitioners from working with the children. Many nursery nurses do not even understand what they are doing and why. As a teacher and nursery nurse I trained to work with children and develop their learning and skills and not spend hours in the staffroom or office filling in forms. I welcome this as an excellent move and one that should benefit all owrking in the childcare industry.

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  • April 4, 2011 at 9:47 am
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    At last. Us childminders can concentrate on really looking after the children and enjoying them rather than being bogged down with with paperwork and red tape. Even our inspoections had changed concentrating on paperwork rather than how we are looking after the children.

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  • April 1, 2011 at 1:42 pm
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    The review is fabulously realistic and quite refreshing! It’s great to finally have quality professionals carrying out the review, who have knowledge of the changes that need to be implemented.

    I’m pleased that the review recognises the importance and impact that quality early years practitioners have on a child’s life and that they recognise that we are the next step in partnership with the parents after a loving and nurturing home life.

    The review is not about a huge upheaval, but more about promoting quality settings and tweaking the EYFS to improve the way children develop. It is a great relief that the child has remained at the centre of our practice.

    From reviewing what we currently have, it was clear that the process needs to be made user-friendly and focussed more around the time spent with the child and family, I hope that this review can support practitioners and parents in doing this.

    Amongst other issues, the report highlights the need to amend the learning goals, to make children’s development records and achievements more relative to the required skills to support a successful life of learning and makes the EYFSP a more valuable summative assessment that can relate more clearly to the progression onto key stage 1.

    I think the coalition Government now have tough decisions to make following the recommendations, as some potentially conflict with their own ideas.

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  • March 31, 2011 at 9:42 pm
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    I feel that the amount of paperwork and not only paperwork but duplication of paperwork is extremely time consuming. I work with children full time and find myself either sitting up late into the night or using the weekend (which I feel is really my own children’s time) completing paperwork. The hours that we get paid by parents to care for their children is spent caring for their children but the paperwork that the government require us to do is being undertaken by us over and above the hours we get paid for working. Therefore all the extra time being spent on government paperwork we are undertaking for free. I feel we really should be entitled to a top up earnings paid directly from the Government for all the extra hours we put into to enable us to get paid for the extra hours being put in.

    It is an awful shame that this caring profession is loosing really good, caring, highly qualified individuals due to this fact.

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    • July 1, 2011 at 6:47 am
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      You have made an excellent point about the time we spend (often our own) so that things get done properly. A lot of practitioners with high qualifications and good organisational skills have left the job where I work currently due to the out of hours unpaid red tape.

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  • March 31, 2011 at 8:04 pm
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    I appreciate that the EYFS currently produces a lot of paperwork, but also feel that it provides guidelines for practitioners to work alongside, enables them to understand the stepping stones of each child’s unique learning and development. It states that the idea is to reduce the 69 benchmarks to 17 and concentrating on the basics like physical development and language. Surely, only by having a good understanding of all 6 areas of learning can a practitioner then focus on the physical and language development. The foundation of all learning is based on dispositions and attitudes which provide holistic skills and coping mechanims to enable a child to progress through each area of development.

    The EYFS guidelines have provided a basis to assess and evaluate next steps, enabled staff to highlight concerns and issues and provided an understanding of what a child learns from each activity and how to extend and adapt.

    Reducing paperwork is always a positive thing, but I hope this doesn’t mean reducing the knowledge and understanding for practitioners.

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  • March 31, 2011 at 4:32 pm
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    I,m a childminder, but only part time, and i only look after school age children, to fit around my other job and family, i wonder how all this will affect me in my position, as i dont know any other part-time childminders, any one got any ideas.

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  • March 31, 2011 at 11:46 am
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    I welcome the reveiws suggestion to slim down the FSPs. however there is no mention of the fact that the profile is supposed to be a summative document completed at the end of a child’s time in Reception. Development Matters are the strands practitioners should be using to assess children til the end of the summer term. These statemnets are wordy and repetitive at times and do not link easily to FSP. This is where practitioners I know find it difficult to keep on top of the paper work.

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  • March 30, 2011 at 10:42 pm
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    Over the years, I have come across many students and workers and I have been saying for a long time that staff with higher qualification have a much better understanding of children’s development and manage to cope with the high volume of paperwork, but like every-one else this takes time and at the cost of being unable to spend more time with the children.
    Although this review means less paperwork, but is it really going to be a step forward? I feel that the EYFS was the best thing that came about, I saw a drastic change in the way children play, interact with others and the language used. It would be a shame to change anything.

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  • March 30, 2011 at 7:32 pm
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    The review is good. The level of current qualifications isn’t high enough. Whilst the learning through play is good in theory the practicalities of it are not so good. There needs to be more adult lead activities not children being given a completely free rein, as when they do start school they are not fully prepared for the reality of a school day. Most parents want their child to be learning to a certain extent and the routine and structure of set times and activities is very necessary in a pre school room.

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    • November 21, 2011 at 11:29 pm
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      The review is needed. by reading your comments Rebbecca, It is obvious that as an early years educator you have no understanding of how small children develop, for if you did, you would know that they learn best through unstructured freeplay that is supported and facilitated by adults that truly understand them and their needs. Your job is to help parents understand their children and to value the precious early years Your sheer lack of knowledge and or ignorance to these facts coupled with your desire to turn nurseries in to training grounds for formal education is proof enough that the tickell review needs to assess current work force training and qualification needs. Maria Montessori, Owen et al would be turning in their graves. You need training, for the sake of the children, go and get it. .

