No doubt you will have been following the reaction to the EYFS reforms from the Early Childhood community. There is genuine outrage that responses to the consultation have been ignore and that the DfE has ploughed on regardless without listening to the concerns and recommendations of those who have years of expertise in working and researching with young children, their families and their communities. We were amongst those disappointed that, although we had taken considerable time to respond to the consultation, our input was ignored. Watching the unfolding arguments on Twitter, arguments underpinned by diverse understandings and lack of agreement about what is best for our youngest children, I recalled the exceptional book ‘Beyond quality in early childhood education and care’ by Dahlberg, Moss and Pence. This is such a great book; it has been updated three times and published in at least six languages. It is one of those books that, if you are like me and like to underline any passages that get you thinking, you will find you never put the pencil down.
The authors take the concept of quality and argue that interpretations of this concept can lead to very narrow understandings of the young child, understandings which dismiss diversity and fail to celebrate difference. The authors consider ideas around which voices are allowed to dominate in ECEC in terms of what is best for children. For example, they note how the voice of developmental psychology has been allowed to dominate in the Anglo- American context; this refuses to see the child as an individual with feelings, hopes, ideas and a social context.
So see if you can pick up a copy of the book and engage with its key ideas as you consider how you know that what you are doing with young children is what will benefit them the most, whether what you offer in your setting is organised for children’s learning and development or for some other less ethical agenda.
Right from the start are challenging the reforms to the EYFS by organising a petition; they are clear about what quality (or beyond quality!) early years education should look like and state it is one which:
- ‘prioritises children’s emotional wellbeing, resilience and motivation to learn alongside their knowledge and skills
- ensures children learn the foundations of reading, writing and mathematics, through fostering joy, real engagement and deep learning in these areas
- values and encourages the creativity and divergent thinking that abounds in children of this age
- respects each child as a unique, competent individual; that recognises and celebrates their cultural heritage and, regardless of their socio-economic status or special need, builds upon the knowledge and passions they bring from their homes and communities
- ensures learning is made truly memorable, applicable and transferable, that gives children foundations for life rather than merely preparing them to pass tests in their future education’
If you follow the above link to their website you will be able to both sign the petition and watch a great video they have put together.