The Big Question: How is the early years foundation stage working, one year in?

It’s almost a year since the implementation of the Government’s early years foundation stage, a framework for the care and learning of children under five years of age in all settings.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority is currently seeking views from all those involved in using the framework to find out its effectiveness:  what are the challenges, issues, strengths and areas for development?  How have you found the framework?  Is it an improvement to early years education?  Do children benefit from the framework?  Is there too much bureaucracy?

Here are some views from the education community:

“Despite all the investment made in this initiative, class size remains at 1 to 30 for reception-aged children.  The framework encourages ‘free play’ and with 30 under fives and one adult this is frequently impossible despite a part-time teaching assistant.  “
Jacqui Brunswick, reception teacher

“Not sure about all the recording and assessing we are required to do is necessary or, indeed, productive.  Besides, parents don’t want their children to be constantly assessed and levelled.”
Daisy Singh, primary school teacher

“I applaud the ideal of a unified, high quality curriculum for early years.  However, in reality I believe that the huge range of provision necessitates far too much bureaucracy and standardisation.  Too many excellent settings are closing because they fail to fit the model, and staff members are becoming increasingly driven by record-keeping and assessment.  Who is all the paperwork for?  The children aren’t interested, much is irrelevant to the parents, most of whom just want their children simply to be happy in a setting.  Staff know their children without the need to record each and every move, and by the time Ofsted or local authority moderators see the records, they are obsolete as the child has progressed.  I genuinely think that early years staff are doing their best to meet the demands of the early years foundation stage. However I do feel that the amount of time required to record and assess would be much better spent interacting with the children.”
Carolyn Hill, reception teacher and early years foundation stage coordinator

What is your experience of this issue? Please share your views and comment below.