Is the Rose concoction a good mix or a volatile experiment?

8th May 2009 at 01:00

While the Rose review has much to commend it, there is one key recommendation that is not only contradictory but has the potential to impact on "the appetite and zest for learning of children in their primary years".

In Recommendation 14, Rose supports lowering the statutory school starting age to four years old. While Rose extols the virtues of a freer curriculum along the lines experienced by pupils in other countries, he fails to acknowledge the relationship between school starting age and achievement elsewhere in Europe. This is most notable in the Nordic countries where the emphasis is on speaking and listening, with more formal aspects of literacy not being taught until children are six or seven.

While ministers are likely to argue that children in the foundation stage receive appropriate provision thanks to the new early years foundation stage, this is not the case for many children in reception classes. Rose refers to the Cambridge review that states that "a curriculum is only as good as those who teach it". Sadly we are far from a position where all teachers in the foundation stage have the necessary pedagogical understanding. To encourage parents to place their children in reception classes before this issue is addressed is irresponsible.

It is essential that both parents and ministers reject this aspect of the Rose review to avoid long-term damage to countless young children's education.

John Wadsworth, Lecturer in early, childhood education; Dr Clare Kelly, Lecturer in education, Goldsmith's College, London.

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