We should test nursery children from as young as two

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Ofsted are set to release their first dedicated early years education report this week, with a recommendation to overhaul the early years education structure.

The report is set to criticise settings for failure to make children “School Ready” with the recommendation to test children from as young as two years old in basic numeracy and literacy, ensuring that they are adequately prepared for full time education.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, Chief Inspector at Ofsted says, “Research shows that children’s development is at its greatest between birth and five. Therefore, the activities they do are absolutely crucial in giving them a good start in life.”

It is believed he will recommend that early years providers regularly assess the abilities of their children so they can identify those that may be struggling.

The radical plan follows a letter sent to Ofsted’s early years inspection team urging them to place greater focus on whether children are being prepared correctly for statutory schooling. Wilshaw states that the inspection system should be used to consider how well settings are “helping children to catch up when skills are lower than those typical for their age”

Under the Early Years Foundation Stage the current ‘Nappy Curriculum” for children under five sets out targets for early literacy, numeracy, social skills and emotional development. But the Ofsted report will say that the sector is “confusing for parents and too hard to access”.

Are we going too far?

The proposals are likely to anger many childcare experts who believe we are already pushing children too much at such a young age. 2013 saw a lobby of 130 experts who wrote to the Telegraph suggesting that schooling should be delayed until the age of 6, like many other countries, as the current systems removes natural development.

Are we robbing our children of their natural development and right to play? 

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7 thoughts on “We should test nursery children from as young as two

  • April 6, 2014 at 3:04 pm
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    This is absolute absurd, I deal with young children on daily basis and always find children need to enjoy their play which will help with their imagination and develop their brain. Once confident they become more eager to learn that is when they can be prepared for schooling. Let each child grow up in their own time where is the term each child is an individual gone. These big guns sitting at the top need to come down to ground level to understand the children and their needs.

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  • April 3, 2014 at 6:42 pm
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    I echo what’s already been said. Sir Michael Wilshaw completely rides rough shod over the research and the evidence. Instead of looking to testing and creating a lost generation of children robbed of the infinite joy of childhood let’s look to arguably the best early years education in the world; the Reggio Emilia System, which completely prepares children for school by giving them a secure, loving, creative basis to love learning, supports families and communities to grow and DOES NOT involve more utterly destructive form filling and testing. Encourage EY practitioners to grow in their settings with creative approaches and YOU WILL SEE IMPROVEMENTS to maths and literacy across the board. YES children learn most 0-5 BEFORE THEY START FORMAL EDUCATION at that point they are no longer allowed to learn and play as they would like to and surprisingly their learning slows down. It really isn’t rocket science.

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  • April 1, 2014 at 7:52 am
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    This is absolutely horrendous! I have a 5 year old grandson already feeling a failure at school because he finds it difficult to get his head around the complexities of the English Language exceptions contained within understanding ‘reading’ having been taught phonics solely and ‘spelling’. He fails a spelling test regularly, he has a phonics test (mandatory now) coming up at the end of this school year (Year 1) for 40 phonic words and not only does he already think he will not pass, his teacher has already advised that he is likely to fail too! He does not have special educational needs, he is just a boy in a system that does not meet the needs of boys (and many girls too for that matter). I would support any action to stop this ridiculous suggestion. As a nursery owner, I shall stand strong with many other individuals who are of the same view – I will do everything within my power to resist the necessity for testing under 5’s. Ofsted and Research? Let’s give Ofsted the challenge of looking closely at the research available for meeting the needs of boys throughout our educational system!

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  • March 31, 2014 at 7:53 pm
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    Why are our children not school ready at 4.BECAUSE THEY ARE TOO YOUNG FOR SCHOOL!!. This is why other countries do not send them until 6 or 7. Let’s give them a good Foundation Stage. Many get only a few months then it’s all change again. They can still learn to read and write. All children should leave the Foundation Stage reading and writing, confidently talking; then start school. Use peripatetic early years teachers – well paid, well educated who have the enthusiasm to pass on their drive and skills. Low paid nursery nurses are not the answer. Their time is taken with the routines of the day.

    No more time wasting testing children please! Find problems early? That would be good – if there was the infrastructure to support the child afterwards.

    They are looking at it from the wrong end. The Early Years are vital – please do not spend hours working out how to test 2 year olds! That’s not the question. When you have tested them – then what next? There are the same resources etc. What will change?

    Jenny Hazel

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    • April 2, 2014 at 10:59 am
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      Jenny – you wrote exactly what I and my colleagues have been saying for years. I get so angry when I read that 4 year olds are not ready for “school”. Of course they are not ready. They should still be in a caring environment which is what pre-schools provide. I can never understand why most other countries start their education so much later than we do and yet their children outrun ours at the end of their education. Could it perhaps have something to do with the fact that they start when they are ready instead of being pushed into something that is far too much for them to handle.

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  • March 31, 2014 at 3:58 pm
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    Yes, I think we are robbing our children of their childhood. There is so much pressure on children these days that they do not get the chance to develop their personal and social skills and spend time playing and exploring. They are children for such a short time already, why reduce that time by adding more pressure. Their school life is long enough!!!!

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    • March 31, 2014 at 5:20 pm
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      goodness me! What ARE we doing to our children?

      SOME children can barely talk at 2. You wouldn’t expect the vast majority to be able to do numeracy. It’s almost impossible for them to pick up three items, because they only have 2 hands!

      Rather than blame early years settings for not getting children school ready….perhaps you need to ask yourself WHEN it is appropriate FOR toddlers (because that’s what they are) to be ready for school? Some children leave my setting whilst they are still 3 years old (because their fourth birthdays fall inside the summer holidays). Of course these children are going to be less “school ready” than children that are rising 5 – these younger children have had nearly one year less life lived, or, 25% more living to do. That’s a colossal amount of learning to catch up on.

      Children need to learn through play. An example: whilst setting up a shoe shop today, I had a discussion with a four year old, about two shoes. “This one is similar to this one. It is the same colour here. But, it isn’t here. It is the same size. But they aren’t right.” I suggested looking again….and had a conversation about two the same “pairs” “couples” and odd shoes. We counted pairs of shoes….and that was all before we started trying them on finding shoes that fit….and that was before counting out pennies.

      I think SHAME ON OfSTED to expect all children to be at the same readiness.

      Reply

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