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  • March 30, 2011 at 3:42 pm
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    Hi there
    I am just about to forward this to my staff – I feel that this is a serious recognition of three strands:(and I have not read it all yet)
    1. the serious steps forward preschool settings have been encouraged and enabled to take in the last three years, and the fact that many EYP’s are now empowered to lead from within the practice rather than have to move away from the children to have a voice?
    2. the fact that the challenges have sometimes been overwhelming, discouraging and taken us away from the children
    3. early years qualifications maybe need a serious review as I feel that the link from theory to practice is not always clearly evident and that training providers do not work closely enough with the trainee in the setting to create and develop that link which is vital. Theory that is not put into practice and tested is meaningless. This could just be my experience and I would be interested to hear from others. Documentation can look fantastic but who checks it matches the child? (Apart from your own conscience which may or may not be activated…..) Assignments detailing what trainees could do in their setting meaningless if the theory is not being carried out? (either by their instigation or by the setting’s.)

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  • March 30, 2011 at 1:57 pm
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    I for one welcome a change of the current EYFS system. I know Childminders who now spend time on the paperwork whilst the children are still there! How is that a positive. I spend hours on my children’s observations and assessments and planning, which I do in my evenings so as not to disrupt my children or my family life. The flexability was one of the issues that caused most confusion we were bombarded by tracker books, computer programs and stickers etc for recording our observations while being told a postit note and a photo would be enough. Most people took several attempts at getting their own system set up and adapting it to suit.
    I agree about qualification. The ICP is a very basic course and I feel not suitable for the job. Level 3 or above should be the minimum requirement to work unsupervised with children. There are a lot of fantastic childminders out there but a few that have NO IDEA of how to play, communicate and care for children.
    Some form of EYFS is Vital, the idea of linking in with health care professionals sounds great but I wonder how it would work in practice.

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  • March 30, 2011 at 1:40 pm
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    I welcome Dame Clare Tickell’s review of the EYFS, recognizing the excellent framework the document offers but reducing the amount of paperwork professionals have to do, focussing on the areas that really matter and recognizing that learning needs to be fun , not just for the children but also for the professionals working with them. I particularly respect the view that all EY professionals should be qualified to a level consistent with the old NNEB, which was a qualification really worth having.

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    • March 30, 2011 at 9:14 pm
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      I absolutely agree with your views on the ‘old’ NNEB. Two years of wide ranging course in eduacation, health and child development, knowledge of statutory requirements, english and other subjects, 2 days at college, 3 days a week in a setting, different setting in second year from first, regular assessments and exams at the end of the course. I would definitly agree with reducing the amount of paperwork and that there should be a more evenly balanced child initiated and adult led activities, adult led does not mean adult dominated.

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    • March 31, 2011 at 7:19 am
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      Jeanne it is refreshing to see that another EY professional agrees that the old NNEB was a qualification that was only awarded after deep and meaningful training which equipped practitioners with the skills and knowledge needed in practice. Over the years I have seen a drop in the standard of EY workers who are entering settings with qualifications including NVQ at level 1, 2 & 3 but have no actual awareness of child development – on the other hand I have experienced working with staff who are fresh from university holding an EY degree who have the knowledge but are unable to work effectively with the children on their level……there is no middle ground. Bring back our traditional NNEB style awards please!!!!!!
      It would be beneficial during this proposal for change within the EYFS that training in EY is also scrutinised and changed.

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  • March 30, 2011 at 1:33 pm
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    The statement ” the EYFS be more in line with what children are learning at the age of 5 in school” concerns me when the current EYFS is from birth, as it stands at the moment the EYFS enables us to observe and plan for individual children holistically and in line with their own interests. Nowhere in the standards does it say that all children MUST achieve all 69 learning goals, are these not guidelines for practitioners????????????????
    I strongly disagree with Dr Bousted that learning should be teacher led, it sounds very much like we are going backwards, a shame when we have been going forwards for such a long time. We need also to be positive that all children are recieving a developmental check at 2 and a half, in our expeirence this is not always the case and look closer Dame Clare as many of us nursery practitioners are already working closely with health professionals, working together is very high on our priority list
    Please Dame Clare and Dr Bousted spend some time nursery settings to observe the learning that is achieved and give credit to those child care professionals that know their children and families so so well.

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  • March 30, 2011 at 12:14 pm
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    Undoubtedly this will reduce the paperwork involve and many practitioners will see huge benefits from this review. I’m intrigued to see how this will all unfold to be honest, in particular what will remain ‘statutory requirements’ and what will not! I think the review highlights the need to work closer with health professional and to provide parents with a clearer account of their child’d progress at key point in the life. Which bring the whoel element of care to the centre of play based learning. What I hope will remain is a need to still to monitor children’s development between the recommended reporting stages…

    I still feel that there is still a need for practitioners to have a sound understanding of children age and stage of development. The NNEB clearly embeded that at eh core of this qualification. It is interesting to note that the standard of qualifications obtained need to be higher and in line with the NNEB ( See Nursery World Interview). The is a really poignant statement that clearly recognises the shortfalls in the standards of qualifications
    I await to see how the discussion unfold….

    Reply

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