Newsletter 17th May 2018
What is happening in Early Years?
Our Early Years specialist, Dr Sue Allingham gives her thoughts on the future of Early Years including recent sector changes.
We are, yet again, on the cusp of change in the world of the Early Years Foundation Stage. Never has it been more important to be well informed and up to date as we may well need to use this knowledge to keep us grounded in developmentally appropriate practice, that will enable all children to make good progress. As well as enabling all teachers to demonstrate that they are narrowing the attainment gap.
Why is this? As I write, we have just heard that the provider of the next version of ‘baseline assessment’ is to be NFER and that it will involve a twenty minute ‘test’, administered by the teacher and completed on a tablet. The test will be on reading, writing and mathematics. Those of us who have been working in Early Childhood Education for a long time will know that this isn’t the first time that we have been here. Many will remember how, in 2015, we were invited to choose from three different providers of ‘baseline assessment’. Two were computer based, and one based on accruing observations. The vast majority of schools chose the latter as it was the one that most truly reflected robust appropriate practice. This pilot was abandoned, because the results from the three programmes were incompatible and it could not be decided which had been most effective. Which is why we are in this situation now. But observational assessment has not been given a look in this time.
However, this had happened once before. I was part of a discussion group at QCA – the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority – to inform how early assessment should look. At this point there were over 70 different types of ‘on entry’ assessment in use around the country. Local Authorities often had their own, and there was a popular computer based one. Based on our thinking and national surveys, the original version of the Foundation Stage Profile was produced. Based on observations. And at the end of Reception.
The current agenda of school accountability has created a perceived need for a national assessment at the beginning of Reception. A baseline. That will be ‘black boxed’ until the end of Year 6 in order to measure progress and the ‘success’ of the school. The future plan is for Key Stage One SATs to be axed.
There are several issues with the type of tablet based assessment that will be piloted in September, too many to go into here. Of most significance to this piece is the simple fact that all schools already have a robust system of ‘on entry’ assessment. All teachers record significant observations of the children to inform the work they do. It’s one of the Statutory Requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage. These formative assessments can be – and often are – ‘best fitted’ to determine an ‘on entry’ level once the children have settled in. A much more detailed and realistic assessment of what a child knows, understands and can do. And one against which progress can be measured.
Next stop – the revision of the Early Learning Goals. Which is underway now.
The School Compass ‘Early Years foundation stage training’ will ensure that your school’s staff will have the required knowledge to support any potential upcoming changes in the Early Years and beyond.
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Our online CPD is growing
We have recently launched our online CPD training for SENCOs and next month we will be launching our NEW School Business Manager training packages ensuring you have access to 24/7 high quality training ‘on the go’. This will also help SBMs in building and recording their annual CPD hours. Great for performance management!
School Funding… The future
MPs have launched an inquiry into school funding in England. This investigation will examine whether the government should have a 10-year plan for schools and colleges, instead of the current system of three-year spending reviews. The inquiry will also consider the effectiveness of the pupil premium, which targets additional resources at children from deprived backgrounds, and how the new national funding formula will be implemented.