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'Nappy curriculum' softened
A review of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS, nicknamed the 'nappy curriculum') recommends that the scheme becomes more flexible and slimmed down.The review was commissioned by the coalition government last summer.
The EYFS was launched by the previous government in September 2008, setting out a compulsory framework for nursery staff and child minders to assess the development of young children in England aged up to five years. With a 112-page guidance document and 69 developmental milestones, critics argued the scheme was intrusive and overly complicated.
The vast majority of parents and professionals surveyed for the new review in fact said the EYFS was successful, but 30 per cent also said there was too much paperwork and bureaucracy.
Led by Dame Clare Tickell, Chief Executive of Action for Children, the review suggests revising down the number of early learning goals to just 17, and proposes a new focus on three prime areas: personal, social and emotional development; communication and language; and physical development.
'It has been apparent from the start of the review that the EYFS has had a positive overall impact on children in early years settings,' Tickell said, but she added: 'The current EYFS is cumbersome, repetitive and unnecessarily bureaucratic. And it isn't doing enough to engage parents in their child's development or to make sure children are starting school with the basic skills they need to be ready to learn.'
Professor Trisha Maynard, Director of the Centre for Research into Children, Families and Communities at Canterbury Christ Church University, told us she broadly welcomed the new recommendations, particularly for the guidance to be simplified so that it is accessible to all those who work with children. 'I welcome, also, the recognition of the vital role played by parents and carers as partners in young children's learning; the significance of young children's personal, social and emotional development; the appropriateness of a play-based approach to learning; and the importance of highly qualified staff who, sensitively and skilfully, are able to extend young children's play, thinking and understanding,' she said.
However, Maynard, who is chair of the Association for the Professional Development of Early Years Educators, also had some concerns - particularly in relation to assessment being tied to early learning goals and developmental milestones, albeit that the list of these has been slimmed down. 'This is likely to constrain practitioners' thinking and practice in a way that a focus on young children's interests and capabilities would not,' she said. 'Importantly, it does not capture the complex and non-linear nature of young children's development and learning.'
- Access the review: tinyurl.com/6xcbka7
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