Fears unfounded, says architect of early years rules

1st February 2008 at 00:00
One of the authors of the Early Years Foundation Stage framework has said fears that it will formalise learning for pre-school children are unfounded.

Professor John Oates, senior lecturer in developmental psychology and visiting professor at University College Plymouth St Mark and St John, wrote the "development matters" sections of the guidance, which is due to become statutory for all those working with children under 5 in September.

Distinguished early years and education experts, including Penelope Leach and Tim Brighouse, signed an open letter in The TES last term saying the framework allows no space for alternative ideas on how to care for pre-school children. Their Open Eye campaign gave the example that an early head start in literacy can precipitate emotional and behavioural difficulties.

But Professor Oates said: "The framework is not about specifying formal learning for children before school entry. Instead, it's primarily about the most important informal aspects of early childhood, such as playing, being creative, experiencing warm, supportive relationships with brothers, sisters, friends and adults - indeed, having fun.

"It's about understanding the milestones that children achieve in development and how best to give them the sorts of environments and experiences in which they can thrive."

While the campaign's original letter raised concerns about literacy learning, the follow-up petition on the Downing Street website calls for the framework to be introduced as guidance, rather than law.

The Open Eye campaign does recognise that some aspects of the framework are "laudable".

"We are certainly not against government intervention in the early years sphere per se and we appreciate the resources that government has recently devoted to the field," it said.

Debbie Hepplewhite, a member of the Reading Reform Foundation which advocates synthetic phonics, was one of the signatories.

"I think 5 is a good age to teach phonics," she said. "But I think Steiner schools are entitled to a different philosophy and parents need to make their own minds up."

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now