The Tes reports that Ofsted’s recent report into the Reception year is misguided and is a sign of things moving backwards at the inspection body, says this director of EYFS
Autumn term is busy in schools. Very busy. In early years, we are continually observing, planning for and assessing our youngest children: getting to know them well, their interests and how they learn.
Then, before you know it, there is the build-up to Christmas with a nativity, experiences and all that glistens. Despite best attempts, there will be the mad rush to finish Christmas cards, salt-dough and the always-made, never-used calendar. Staff will find glitter in their socks and invariably be dosed up on Night Nurse. Doing what we do.
Then along came Ofsted with a shiny new document about early years.
I had been impressed by the recent experience of inspection I’d had. A real interest in early years, keen to observe the roleplay and purposeful learning the children were doing. Robust in their scrutiny of our data, interested in what I had to say and – in my experience – genuine.
I had also attended one of the Ofsted EY myth-busting sessions headed up by Gill Jones HMI. Again, I was pleased to see the moves being made to engage the sector and dispel some of the silly myths that were still being raised in some corners – and that clear messages were being sent to both practitioners and school leaders.
I read the recommendations of Bold Beginnings first – as you tend to do with reports – and my immediate reaction was of concern. This didn’t seem reflective of the experience of Ofsted I had just begun to enjoy. It seemed to have gone back to the unwanted image of being prescriptive regarding its inspection process. Those dreadful phrases of “Ofsted wants…” and “Ofsted is looking for…” sprung to mind.
After reading the initial outpouring of condemnation from within the sector on social media, I first thought long and hard about what was missing. This seems to be key to the concerns. The most important parts of a five-year-old’s school life should revolve around the Prime Areas of Communication and Language, personal, social and emotional development and physical development. That much I am sure. And a lot of the grief caused by Bold Beginnings is that these are not the priority, core or centre of what it recommends. Without these embedded, there would be no ability to achieve in any of the other four “specific areas”, including literacy and maths.
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin#
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