Saturday, 6 February 2016

Early Years provision in schools – policy and practice

Sharing my PowerPoint from the Saturday morning masterclass at the Nursery World Show with Professor Tina Bruce CBE, Jane Whinnett, Lynn McNair and Jan Dubiel.

How can we build a system to support and challenge each other across sectors in the early years?

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development (SMSC) in the early years

I've been thinking recently about what Ofsted might look for in schools' EYFS provision when considering children's spiritual, moral, social and cultural development (SMSC). The whole concept of SMSC can feel a little alien to the early years.

I found Kathryn Solly's recent article about the importance of awe and wonder in Nursery World [subscription required] gave a convincing account of the importance of "magical moments" in children's learning, which can be seen as another way of thinking about "spiritual development".

Overall, just as 4Children have helpfully shown that "Fundamental British Values" are already integral to the EYFS, I would argue similarly that SMSC runs through the EYFS like Brighton through a stick of rock candy. 

The following matrix represents one way of planning that out:

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Ofsted inspection: thoughts about EYFS lesson and session observations

Ofsted's new Common Inspection Framework marks highly significant changes to their approach to the early years. This brief post isn't the place to run down all of them in detail, but here is a quick list of those which strike me as particularly significant:

  • There is now a consistent approach to the inspection of early years provision, whether in school or in a PVI setting - though of course there is a very different inspection workforce. Ofsted has taken its whole school inspectorate "in house", whilst early years settings will continue to be inspected by private companies under contract to Ofsted. But all inspectors are now looking for the same things.
  • There is a very strong and consistent emphasis, across sectors, on "teaching" - which is going to feel new and uncomfortable to many, especially practitioners working with babies. We need to keep thinking about how we articulate "teaching" in the early years so that it supports appropriate experiences for the children and babies we work with. Ofsted's own discussion of play and teaching is a good starting point for that work.

Monday, 28 December 2015

What's happening to children's freedom to move - and to fail?

I don't know if it was the same for you, but I learnt to balance and to ride scooters and bikes through a lot of falling of. Some in sight of my parents, but mostly outdoors on my own. I can also remember my first trip to ice-skating - at the old Richmond ice-rink, now sadly gone. My main early memories are of falling down a lot and getting pretty wet and cold. And lots of blisters.

It makes me wonder what's going on, when I see children on little trikes with poles attached to the back? Or being pulled along on scooters. Perhaps the poles and straps are mostly about safety anxieties - ensuring that children stay close at hand. Or maybe we're all in too much of a hurry to let young children potter about, head the wrong way, and generally hold things up?

Monday, 16 November 2015

Early Years Pupil Premium: keynote address

This is the PowerPoint that goes with my keynote address for Kent's Early Years Equality and Inclusion Conference in November 2015 - or you can download it here.

You are also welcome to use this annotated guidance on the cycle of planning and reviewing for the EYPP which is based on my work and was produced by Optimus earlier in the year.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Looking for some ideas to share with families about gardening together?

This PDF which came my way is useful to share with families.  Simple ideas include: making a bottle bird feeder, growing strawberries on your window ledge, growing mint and some tips on watering plants.

Without killing them off.


"Let me be" - a Montessorian replies

Erin Blessitt writes in response to my recent feature about children's social and emotional development, Let me be:

I found your article entitled ‘Let me be’ particularly resonant and exciting. I am a Montessori teacher in a pre-school in Bristol and the fundamental basis of my work with young children is to respect and follow the unique child. I noted many parallels between suggestions in your article and Maria Montessori’s method of teaching young children. We employ many of your ideas to great effect and I would like to share some of those with you if I may.
With regards to settings often wishing for an upbeat atmosphere, which can sometimes interrupt concentration, we aim to provide a calm and purposeful environment where the children are able to follow their own interests. We try to ensure that if a child is concentrating they are not disturbed, as these moments of concentration are often when deep learning occurs.
This leads me to your point that all children have different patterns of learning. We support this by offering space where children can choose their own activities but also offering space and time for group work and socialisation. We recognise that, just like adults, children have good days and not so good days. This means that what works for one child on one day might not work for them the next day.
The fundamental basis of Montessori is respecting the child and acting as a guide, allowing them to follow their interests and encourage a love of learning. As with all methods of teaching, our first priority is that the children in our care are secure and happy.
I think that as Early Years Practitioners it is important to share good practice and I think the Montessori method has a wealth of practical and tested ideas to offer. People often have preconceptions and misunderstandings about the Montessori method and I wanted to write to show that we are often singing from the same song sheet but not realising it!
Find out more: Montessori on Pinterest