Anger builds over league tables for 5-year-olds

21st January 2011 at 00:00

Anger is growing over Government plans to publish league tables for five-year-olds.

A petition started by Frances Laing, a journalist, blogger and mother of a five-year-old, has already attracted more than 880 signatures, including that of children's author Michael Rosen.

Academics, teachers and parents have expressed concern at the plans - revealed in the Department for Education's business plan - to publish the early years foundation stage profile results on a school-by-school basis ("League tables for five-year-olds", December 3).

Ms Laing said: "I think it is morally wrong to compare children in this way because they are so developmentally different. Children need the space to be and to play. It is not a good idea to push them too hard, too soon.

"These tables are presented by the coalition Government as helping parents to make informed choices, but parents want to have a meaningful dialogue about their child's progress with teachers. They don't want more tables foisted on them."

Michael Rosen said: "I just think that all we're doing with league tables is ending up with false information that puts pressure on people and stigmatises them. What we should be doing is finding a way of encouraging co-operation between schools for the benefit of everybody.

"Tory and Labour are all at the same game. At heart they have no other way of thinking about standards in schools unless it deals with measurable quantities."

Penelope Leach, the respected childcare guru, said: "At five years old, at the very beginning of school, that isn't the kind of judgment of an individual school we ought to be looking at.

"We ought to be looking at the ease with which children settle in - the extent to which there is flexibility on the hours children are able to keep."

Wendy Scott, president of the Association for the Professional Development of Early Years Educations, said: "It was bad enough the way the profile results have been used for target-setting by local authorities.

"I was part of the group that set it up and it was always said they would never be used like that; they were always about having information to pass on to Year 1."

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