Thousands of early years staff have signed a petition calling for the government to suspend its review of the early learning goals that children are expected to reach by the time they leave Reception.
The petition, started by early years trainer Kym Scott, had been signed by 4,813 people at the time of writing.
It calls for the review of early learning goals to be put on hold while the Department for Education puts in place criteria for selecting "advisers" to such a review “based on their background and knowledge of best early years practice linked to international longitudinal research in this area”.
It then calls for the review to restart, by first consulting fully with the early years sector.
There are currently 17 early learning goals, grouped into seven broad areas such as communication and language development and physical development.
The government proposed revising the early learning goals last year as part of a wider review of primary assessment.
It said that the seven areas will remain unchanged, but that it will revise the goals to make sure they are “appropriately aligned” with the Year 1 curriculum – including making sure the communication and language goals have “sufficient focus on increasing depth and breadth of vocabulary”.
Teachers currently assess whether children are working below, at or above the level of each of the goals as part of an assessment called the Early Years Foundation Profile.
The government has said it is also considering cutting the number of goals which are assessed by teachers, but said it recognised “this is a sensitive issue” and further analysis would be undertaken working with stakeholders and its advisory panel.
The petition highlights concern that there may be people advising the government on early years who have commercial interests. The government has said there is no commercial interest to be gained by individuals who have been asked to express their views.