Wise words on early years

16th July 2004 at 01:00
Thank you David Bartlett for some timely words of wisdom about the foundation stage profile. What a missed opportunity for early-years practitioners that it was placed on page 24. It deserved a higher priority, at least as high as those articles that slate and mock the profile.

One of the more positive aspects of the profile is that it is improving early-years practice. It promotes equal weighting for each of the six areas of learning in the foundation stage, rather than a heavy emphasis on numeracy and literacy.

By necessity, practitioners plan carefully to ensure that each area is fairly represented throughout the week. It promotes short periods of on-going observation of how children are working together and independently. It does not promote the tick-list system that has been reported.

Teachers who have found the profile supportive in the three terms of its first full year are those whose practice is good. Their observations inform them how best to move the children's learning forward. It is something that good teachers do automatically, making regular updating of the profile an easy task.

The worst aspect of the profile is the indecent haste with which it was introduced, before the software was ready and before teachers had the opportunity to trial it.

Once every foundation stage teacher has a working copy of the electronic version of the profile, keeping up to date with children's progress throughout the year will be simple. It will also be extremely useful in supporting teachers' analysis of what groups and individual children need to further develop their understanding.

The profile is about children, not numbers. Shame on those who have used it otherwise, against the advice of the best early-years researchers.

Carol Kelly 34 Rowan Drive Handsacre Rugeley Staffordshire

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