Since 1997, a group of dedicated people, all experts in the field of early childhood, have fought for the introduction of the foundation stage. It is now Government policy to embed in practice the principles set out in the core reference document, Curriculum guidance for the foundation stage.
These principles have received a warm welcome from the field, and are evidence-based in research and theory as well as embracing time-honoured traditions of early childhood practice in the UK.
The foundation profile has also been hard won. We are hopeful that a similar profile will replace national tests for the end of key stage 1. We welcome the foundation profile because it rests on the principles of the core reference document.
The profile uses both "formative" and "summative" assessment. It is observation based, such that a summative assessment cannot be made without evidence of several observations by the team of practitioners.
Unlike national tests it uses the planned activities and experiences offered to children. It values play, and working in partnership with parents, who are part of the team developing the child's profile. It is inclusive, which is welcomed by specialists working with children with special needs and disabilities. It embraces diversity. It gives equal weight to all six areas of learning. Because it is based on best practice in formative record-keeping, it only takes 35 minutes to complete the summative sections for each child.
Compared with the forms of assessment at later stages in the system, this is the most principled and best so far. Rome, Ted, was not built in a day.
Professor Tina Bruce London Metropolitan University
Sue Beckett Headteacher, Dorking nursery school
Meg Bender Pre-School Learning Alliance
Professor Tony Bertram Centre for Research in Early Childhood
Bernadette Duffy Head, Thomas Coram early excellence centre
Jean Ensing, CBE. Former HMI
Sue Griffin National Childminders Association
Professor Chris Pascal Centre for Research in Early Childhood
Dr Gillian Pugh Chief executive, Coram Family
Brenda Spencer Ofsted inspector, former primary school headteacher
Professor Kathy Sylva University of Oxford
Mary West Head, Randolph Beresford early excellence centre
Dr Margy Whalley Director, Research, development and training, Pen Green Centre