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Rebecca

Bold beginnings: Ofsted report on Reception classes

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Ofsted have today released their 'Bold beginnings: The Reception curriculum in a sample of good and outstanding primary schools' report. In the report, findings from  research led by Gill Jones HMI, recommendations for practice and considerations for DfE are raised. Click on the link (above)  to read the full document or here are the main headlines:

Executive summary

  • A good early education is the foundation for later success. For too many children, however, their Reception Year is a missed opportunity that can leave them exposed to all the painful and unnecessary consequences of falling behind their peers.
  • During the summer term 2017, Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) visited successful primary schools in which children, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, achieved well. This report examines the provision in their Reception Year and the extent to which it was preparing four- and five-year-olds for their years of schooling and life ahead.
  • Reading was at the heart of the curriculum in the most successful classes. Listening to stories, poems and rhymes fed children’s imagination, enhanced their vocabulary and developed their comprehension. Systematic synthetic phonics played a critical role in teaching children the alphabetic code and, since this knowledge is also essential for spelling, good phonics teaching supported children’s early writing.
  • The teaching of early mathematics was not given the same priority. However, it was clear what children could achieve. The schools that ensured good progression frequently used practical equipment to support children’s grasp of numbers and, importantly,to develop their understanding of linking concrete experience with visual and symbolic representations. More formal, written recording was introduced, but only when understanding at each stage was secure and automatic.
  • The schools visited understood that teaching had different purposes. Play, for example, was used primarily for developing children’s personal, social and emotional skills. They learned to investigate the world around them, both physically and imaginatively. However, around two thirds of the staff inspectors spoke to confused what they were teaching (the curriculum) with how they thought they were supposed to teach it. This seemed to stem from misinterpreting what the characteristics of effective learning in the early years foundation stage (EYFS) –‘playing and exploring, active learning, and creating and thinking critically’ – required in terms of the curriculum they provided.
  • The EYFS profile (EYFSP) is a mechanism for statutory summative assessment at the end of the foundation stage. However, in nearly every school visited, the staff felt that the EYFSP was burdensome. Many teachers devised tasks simply to tick off elements of the early learning goals so that they could provide evidence of children’s achievement. By default, these tasks – and ticking them off – became the Reception curriculum, with a significant loss of focus on learning, step by step.
  • Reception and Year 1 teachers agreed that the vital, smooth transition from the foundation stage to Year 1 was difficult because the early learning goals were not aligned with the now-increased expectations of the national curriculum. Progression and continuity in mathematics were seen as particularly problematic.
  • The strongest performing schools, however, had found ways to improve their assessment processes and support transition. Checks of children’s phonics knowledge, standardised tests (for reading, for example) and scrutinies of children’s work provided the essential information that Year 1 teachers needed. Such information was quick to collect and more usefulfor them.
  • These successful schools made sure that they gave reading, writing and mathematics in their Receptionclasses sufficient direct teaching time every day, with frequent opportunities for children to practise and consolidate their growing knowledge. The headteachers made sure that their curriculum was fit for purpose, so that children were equipped to meet the challenges of Year 1 and beyond.

Please share your thoughts and opinions below

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  • Some of the more contentious comments about Good or Outstanding Reception practice:

 

  • They used pencils and exercise books, while children sat at tables, to support good, controlled letter formation.
  •  Reception children join the whole-school assembly by the start of the third week of term
  • Leaders had decided to stop allowing children free, independent access to snacks throughout the day. The teachers believed this former approach had hindered children’s language, communication and social skills, because they were not required to ask questions or engage in conversation during these times.
  • Headteachers in particular said that Reception teachers now needed higher expectations of their children and teaching approaches that were different from those in other early years settings. This was because: the new national curriculum in 2014 had increased expectations, particularly in English and mathematics ■■ the statutory ratio of staff to children in most Reception classes – typically, one teacher and one teaching assistant to 30 children – is higher than those for younger age-groups within the EYFS ■■ increasing numbers of disadvantaged two-year-olds now attend provision, including in schools, so that many more of them are ‘primed to succeed’ by the time they enter Reception.
  • Some headteachers did not believe in the notion of ‘free play’. They viewed playing without boundaries as too rosy and unrealistic a view of childhood. They believed that adults, including most parents, have always imposed limits on children’s play, setting the boundaries about when to be home and where children could go with friends.
  • While leaders believed that play could be a valid part of Reception children’s learning, some did not endorse providing free-flow provision. In these schools, children had access to the outdoors at set times of the day. Teachers here did not believe that the outdoors should simply replicate the indoor classroom. The outdoors was used when it was the best space; for example to help children develop physical skills. Teachers focused on getting children active, raising their heart beat and teaching them to balance, ride bikes and climb. 

No mention of provision for children with SEN.

 

Edited by millhill

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I'm really surprised that there is such a low response on here to this report - is that because it's about reception and therefore seen as not really to do with EYFS?

This report will have huge repercussions for what is perceived as good EYFS practice in many ways, which will eventually start to trickle downwards into our more protected parts of the phase.

I do agree that there is not enough focus on developing early mathematical skills - if children are born with the abilty to quantify why are we not doing more to develop their conceptual understanding more in EYFS? Is this due to a lack of proper training? Expectations of professionals working with children? This finding I agree with and I think should be addressed right through the phase.

However, I could weep after reading the case study of the teacher who is so dim, they think that they have to have 15 photographs of a child putting their coat on to prove it for moderation. This level of institutional stupidity is something that makes me wonder deeply about Ofsted's motives for including it.

Lets hear some more voices???

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Do you think it's been published at a time when teachers are too busy to take it all in?  Reception isn't my thing but I've had a bit of a read and it does seem like a move to remove five year olds from the EYFS by degrees.  

