As I sit here on a Yorkshire hillside, writing my very first blog, I am
reflecting on a long career as a
practitioner, head teacher, writer, publisher and trainer in the early years,
and thinking – ‘I don’t want to
stop being a member of the early years community where I have had such a good
I’ve decided to spend more time thinking and writing, but my interest in children
and in those who work
with them is just as strong as it always has been. I still need to know what Mr.
Gove will think of next,
what crazy ideas will come out of the Childcare debate, and what the scientists
will find out about how
children learn. I will still need to have what our daughter calls ‘a rant’ about this or that, and particularly
about the people who talk about early education without bothering to find out
about it! And it would be
nice to have a place to put my thoughts.
I also want to continue links with the profession, and that means you! The
practitioners who work in the
early years, despite low pay and constant harassment by government and Ofsted,
because you are
committed to giving children the best start to learning and life – a secure and exciting first five years,
where they can be children – playing, laughing and learning together.
During the years, I’ve been privileged to meet many thousands of you - practitioners, teachers,
and head teachers working in all sorts and sizes of schools and settings in the
UK and abroad. I’ve
worked with local authorities, national governments and other providers, with
trainers and consultants,
and with writers and illustrators, publishers and editors. But what has always
kept me engaged on the
long drives to stay in budget hotels before conferences, during the all night
writing sessions to meet
deadlines, and through the aching feet at the end of a day’s presentation, is a fascination with young
children and their lives.
So with the help of Phill, my husband, partner, and patient supporter of all my
ventures, I’ve started this
new website and this blog. I don’t know if anyone will visit the site or read the blog, but I’m going to give it
a try. If you got the link to the website by email, that’s because I know you or have worked with you in the
past. If you found it through a recommendation, or because you were looking for
something I have written
or said, I hope you’ll find something here to interest you enough to bookmark my site – perhaps you will
even consider contributing. And if you found me by accident – I hope you’ll look around and perhaps
Anything I’ve learned, made or presented in training is yours to share, and as I won’t be meeting
so many of you in person, I’m making this electronic offer.
I will do all I can to research, collect, collate, organise and share resources
in an easily accessible
way - photos, research, websites, articles, ideas, videos, etc.
Your contributions can only add to the value of these resources, so please do
send me ideas and
links to include here.
I’ll try to reply to you individually, and if I think others may be interested in
what we say to each
other I’ll put it on the ‘I have a question...’ page.
I can't promise that I will post at regular intervals but I will do my best. I
can promise that -
• I will try to promote the principles of early education
• My comments will be my own, and may be outspoken - even controversial
• I will keep current issues in early years in mind as I write
• I will welcome your comments on the blog even (maybe especially) if you
disagree with me!
• I will research my facts as well as I am able, and if I make any errors I
promise to correct
them as soon as I’m aware of them
• I may recommend, and sometimes promote websites, ideas and resources, but I will
advertise products or services for money anywhere on this site
• The links on the site will be current, relevant and safe
Enjoy using the site, and have a good time in the Early Years.
With the new term begun and quickly overtaking our memories of summer, I’m encouraging everyone to
respond to one of the latest documents to emerge from the DFE - Primary assessment and accountability
under the new curriculum. You can download it here.
This document appeared on July 17th. Why is it that government departments
always seem to wait until
holiday time to publish controversial proposals? Do they think we have nothing
to do in breaks? We have
only until October 11th to make our views on this document known. Please respond, because if the
proposals are implemented it will have a radical effect on the experience of
children moving into
Key Stage 1!
In future, the children have a high quality early years experience during their
years from birth to five.
Practitioners work hard to follow the progress and celebrate the achievements of
every child in learning
journeys with contributions from practitioners, parents, and the children
However, at the end of Reception, as the children reach the age of five, they
move to Year 1, and the first
thing they experience there is ‘a simple check at the start of reception, to be used as a baseline to
measure progress and to inform schools about each pupil’s strengths and weaknesses on entry.
Read that again! Children moving into Year 1 will be greeted with a baseline assessment! There will be
no Profile because the document proposes:
To avoid any increase in the overall assessment burden, if we introduced a
baseline check at the start of
reception, the EYFS Profile would be made non-statutory. Although schools could
still choose to assess
using the EYFS Profile, they would not be required to do so. The remainder of
the EYFS framework
would remain statutory. We would not collect EYFS Profile data or moderate its
Some of us may be tempted to feel relief as the ‘assessment burden’ of the Profile is lifted. But don’t be
fooled! We know that in busy schools, what’s non statutory gets pushed onto the back burner. This
proposal will negate all the work done by practitioners in their careful
assessment of children. Life will start at the beginning of Year 1, with everything before ignored. It’s
been difficult enough, even in the best schools, to help Key Stage 1 colleagues
to understand the
information contained in the Profiles, and not to condense it into simple
numerical scores. We now risk
losing all our influence!
If you value the early years and don’t want to slip back to a time when anything children did
before five was dismissed as ‘only play’, then please respond to the proposals so we can
maintain the essential contribution that the EYFS makes to recognising the
supporting the smooth transition of children as they move into Year 1.
Please complete a response form, which can be downloaded from the above site,
and send it to the
email address given there.
You can also respond here
or write to: Sue White or Jennifer Conlon Assessment Team Qualifications and
Level 2 Department for Education Sanctuary Buildings Great Smith Street London
Please make your views known, and encourage your colleagues to do so too. The
administration doesn’t appear to understand the importance of the Early Years or how they
contribute to later education. Don’t let them do this.
The deadline is October 11th.