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Staff at the Institute of Education are often called upon to provide expert comment. They actively campaign for change so that passionate educational practitioners have the best environment to work in and that children continue to develop successfully.

Professor Helen Bilton was invited to London on Thursday 8 November 2018 to give her expert opinion on how to develop the early years education profession at the Westminster Education Forum ‘Next steps for early years education: developing the EYFS profile, assessment and priorities for strengthening the transition to primary education’

Read below what was discussed in Helen’s own words.

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Last Thursday I was given the opportunity, alongside seven other panel members to address the next steps for early years education at the Westminster Forum.

Five minutes each isn’t a long time to speak but we covered a lot of ground and interestingly though we didn’t say the same thing, we did in a way.

We each took the subject from different angles but came to the same conclusions which are detailed below:

  • Listen to the experts, not the vested parties;
  • Value children by ensuring the national curriculum fits the early years framework;
  • We need to ensure we have the calibre and number of staff needed to continue with early years education properly;
  • The previous baseline assessment wasn’t workable or appropriate because it ‘didn’t tell teachers anything they didn’t know’.
  • Policy makers need to address poverty in this country and need to ensure families are paid a good wage and live in decent affordable homes;
  • We have a system that heavily values assessment rather than education itself, which needs to change;
  • There are great schools out there achieving great things with children while not having to forgo their principles.

Baroness Perry who chaired the forum was a force to be reckoned with, once Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools in England, she questioned how we have a system that trains teachers in one age phase to then be able to teach any age of child. We should value and keep those people who train in early years.

Although the DfE spokesperson couldn’t stay for the discussions after they presented, they mentioned changes that could cut the workload. I do feel if they had stayed however, they would have seen that not one person, audience or speaker, mentioned the high workload, rather they spoke passionately, demonstrating a deep care for children, wanting to preserve a good education for all.

On the other hand, the Ofsted spokesperson did mention self -regulation and that staff in settings need to articulate to inspectors their understanding of the children in their care.

Going forward, I think we all need to continue to speak to anyone and everyone about education using language that talks about children in terms of growth, development and maturity.

As the campaigning group declares, children are more than a score (www.morethanascore.org.uk).   Moreover, we need to be discussing how we make schools ready for children and as a nation we need to consider what the priorities are for children.

Finally, we need to be pushing for quality professional education so all staff are knowledgeable about child development.

All in all, I came away impressed by the level of debate and the measured discussions. The early years sector has room to grow in strength. I feel emboldened to campaign for change.

Check out the forum here https://bit.ly/2zSjL4E

 

 

 

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