It would be fair to say that the UK is having a bit of a moment.
Brexit and all its many permutations are having a big effect on how the different parties are trying to position themselves for the upcoming general election and it could mean everything we thought we knew is turned upside down. I mean, even our sports teams are winning these days.
This month could be a sign of things to come, with lots of big news about changes to the ELGs, some mixed 30 hours news, EYFS profile results, early Ofsted feedback and a new early years degree on the block.
Also this week, I’ve matched up clips from our Early Years Weekly news show to the corresponding story, rather than just slapping up a big 20-minute video. If you want more, please subscribe (for free) to our Youtube channel.
1. An EYFS consultation and an ELG pilot
Last year, the DfE announced that they’d be making some changes to the Early Learning Goals (ELGs), which Reception staff use to assess children at the age of five. With it, will come a change to the EYFS guidance and the renowned Development Matters document
This month, we heard the first news from the pilot of these ELGs. Schools on the pilot reported that:
- Overall, participants viewed the revised ELGs positively.
- There are some concerns over the removal of the Shape, Space, and Measure ELG, with teachers worried it might discourage key areas of learning from being taught.
- The new Maths and Understanding of the World ELGs in particular could do with more clarity.
- There is room for interpretation, bringing with it concerns that children could be assessed differently across different schools.
- They brought with them less fixation on evidence-gathering, freeing up teacher time and energy, one of the DfE’s main goals
Concerns from other professional bodies (such as Early Education) cite concerns over moving a Communication and Language ELG over to Literacy, and the same concern as above about Shape, Space, and Measure getting the axe.
The good news is your opinion counts too. The DfE have released the consultation on the changes to the EYFS, where you can give your opinion about the EYFS and what should (and shouldn’t) be changed. We urge you to take a look, and have your say now.
2. Finally, some 30 hours calculations?
The government have been told they must release the details of how they calculated the funding rates for their flagship initiative to give working parents 30 hours of funded childcare.
The Information Commissioner ruled in favour of a long-running Freedom of Information dispute begun by the Early Years Alliance in December 2018. It centres around the government’s claim that the rates are ‘frontloaded’ – that they cover the impact of business cost rises such as a rising National Living Wage. This is how the government have justified freezing the rates until then.
The information must be revealed by November 14.
+ The news comes after reports from The Sun that government ministers are considering extending their 30 hours pledge to 2-year-olds, matching Labour’s pledge but without any noise about increasing the funding rates.
+ Campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed have revealed that nearly a fifth of parents have had to leave their job because of childcare costs, and are calling for childcare to be subsidised from the age of nine months.
3. EYFS profile results
The results of this year’s EYFS profile results have been revealed, and while they show good progress overall, the inequality gap is once again widening.
The teacher-assessed profile is made at the end of reception, and is based on the current 17 ELGs. Each child gets 1 point for emerging, 2 for expected, and 3 for exceeding each ELG. The main takeaways include:
- 71.8% of children achieved a good level of development in 2019, an increase of 0.3 percentage points on last year.
- The inequality gap between all pupils and the lowest attaining 20% has increased by 0.6%, showing a stall in the progress made since 2013.
- Girls continue to do better than boys, but the gap is closing, down to 12.9 percentage points from 13.5 last year.
+ This month, I got the opportunity to speak with one of those nurseries making a difference. Spring Bensham won Nursery of the Year at the annual Nursery World Awards and I spoke to manager Helen Bowlby to hear all about their incredible provision.
4. Government’s SEND reforms are failing young people
The government’s Education Committee has produced a damning report on the country’s SEND care – but failed to dig into the role early years plays.
The report was the result of an 18-month inquiry into government reforms, and stated that “a generation of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities is failing to receive the support it deserves.” They have recommended a more rigorous inspection framework with clear consequences, a clear line of communication between parents and the DfE to complain, and increased powers for investigation.
However, it was surprising to see that the early years were largely ignored in the report, given the important role the early years has in identifying additional needs and the lack of resources that we know plagues the sector.
5. The month in child development
Here are the studies worth paying attention to from the last month:
- Infants can recognise numbers long before they know ‘one’ ‘two’ and ‘three’, with babies as young as 14 month’s old recognising the concept. An interesting study in relation to the recent changs to the Maths ELGs.
- Children’s language skills may be harmed by social hardship as those children from disadvantaged backgrounds are three time more likely to develop language difficulties compared to those from more affluent areas.
- Early reading in Spanish can help children to learn English, according to this study from the States. It sheds an interesting light on the relationship between the effect native proficiency can have on learning English for children with English as an additional language.
- Deaf infants are more attuned to their parent’s visual clues, further highlighting the importance of this key social connection between parent and child and the link to early learning.
6. Chief Medical Officer blasts government obesity progress
The outgoing Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Dame Sally Davies has released her final report. In it, she says that England is ‘nowhere near’ achieving the government’s target to halve obesity by 2030.
In the report, she notes that in the last year of primary school, six children out of a class of thirty are obese, with a further four overweight. This is double the amount of just thirty years ago.
In it, she makes a number of recommendations, including banning all food and drink from public transport besides water and breastfeeding in order to lower the exposure young children have to unhealthy food. She also recommends changing regulations to favour healthy options, changing our environment to allow children to be more healthy and ensure that schools and nurseries continue to play a central role.
+ This comes in the same month that the World Obesity Federation predicted we will have 250 million obese children globally by 2030, up from 150 million now. In the UK, the prediction is 1.3 million children by the same year.
+ A good time to keep up to date on what you can do to help. Check out the latest portions guidance for toddlers, and our full nutrition guide that we made in collaboration with pediatric deititian Lindsay Gilbert.
7. New information on the T-Level qualification
We got more news on the brand new early years T-Level qualification this week, as the DfE launched their public campaign.
These new qualifications will begin in September 2020, and a T-Level in education and childcare will be one of the first taught. They’re aimed at more subject-specific learning, will take two years to complete, and will be the equivalent of three A-Levels.
Once qualified, the graduates will have received a mixture of classroom and work placement training and will meet the Early Years Educator criteria, meaning they’ll count in Level 3 ratios.
8. This month’s interesting reads.
Each month, we want to try and use this spot in our briefing to share the best stories, ideas, and opinion pieces that didn’t quite fit into any of the other big news topics.
For more inspiring and intriguing articles, head over to our new Facebook community Always Learning, where almost 1,000 early years professional share articles, videos, news and guides that interest them. This month:
- Sue Cowley with a fantastic guide to the basics of early mark-making on our very own Famly blog.
- An interview with settings who have been inspected under the new Ofsted Inspection Framework on Nursery World.
- June O’Sullivan with a piece on the vital role Early Years can play in fighting loneliness and isolation in local communities, on the LEYF blog.
- The brand new Early years framework in British Columbia in Canada has some fantastic stuff on culture and a holistic view on child development.
9. The business bit
The latest and greatest in nursery expansions and acquisitions:
10. In other news
+ The Educational Endowment Fund is looking for 500 nurseries and primary schools to take part in their government-funded training programmes on Maths and Literacy. You can find more information and apply here.
+ I loved this hilarious video from Vietnam where a teacher was using an innovative technique to teach children how to wipe their bums…
+ A nursery teacher from Scotland has reached fame and noteriety for finding the world’s biggest Hula Hoop.