I've always been bookish and, as is the case for so many teachers, the holidays are the perfect time to get absorbed in reading. ‘Start With Why’ by the brilliant Simon Sinek is my current read and every page is reminding me of the reasons I embarked on a journey towards change. Why am I teaching? Why am I leading a team? Why has ‘Can I Go And Play Now?’ come about? Why am I sharing my vision?
And that challenge extends to you - why are you teaching? Why are you advocating a pedagogy? Why do you do what you do?
For me I keep coming back to the idea of ‘positive change’. As a teacher I want to be a force for positive change in my immediate surroundings by showing parents and colleagues that play is a powerful tool and by forming real and meaningful connections with others, so that my Foundation Unit can have an impact not just on children but within families and a community.
I want to give children Early Years experiences that immerse them in richness and wonder and, in turn, emotionally engage them in learning so that they can shape themselves to take on the world and one day change it even further and for the better. I want them to have a powerful voice that is heard and I want them to be at the centre of their learning adventure. In turn - and my ultimate 'Why' - I do this because I want to challenge the ‘accepted’.
The release of Ofsted’s EY report ‘Bold Beginnings’ http://bit.ly/2zRL1mo has certainly opened up a debate about early education and what is and what is not appropriate for 4-5 year olds. There are many things within its pages that point to the formalisation of Early Years. A personal reaction is one of dismay based on the knowledge that many Headteachers and school leaders upon reading it will have the impression that the formal methodology that was used as a sample will now be the type of practice that Ofsted will be looking for when inspecting. Hopefully this won’t be the case but the reality is that the report has the potential to put unnecessary pressure on EY teams in schools to overly-adopt the kinds of formalised practices featured in its pages.
The word ‘sample’ in the report subheading will probably be overlooked by Headteachers although the reality is exactly that - it is a sample. However it is a selective sample. If you look at the schools involved you might just spot some who are part of academies with a certain maths programme to sell. Knowing this alone should start the alarm bells ding-a-linging... I’m sure the authors of the report had good intentions and arguably there are elements within it that are perhaps in a tiny way head-noddingly agreeable? We know that Early Years can’t exist in a bubble after all and the voice to Early Years-ify KS1 is not currently being heard by the necessary ears and their political agenda. Saying that, I’m in no way advocating the KS1-ification of Reception! If your leadership is insightful and understands child development then they will possibly have an EYFS approach in year 1. But for those who don’t then life might well become that little bit harder!
Education in the current climate is obsessed with measurability, performance and outcomes so perhaps the report should come as no surprise. Having said that there is a pedagogical model that can meet the report’s recommendations IF that is what your school leadership insist on. In fact it’s a model that is brilliantly effective even if they don’t!! In addition, contrary to the report, this model actually gives space and time for real play! It’s the 3Ms and it uses the idea of the ‘play sandwich’ - essentially a huge slab of play between two slices of formal teaching across both morning and afternoon session. Using it can enable your children to truly engage in play whilst at the same time achieving the data/methodology outcomes for the Adult World.
Can I Go Play Now..? is committed to widening the understanding of the magic of children's play as an educational tool. Child-centred, play-based learning is where it's truly at....