On Saturday 10th March, the same day as the NAACE TeachMeet in Leicester, Derbyshire County Council also held a big event for their Derbyshire Early Years settings at the University of Derby. I was lucky enough to be invited to attend this with Tiny Tots Day Nursery to showcase a range of ICT equipment and demonstrate the appropriateness of Games Based Learning in Early Years settings. This blog post is one of two, here I will reflect on the Keynote Lecture given by Jan Dubiel which focuses on Curriculum change in Early Years. My second blog will provide links and advice based on the discusses I had with visitors to the workshop I featured in.
We Are the Experts!
The event was opened by Jan Dubiel, who currently works at the Early Excellence Centre in Huddersfield. His Keynote lecture, entitled ‘A New Landscape? Exploring the Implications of the EYFS Review’ provoked great thought centred around the purpose of Government reviews and curriculum change.
Dubiel first took us back in time to the beginnings of policies and procedures for outcomes in early years settings, explaining how we have arrived at today’s EYFS curriculum. Dubield spoke passionately about the skills and importance of practitioners in classrooms, nurseries, pre-schools and child minders. This filled the room with agreement, offering real praise, encouragement and trust in the expertise of early years staff across both the county and nationally. Jan reassured that no matter what curriculum changes occur, we must hold on to what we believe in as experts of our field. Whatever works for us, our children and our settings must continue these practises regardless of the colour and layout of the document that is most recent for our age group. The only people who know what is best for the children they work with, are the people who work with them!
Research and Review Findings.
Dubeil’s lecture discussed the findings of the Tickell Review and what is likely to feature in the upcoming revised Early Years Foundation Stage guidance. From this, he unpicked three areas of these recommendations further. He talked about the screening of 2 – 3 year olds and report to parents of their child’s progress at this age. He also looked at the slimming of the EYFS Profile Points and the removal of the 9 point scale. Dubiel complimented Tickell on the strategy she used to make this recommendation; Government wanted to slim the profile and practitioners wanted the detail to remain. The outcome is an EYFS Profile which will cover the grounds of the current 1 – 9 point system, by grouping statements and offering an ’emerging > expected > exceeded’ assessment of each of the new points. This has successfully reduced the number of boxes in the Profile grid, but the detail and preciseness of the Profile remains in check (which Dubiel explained was a finding from the original consultation and research over the past year).
School Readiness: A term we can love!
Lastly, Dubiel mentioned the ‘school readiness’ term which is likely to be present in the new EYFS. He stood confidently and stated that this should not change the planning and procedures of any settings and best practises that have been tried, tested and proven in the last 10 years. Everything we know and love about the EYFS will remain the same. School Readiness is a term which we do not need to battle against, and we should use it as a statement to describe everything good settings achieve when their pre-schoolers begin transition in to Reception classes.
Stand up for what we believe in!
The revised EYFS could include a statement suggesting that towards the end of Nursery and Foundation Stage 1, children should move towards more adult lead teaching activities. Even though this has been challenged in the last months by many professionals, if this statement does appear in the final publications, Dubiel will offer support to all early years staff via the Early Excellence website should the revised curriculum suggest a move towards more adult lead teaching in Nursery settings, explaining that the website will release a package of research materials for us to use to support our planning and provision so that we do not feel pressured to make our cohorts sit at tables and listen to adults teach. www.earlyexcellence.com
The most pleasing aspect of Dubiel’s lecture was the fact that we are proud of the EYFS that we have shaped. When the EYFS review began about a year and a half ago, the original consultation received an overwhelming response which could not be ignored. This has proved that we must continue stand up for the practises we believe in, and support each other in the work we do because it is us, the practitioners, who are the experts. Otherwise, the revised EYFS would not look the same as it does now come September.
To read about preparing for technology in the early years, read this blog post here.
For more information on bringing the new computing curriculum in to early years, read this blog post here.
And to find out about programming apps available for early years, reading this blog post here.