I usually approach such reading with trepidation, however when Jonathan Douglas Chairman of the National Literacy Trust described it as ‘exhilarating’ my ears pricked up.
The Review recognises the success and popularity of the EYFS and that it will be some time before this will be fully embedded in practice. It therefore does not recommend radical change, but maintaining EYFS in its current form whilst fine tuning certain aspects. I’m sure this will be a relief to many who are only just getting to grips with the EYFS and dread being faced with even more change. The tone of the report feels very much as though Dame Tickell has listened to the many individuals and organisations involved in the consultation and shows a commitment to the importance of early education. The review supports learning through play, active learning, creativity and critical thinking as characteristics for effective teaching and recommends that the EYFS remains inclusive and mandatory.
There are a number of recommendations in the review including:-
- A greater emphasis on parental partnership . The EYFS should be more accessible to parents by making sure it is in plain English. I also think this would really help with the wide range of people that use it and help to remove any ambiguity . In addition an online interactive version of EYFS is recommended that would be accessible to parents.
- A reduction of the Early Learning Goals from 69 to 17, with a simple scale defining the skills needed for emerging, expecting and exceeding each goal. Anything that reduces targets has to be a good thing in my opinion and the examples of the simple scale are very clear.
- A commitment to greater clarity on the level of paperwork required, alongside the suggestion that paperwork should be reduced. This sits alongside the recommendation that Ofsted and the Local Authority work together to ensure that no unnecessary demands made.
- There continues to be an emphasis on formative assessment based on observations of daily activities to illustrate children’s learning. Summative assessment (the Foundation Stage Profile) will be significantly reduced and there is a call for stronger links between EYFS and KS1.
- A call to investigate as a matter of urgency the suitability of a ratio of 1:30 in reception classes.
- A commitment to recruiting a professional and highly qualified workforce including a review of Early Years training courses and a clear progressive structure for qualifications. I just hope that this quality is maintained by providing financial incentives.
- A recommended change to the areas of learning. This would create 3 Prime areas – Communication and Language, Personal, Social and Emotional and Physical and 4 further areas through which these will be applied. These would be Literacy, Maths, Expressive Arts and Design and Understanding the World. I am undecided as to whether the separation of Communication and Language from Literacy will lead to a greater emphasis on speaking and listening or whether it will detract from the interdependence of reading, writing, speaking and listening. I hope that there will be clear advice as to what early literacy is . I am a little disheartened that literacy is defined in terms of reading and writing and that definitions have not been reframed for a new technological age. I am also unsure about the change from Creativity to
- Expressive Arts and Design. I am certain that it has been changed to avoid ambiguity, but creativity encompasses so much more than art and design, that I would hope that this would be fostered in diverse ways. It is good to see that technology has a specific mention in Understanding the World.
- A review of children’s development at aged 2-2.5 sharing knowledge from all agencies.
The examples of good practice in the appendices make good reading and there are some thought provoking quotations interspersed throughout. Reading the whole document takes some time, but is worthwhile. If you didn’t want to read the whole review the summary of recommendations in Annex 2 will give an overview.
I watch with interest to see how policy makers will adopt these recommendations for the new EYFS.
The full consultation report can be viewed here http://www.education.gov.uk/tickellreview