The new Ofsted Education Framework consultation date is passed. We now await the outcome. I have read lots of blogs to help me digest what the future might (probably will) hold and the implications.
I came across the blog of Penny Webb and her opinions got me on the soapbox! I wrote my thoughts as I read. We have, I feel, both put ourselves in the child’s shoes and there isn’t much, disagreement between us. I am a product of an education system that failed me at the time. That’s probably why I chose my vocation. I HATE writing! Seemingly, my sentences are too long and I always write in the passive tense. I have sorted some of the long sentences but the passive tense sounds right to me – so apologies up front!
HERE IS PENNY’S BLOG
AND MY VIEWS
For me, Penny, one of the saddest things is that professionals don’t always do what they believe to be right. The fallout is that children are damaged. In my nearly 50 years of Early Years experience, I felt that Early Years folk resisted pressure, as the child was at the heart of practice. However, recently, I fear this is no longer the case. In my experience, so many teachers do what they disagree with. If they all refused to ‘test’ then there would be no testing. Professional integrity, to me is very important. We work in an industry which has little respect from society, maybe that is one of the reasons. In respect to your blog, if Ofsted Inspectors don’t believe in what they are doing – then, as followers follow those ‘at the top’ – I am not sure I have the words!
The Early Years Foundation Stage provides a framework and gives guidance on the enabling environment. It acknowledges that children are unique and learn different things at different times and at different rates. ‘Intent’, should be around facilitating this. That does include assessment to ensure it is known which children are ‘being left behind’. Also, which children need more to challenge them. These needs must be recognised and support given to ensure opportunities are available. Extra assistance can then be targeted. This, in my view, should be in a nurturing play-based way. Not a ‘sit and do as I say’ manner. Lesson plans (which might be implied) are not the way to go and contrary to the EYFS.
Summative assessment is important. It should be the results of a holistic approach that is play-based and guided by what the child is interested in. Educational experience should be truly rounded and society should appreciate that everyone is good at something. All the ballet dancers then would have perhaps an easier educational experience. After all, the acquisition of the Learning attributes (CoEL) impacts learning for the rest of the child’s life. It is the facilitator’s role to provide a rich environment that reflects this. To be guided by how children naturally develop and how they like to learn.
Your comment, ‘Will leave another child bored either because too easy or simply not interested at that moment in time, and who may then decide to do other more interesting things – at the risk of adults displeasure’. This Penny is EXACTLY why the spark software was developed. Also, to support educators that (still) don’t know or use child development to nurture progress. They bounce to the next expected outcome without appreciating all the bits that happen before that next hoop! Without knowing what is ‘normal’ and what is to be expected, to me is like driving with a blindfold on! Worse still, well-meaning adults pitch activities inappropriately as you have described. Without firm roots, trees will fall over. I agree it is frightening; the future mental health issues that are being created. What is really sad it is sometimes by those knowing things should be different!
The concept of Cultural Capital, I think is acknowledged already, just as British Values were in most good settings. Introducing new concepts for Inspection purposes, I don’t feel is helpful, but like you, I am watching this space. An inspiring environment will and should deliver this if educators have the will, resources (possible funding issue) and know how to extend the continuous provision to entice children’s natural curiosity. Real life, hands-on experiences. So, if I understand it, it should already be happening. It is ‘how to find knowledge’ and ‘wanting to find knowledge’ that is important, not to maybe feel inadequate on not knowing facts. For me, that smacks approaches such as, ‘pro-rote’ learning or ‘processing’ to please an adult, neither which, are traits included in the Characteristics of Effective Learning.
A few words on behaviour. A compassionate society is an inclusive one. Behaviour should not be labelled but understood in my view. It is the result of something more serious that needs a solution to diminish the outcome. Applying pressure to conform (for all) perpetuates problems, it doesn’t solve the troubles for the child.
In the context I have already described, I believe children will acquire the academic skills they NEED if they are allowed and enabled to be confident and self-motivated learners. As professionals that really understand children, we all know HOW to do that.
I just wish society would make ministers do some relevant CPD in Early Education. That those that should know better, ‘stick their heels in’. An improved understanding by society as a whole would help to set the bar on the appropriateness to nurture outcomes rather than to impose them. I am sure in time (like children up chimneys) our descendants will look back in horror and some practices will be seen as abusive. There is a huge responsibility here ‘to get it right’, Nobody should compromise that in my view, as it perpetuates all that is wrong and harmful. In my opinion, it is only by educating parents (who vote) that will change the integrity of those that influence education and the systems that regulate the quality of it.