Latest hot topics at Early Years

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Baseline assessment

Assessment in UK reception classrooms is changing from this September.  It will no longer be compulsory for teachers to complete an EYFS Profile for pupils to assess final attainment at the end of the EYFS.  Instead, baseline testing will be introduced to assess children’s level of development at the beginning of their formal schooling, in order to later measure how they’ve progressed by age 11.

Schools can choose from two types of baseline test.  Around a third of schools are opting for the NFER Assessment, carried out on a one-to-one basis.  Children work through activities focusing on learning basics – such as counting, picture, letter and number recognition – while the teacher records their progress.  This takes around 30 minutes.  About two thirds of schools are opting for an assessment method devised by Early Excellence.  This relies on teachers’ observations of children’s skills within the daily routine.  It is said that children will not be aware that they are being tested.

With tests taking place during the first six weeks of school, early years opinion is somewhat divided.  Some feel that the age of four is too young for children to be subjected to testing.  Others are concerned that children tested in the first week of school will be at a disadvantage to children tested towards the end of the testing period, as the latter will have had up to six weeks of classroom learning and can be expected to have progressed.

Lighting Up Young Brains report

Save the Children and University College London have released a new report claiming that nearly 130,000 children per year are falling behind in the UK before they even reach school.  It highlights that the most explosive brain growth and the majority of connections within the brain are formed during a child’s pre-school years.  The organisations are calling for the government to ensure that every nursery has a qualified early years teacher to maximise children’s learning, and say the report aims to “challenge the misconception that learning can wait for school.”  Response to this has been mixed, with the Pre‑school Learning Alliance chief executive commenting that, “…discussions on ‘school‑readiness’ can too easily become fixed on ensuring children reach a predetermined level of ‘achievement’ by the time they start school…Good early years policy should take into account the fact that children naturally develop at different rates, and focus on ensuring that schools are child‑ready, not the other way around.”

National Literacy Trust’s survey

This annual survey has found that 71 percent of mothers feel that they have the most influence on their child’s developing literacy, compared to just 36 percent of fathers.  It also suggests that compared to girls, fewer boys aged under 5 read stories daily.  The Trust is urging fathers to get more involved with reading to their pre-school children to help reduce the reading skills gender gap.  You can play a part by introducing parents to the Words for Life website http://www.wordsforlife.org.uk/ which is full of tips and activities for parents and children.

Until next month,

Miranda

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