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I did see report come in and will read it by end of week. 

I do agree that whatever is in it will have impact on EY. 

 

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On 30 November 2017 at 19:16, millhill said:
  • Some of the more contentious comments about Good or Outstanding Reception practice:

 

  • They used pencils and exercise books, while children sat at tables, to support good, controlled letter formation.
  •  Reception children join the whole-school assembly by the start of the third week of term
  • Leaders had decided to stop allowing children free, independent access to snacks throughout the day. The teachers believed this former approach had hindered children’s language, communication and social skills, because they were not required to ask questions or engage in conversation during these times.
  • Headteachers in particular said that Reception teachers now needed higher expectations of their children and teaching approaches that were different from those in other early years settings. This was because: the new national curriculum in 2014 had increased expectations, particularly in English and mathematics ■■ the statutory ratio of staff to children in most Reception classes – typically, one teacher and one teaching assistant to 30 children – is higher than those for younger age-groups within the EYFS ■■ increasing numbers of disadvantaged two-year-olds now attend provision, including in schools, so that many more of them are ‘primed to succeed’ by the time they enter Reception.
  • Some headteachers did not believe in the notion of ‘free play’. They viewed playing without boundaries as too rosy and unrealistic a view of childhood. They believed that adults, including most parents, have always imposed limits on children’s play, setting the boundaries about when to be home and where children could go with friends.
  • While leaders believed that play could be a valid part of Reception children’s learning, some did not endorse providing free-flow provision. In these schools, children had access to the outdoors at set times of the day. Teachers here did not believe that the outdoors should simply replicate the indoor classroom. The outdoors was used when it was the best space; for example to help children develop physical skills. Teachers focused on getting children active, raising their heart beat and teaching them to balance, ride bikes and climb. 

No mention of provision for children with SEN.

 

Looks like it's going to be 'All Change' ......again!   Free-flow,  free play,  cafe style snack........all 'so last year'! 

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On 12/2/2017 at 09:31, catma said:

I'm really surprised that there is such a low response on here to this report - is that because it's about reception and therefore seen as not really to do with EYFS?

This report will have huge repercussions for what is perceived as good EYFS practice in many ways, which will eventually start to trickle downwards into our more protected parts of the phase.

I do agree that there is not enough focus on developing early mathematical skills - if children are born with the abilty to quantify why are we not doing more to develop their conceptual understanding more in EYFS? Is this due to a lack of proper training? Expectations of professionals working with children? This finding I agree with and I think should be addressed right through the phase.

However, I could weep after reading the case study of the teacher who is so dim, they think that they have to have 15 photographs of a child putting their coat on to prove it for moderation. This level of institutional stupidity is something that makes me wonder deeply about Ofsted's motives for including it.

Lets hear some more voices???

I found it a very daunting read. The death knell for Early Years Units has just sounded. After years of developing highly effective child initiated learning in Reception I feel that the clock has just turned back to 1996, when the National Strategies were released and the Reception year was a part of that.

I also realise that raising standards through self initiated play activities requires a very high level of commitment, knowledge and preparation from teachers, and unfortunately there are many teachers who don't provide that, through either choice or ability. I fear that a lack of nationwide joined up thinking about effective early years practice has led to the Reception year just 'not being done properly' and this has now given the impression that Development Matters , (the best Government document to hit Reception and Nursery classes in the history of British education), is not fit for purpose. Just think of all those EYFS teachers who have sat through endless KS2 or KS1 staff training, instead of EYFS centric coaching...

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Yes, interesting point - I wonder if any combined units were visitied? I did notice that many of the schools were academy or VA schools whichmight skew the demographics of the intake too?

Cx

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On ‎02‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 09:31, catma said:

I'm really surprised that there is such a low response on here to this report - is that because it's about reception and therefore seen as not really to do with EYFS?

This report will have huge repercussions for what is perceived as good EYFS practice in many ways, which will eventually start to trickle downwards into our more protected parts of the phase.

I do agree that there is not enough focus on developing early mathematical skills - if children are born with the abilty to quantify why are we not doing more to develop their conceptual understanding more in EYFS? Is this due to a lack of proper training? Expectations of professionals working with children? This finding I agree with and I think should be addressed right through the phase.

However, I could weep after reading the case study of the teacher who is so dim, they think that they have to have 15 photographs of a child putting their coat on to prove it for moderation. This level of institutional stupidity is something that makes me wonder deeply about Ofsted's motives for including it.

Lets hear some more voices???

Still working my way through it catma - but completely agree that this will alter our practice in early years

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On 12/2/2017 at 09:31, catma said:

I'm really surprised that there is such a low response on here to this report - is that because it's about reception and therefore seen as not really to do with EYFS?

This report will have huge repercussions for what is perceived as good EYFS practice in many ways, which will eventually start to trickle downwards into our more protected parts of the phase.

I do agree that there is not enough focus on developing early mathematical skills - if children are born with the abilty to quantify why are we not doing more to develop their conceptual understanding more in EYFS? Is this due to a lack of proper training? Expectations of professionals working with children? This finding I agree with and I think should be addressed right through the phase.

However, I could weep after reading the case study of the teacher who is so dim, they think that they have to have 15 photographs of a child putting their coat on to prove it for moderation. This level of institutional stupidity is something that makes me wonder deeply about Ofsted's motives for including it.

Lets hear some more voices???

June O'Sullivan has posted on her blog today Not So Sure that they are Bold Beginnings

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Thank you Rebecca that was a very good read

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43 minutes ago, Rebecca said:

Amanda Spielman referenced the report in her speech today. This is how it has been reported in Nursery World

There speaks a woman who has never fished for numbered ducks in a paddling pool or dug up rocks with letters/numbers loving painted on in the sandpit:(

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