Playtime please

30th October 2009 at 00:00

What's in a word? When the word is "school", rather a lot - politicians, parents and the public think of school as a place where children sit down in a classroom and learn. Primary school is where they learn, above all, the 3Rs ("Early-years debate in search of battle lines", October 23).

If we want to provide a truly play-based education for children between three and six (or - if it were up to me - seven) we should stop calling it school. "Nursery", "kindergarten" or, as in Wales, "foundation phase" all suggest something qualitatively different from school. Then all we have to do is convince non-educationists of the importance of laying sound foundations for children's learning (especially literacy). And we have to reassure them that this doesn't mean holding back those children who are interested in reading and writing, which would be every bit as cruel as forcing the others to do something for which they're not yet developmentally ready.

If we had a starting age of four for kindergarten, then a school starting age of six, it wouldn't matter if kindergarten and school shared the same site - the ethos would be different. And the rest of the country would know what we education mavens are on about in the "early-years debate".

Sue Palmer, Literacy specialist and author of '21st Century Boys', Edinburgh.

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


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